Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Deals


Christmas Deals


Ho, Ho, Ho!  Merry Christmas!  I have a special treat for you.


It has been hard to keep this a secret! A group of sellers is hosting a week full of Jolly Good Deals. Below is a list of what you can expect this week.  Each day brings a new surprise.  Below is a sneak peek of what you can find each day.





TUESDAY

Tuesday, you can grab my January Journal for $1.00.  My monthly journals are some of my best sellers.  They work well to use for morning work, literacy stations, and early finishers.  It is the perfect time to grab while it is on sale and have it ready to go for your students when you return from Winter Break in January.  Enter the code #jollygooddollardeals.  Click the picture to take you directly to my TpT store.




WEDNESDAY

I have 2 special treats just for you!  One is a freebie that I am advertising as #jollygoodfreebie in the title.


The second is only being announced to my blog followers as a special Merry Christmas gift.  It is my Fix the Sentence Task Cards.  This set has 3 different levels for you to choose from.  Each level can be printed with or without QR codes, in color or black line.  It makes differentiating a breeze.  Click the picture and it will take you to the product page for your download.   Thank you so much for your support!

PS It will only be available for free on Wednesday, December 14th.  Thursday, the price will return to $3.25.






Thursday

I am so excited to share this special offer with you. I have discounted my best selling bundle.

The packet includes digraphs sh, ch, and th.  Each set includes 5 different activities.  It is perfect to give students the opportunity to practice reading and writing the different digraphs.  One of my students favorite is read and write the room.  This allows them to get up and move around all while applying their learning.  It is a win, win!

You can catch it at this price for 1 day.  Click the picture below.



Friday
Happy Fri-Yay!!!  I can't tell you how excited I am that today is Friday.  I have stayed up WAY past my bedtime and will more than likely pay for it tomorrow.  Today is the last day before our 2-week break.  I am so excited to have this time to re-energize.  We only have a 1/2 day and the day will fly.

It is also the last day of our #jollygooddeals.  This week has been tons of fun bringing you a new surprise each day.  Tomorrow is 1/2 off deals.  I have placed 2 of my products 1/2 off.  Both are products I will use the 4th six weeks of school and hope that you can as well!



The first is my winter wonderland packet.  This includes lots of fun activities like:
Compound Word Activities
- Match the Mittens
- 2 types of compound word worksheets
R-Controlled Games and Worksheets
- Catch the Snowflakes
- Which Word is Spelled Correctly (using QR Codes)
- Choose correct spelling
R-Controlled Worksheets
ABC Order
- Winter Mix Up Game
- Fix It Cut and Paste
- Winter ABC Order
- ABC Alphabet Strips

R-Controlled Bundle
I am not sure about you, but it seems that r-controlled words throw my students' for a loop!  This packet helps students apply their new learning.
Includes:
- Write the room (color and black/white printable choices)
- Worksheets for Write the Room Activity
- Word Family Puzzles
- Missing Pieces Game
- Sentence Practice
- Unscramble the Sentence
- I Have/ Who Has Game
- Word Sorts
I hope you have enjoyed all the surprises.  Thanks for joining me!

Blessings,



Friday, November 25, 2016

Santa's Little helper

Santa's Little Helper


Hi, guys!  How are you? Has Christmas-itis hit your students yet?  Are they antsy for a break and in the process of trying to send you over the edge?  The month of December can be challenging for teachers and students alike.  As a kid, they can't wait until they are watching cartoons, staying up late and impatiently waiting for Santa's arrival.  Teachers, well..our  my wish list is to catch up on sleep, eat a meal that I don't have to scarf down and watch Netflix.

The month of December is CRAZY!  (Can I get an AMEN???) There is so much to learn and such little time to squeeze it all in, and the redirecting may seem never ending.

Are any of these thoughts running through your head?
  1. Attention spans mysteriously have been cut in half.
  2. Students have suddenly forgotten how to walk in the hallway correctly.
  3. Tattling is Out...of..Control!
  4. You find yourself reviewing necessary procedures and routines like you did at the beginning of the school year. 
  5. Keeping hands to self suddenly becomes a never ending chore. 
  6. Homework.....What homework?  I didn't know we had homework?  Why didn't you tell me?
  7. You can't decide if the constant rambling you hear is all in your head or if your once quiet class has permanently departed (for a trip to the North Pole leaving you behind with a classroom full of replacements) 
Did you find yourself shaking your head in agreement?  Yep, I totally get it and am right there with ya, girl!  It is a HARD time of the year, but you don't have to be counting down the hour, days until the break.  I have an easy activity that will help your students stay on track and save your Teacher-in-December sanity.  

How, might you ask?  

It is a super duper easy activity that I call Santa's Little Helper and requires little prep on your part (Hallelujah).  

I love to begin this activity when we return from Thanksgiving break.  They are hyped up from a few days off and utterly excited to start their countdown to Christmas.

Below is how I use this in my classroom.  I like to keep it simple because this time of year is stressful enough without adding any extra stress to my plate (I need HELP, not extra work). 

  • Print off the letter from your classroom elf.  I have left a space in the message for you to name your elf.  Now, I know you might be thinking, "Just great, exactly what I want to do, go out and buy an elf."  No worries!!!  You do not have to buy an elf.  When I began this fun project 17 years ago, I did not have an elf that my class could see (and honestly I think it works well, maybe even better depending on the year).  
  • I leave the elf coloring page (found in your packet) and a candy cane on their desk for them to color after I read the letter.  Once I read the letter, I tell them just like Santa; they cannot see our classroom elf.  They never know when he is watching. 
  • During the next few weeks, I keep an eye out for students making good choices.  When this happens, I place a certificate and a candy cane on their desk (when they are not in the classroom).  I try to change up the time that the elf leaves his surprise.  It helps to keep them on their toes. 
I hope your students enjoy this activity as much as mine.

You can grab your copy of Santa's Little Helper HERE


A group of teacher-authors has come together wanting to give back to our sweet followers.  Each blogger has a chance for their readers to win $25.00 gift cards.  You can enter for a chance to win a $25.00 TpT gift card below.    I will announce the winner on December 4th.  Don't forget to check out the other fabulous bloggers below for your chance to win other amazing gift cards (by clicking on the little blue frog).  Good luck!





a Rafflecopter giveaway




Blessings,


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Literacy Stations: Part 2



Hi, guys!  I hope everyone had a fabulous week and were able to rest this weekend.  I just wrapped up the first six weeks.  Time has gone by fast.  Next week, I will release the reins for students to complete stations independently.  I look forward to spending time listening to my students read in a small group.

I want to share with you how I use each station.  My goal is you will find at least one tip to use in your classroom.


Station 1: Read to Self

Read to self is the first station I introduce to students.  We practice, practice, practice.  During read to self, they may not talk, get up or play.  If they break any of the expectations, we try again.  It takes time, but it is worth it in the end.


How do students store their reading books?
Each student has their own book box.

How many books do they keep in their box?
Students keep five books in their box.

How often do students trade out their books?
They trade out books once a week.

How do students choose their books?
Students choose their books from our book bins.



Station 2: Work with Words

Working with words gives students an opportunity to practice their new learning .  I introduce the phonics skill of the week on Monday.


How do you decide what skill to practice? 
I follow our scope and sequence for the district. The first few weeks, we worked on CVC words, word families and rhyming.

How often does this center change?
The words for the week change on Monday.  At this time, they are given four different options to practice their words.  We will gradually increase to more options.  



Station 3: Listen to Reading

This station is initially practiced, as a whole group. Students have a hard time figuring out where to press start and how to turn on the cd player. My, how technology has advanced.


What do you use in this station?
I have three CD players for students to use with headphones.  

What do students do after they listen to the story?
I have them complete a reflection page.  They write the title, draw a picture of their favorite part and write one sentence.  Later in the year, they will write the beginning, middle, and end of the story.



Station 4: Work on Writing

The options are endless for this station.  Sometimes it is something as simple as labeling a picture. There are also students who are able to write stories.


What do you place in your writing station?
I have used many things.  There have been years where it was as simple as a journal with blank handwriting pages. I have also used monthly journals.

The past two years I have given my students more options.  This has helped them to stay engaged during their time at this station. Some of the types of writings include making a list, writing a letter, and stories.



Station 5:  Read and Write the Room



I love this station!  It is easy to prepare and gets the kids up and moving.  The cards are in different places around the classroom.


How often do you change the cards? 
Normally, I only change task cards out once a week.  The exception would be if we were able to visit more stations than normal in a given week.  I like to have them changed out on Friday before I leave for the weekend.

Do you grade the response sheets?
I do not place a grade on their answer key, but I do like looking at their responses.  It is eye-opening to see what sounds they hear.



6: Rock Your Fluency

This is a fun, engaging station.  You know a station is a keeper when they get excited that it is their turn and bummed when it is time to clean up.


What do you place in this station?
In this station, I have a timer, leveled fluency phrases, and voice cards.  If you do not have fluency phrases you could use leveled passages or even a book on their reading level.

How is the game played?
Students' play the game in pairs.  They take turns reading the phrases. Their goal is to see if they can beat how many phrases they read the time before.  They love the competition.



7: Smartboard

Initially, I was apprehensive to allow students to use the smartboard during literacy stations. My concern was that other students would be distracted.  Thankfully, they have done very well.  It has been a great way to practice new skills.


Where do you find your activities?
Smart Exchange has great activities for all subject areas.  They have a great selection of free downloads for all subject areas.


8.  Ipads

Thankfully we have four Ipads to use in our classroom.  It makes it easy to use in a station.


Do the students get to choose what app they play?
No, they do not.

What apps do students play?
At this time they are using the math app Matific.  Another app that I use often is Istation.  They both allow students to work on their level.


9.  Buddy Reading

Buddy reading use to be the last station I taught.  I felt like it was hard for students to read and not play with their buddy.

I would love to share a little secret with you.  I use stuffed animals to teach students how to read with a buddy.  This has been the perfect way to introduce how to read with a buddy to my students.

10. Computers

We only have one student computer in our classroom.  Most of the time I save this station for my ESL/ELL students who need time using the Imagine Learning software. 


Thanks for stopping by. 

Blessings,

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Literacy Station Rotation Chart



Happy Sunday!  Sorry, this post has taken so long to write. We have been sick off and on in our house.  It started with me, I passed it to all the kids and back around again.  We just seem to love sharing!  haha

When I decided to change up my literacy stations, I had to figure out the simplest way for my students' to know what station they were at and which they would move to next.  I wanted an easy visual for myself and my first graders.

Below is a picture of my rotation chart.


I divide my students into groups of 2-3, depending on how many students I have in class.  I like to keep my station groups as small as I can.

Each round lasts 15-20 minutes.  Students' will rotate to the next station once I have finished a reading group.

How are groups moved? 

I move the station groups directly down the chart.



Do you have students return to their station after they finish reading at the teacher table? 

No, I do not.  Once I finish with a group I ring a bell.  This is our cue to clean up our stations.  We then move to the carpet as a group.  I like to call my next reading group to my table before I move students' to their next station.  We meet back at the carpet after each station.
When a student misses a station, they will have a chance to visit it later in the week.
Thanks for checking out how I use my rotation chart.  In my next post, I will explain how I set up each station.
Blessings,

Monday, September 5, 2016

Literacy Stations Part 1




Part 1:  How to up Literacy Stations in you classroom


Hey, guys!  I am so excited to share with all of you this post.  It is part 1 of my blog post series, "How I Implement Literacy Stations in my Daily Routine".  Our literacy block has become my favorite part of our day.  

Can I tell you a secret?  This time of day has not always been a favorite.  In fact, there was a time it was stressful.  I was overwhelmed with how I thought it should look and what all of the students would be doing while I was working with a small group.   

The past few years I used strategies that I learned from Daily 5. It was my saving grace at the time.  I love how it gives you a guide on how it should look and what to do so that it runs smoothly.  I still use some of these strategies when setting up expectations for this block of time.  If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it.  

One year ago, I decided that I wanted to change up my literacy block.  I spent part of my summer putting my thoughts down on paper so I could begin the new transition at the beginning of the school year.  I knew I wanted more stations to give my students more options.  I also wanted to make it as easy as possible.  

I knew I needed enough stations so my students would be spread out.  I wanted to have no more than three students in a station at a time.  My hope was that it would increase engagement and limit the amount of time my students were off task. 

Below is a list of stations that I have implemented. 

Teacher Table- Please know that I do not number this station. Students are pulled back to my table from many different groups. 

1.   Read to Self
2.   Work with Words
3.   Writing Station
4.   Computer
5.   Read and Write the Room
6.   Listening Center
7.   Ipad
8.   Read and Write the Room
9.   Smartboard  
10. Buddy Reading

Now, I know you might be thinking there is NO WAY I have time for this!  How in the world can I implement that many stations without it sending me over the edge?  I don't want to change up that many stations. I would be working myself to death if I implemented this crazy idea.  This woman has fallen off her rocker!  That is ok.  Stick with me over the next two posts and I will show you what I have learned to make it easier. I am all for making my life easier and sharing with others what I have learned along the way.   

Below is how I display/set up my stations.  It does not explain how I introduce each station.  I will dive into that topic in Part 2 of this series. 

How do you display your Literacy Stations?

I purchased a vinyl pocket chart and hung it up at the front of our classroom.  I know it isn't very high tech, but it has worked very well.  In the past, I used my smartboard to showcase the rounds but I wanted to be able to use it for a station. 

In the pocket chart, I stored picture cards for each station.  Next to each picture is a number (1-10).  I also have the numbers taped around the classroom.  I have discovered displaying the numbers around the classroom allows students to see where they can find each station. 


How do you decide on the different groups?

I divide students into small mixed ability groups (2-4) depending on how many students I have in class.  I know the possibility of 4 sounds like a large number for a station but keep in mind one of those students might be working with you at your teacher table.  I try and pair a middle/high student with a student that might need guidance.  Students then have a buddy to ask questions as they arise.  


How do you move stations?

The order of the stations stays the same.  I move the groups down the chart in number order.  I have found using this strategy is the easiest way for me to keep track where they will move next. 

How many rounds do you accomplish in a day?

 In a perfect world, I would love to meet with all of my students daily.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  I have come to realize this is not possible unless something else gives.  I try to meet with 2-3 groups daily.   There are days where I can only meet with one of my reading groups.  When this happens, I meet with my lowest group.  

How often do you change what keep in your stations?

My next post will dive into this question in greater detail.  I did want to give you a few tidbits before then.  The write the room station changes weekly to match our new phonics skill.  The topics for work on writing is changed out every month to six weeks.  

Stay tuned for my next post to see how I introduce each station. 

BONUS: 

Would you like to save a little time?  Snatch your own copy of my literacy station cards by clicking HERE

Blessings, 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

How I implemented flexible seating





Hi, guys.  I hope you are having an amazing long weekend and a wonderful start to your school year.   Have you jumped on the flexible seating bandwagon?  This is my first year to use flexible seating.  I am excited, yet nervous about the change.  

Each year I have assigned seats for my students.  I would move students to a different table as needed.  I wanted to have control where they sat.  Can anyone else relate?  Last year I began to allow them to work around the room.  I noticed when they were given this option their focus was better and they were not as easily distracted.  It was a win-win.

With that in mind, I began thinking about the move to a flexible seating classroom, researching the benefits and what I would need to make it happen.  First, I spoke with my administration about the change.  They were supportive and excited about the possibility. One of the first steps for me was spending time during the summer deciding how I wanted this to look.  I also needed to decide what types of seating options I wanted. 

Here are a few tips that I have learned the past two weeks at school. 

How does it look?


I have 4 tables in my classroom instead of desks.  Each table has a different option of seating.  Example: typical chairs, stability balls, crate seats, and pillows.  

I also created an L-shaped bench for extra seating and storage for my classroom books. This area has been perfect for our read aloud. 

Students' also have the option of working on the floor.   Last year, a few of my students loved using laundry baskets.  This is another option I have offered.  

Beginning Process


I need to be very honest.  It has been a learning curve.  I have made adjustments along the way.  The first day of school I  introduced our different seating options.  The first week of school I allowed my class to try out all the different options. We spent the last 10 minutes of  class choosing our "new" spot for the next day.  I no longer have to spend time with this step.  Read further to see how and when they choose their new spots. 

How do you handle supplies?


This was one of the most difficult concepts for me to grasp.  I wanted to make it as easy as possible for all of my students.  It took a few days, but I finally figured out what works best (for us).  Each student has a drawer to hold all of their supplies. I store their crayons, pencils, scissors, and dry erase markers in a zipper pouch.  They are a perfect size and do not take up much room. 



Each morning they come into the classroom, turn in their nightly folder, put away their backpack, take out their WIP (work in progress) folder and zipper pouch.  They get to choose their new spot for the day.  I have loved the flow of them doing it this way and has not taken long for them to get this procedure down. 

Here is a pano shot of our classroom.  It will give you a little better idea of our seating options and how I have my classroom set up. 




Do you let them change spots during the day? 


Yes!  It is something that I want them to recognize if they need to move independently.  I have been very pleased with how well my first graders are handling this task.  We have days where no one will move to a new spot. Then there are days where a student (or 2) might ask to move.  If they feel like a move to a new table would be best, I want them to take the initiative for that move. 

What about students who can’t handle choosing their own spot?


If a child is unable to handle choosing their own spot I will choose for them.  The goal is as the year progresses they will be able to make this choice independently.   So, I will give them the opportunity to try again.  I believe that part of learning is making mistakes and trying to learn and grow from them.


Are you enjoying the transition?


Yes!  I have loved using flexible seating.  The benefits I have seen far outweigh any issues we have encountered along the way. 


I will keep you posted on how it is going (the good, the bad and the ugly).  I know there will be learning curves along the way, but hopefully, we will have lots of celebrations.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments or send me an e-mail. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Blessings,


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Back to School

Happy August Y'all!

I’m not sure about you, but my summer has flown by!  Summer break is on the last leg.  I officially go back to work this week.  Where has time gone?  Does the end of summer ever sneak up on you?  It seems that I blinked and summer ended. 

Last week I spent time in my new classroom (as in unboxing 30 plus boxes, organizing, putting up bulletin boards, you name it).  I took my not so little kiddos with me.  My youngest said, “This looks like a case of Minecraft gone wrong”.  Why yes it does my dear!  haha! Here is a small snippet of what my room looked like before I began the tall task at hand.





Thankfully it did not take long for my classroom to begin looking a little better.  Now, I do not want to run the opposite direction when I walk in the room.



I will post an "after" picture when my classroom decorating is complete. I am excited about the changes I have planned for my new room and can’t wait to share with you how I am moving to a flexible seating classroom.  EEK!! It is going to be a new and exciting adventure.



Back to School Freebie

Well, enough about my classroom.  I am excited to share with you one of my favorite back to school activities.  It is,  "All About MeBags".  They are fun and simple to throw together before the first day of school.  My local grocery store is great about donating the bags I need for this activity.  On each bag, I staple a letter for the parents/guardians explaining what goes in the bag.  Below is an example of what the bag looks like with the note attached.



Students fill the bag with 3-5 items that they would like for their classmates to know about them.  After each child shares, the students are given an opportunity to ask questions.  This activity takes 3-5 days to complete, depending on class size.  I like to share my bag on the first day of school.  They LOVE this activity.   It is a fun way to begin building a close-knit classroom community. 

Here are a few Q/A’s how I use this activity in my classroom. 

Q. Do you set any guidelines for students before sending the bags home?
A. I tell my students their items have to fit in the sack.  This helps not getting stuffed animals that are bigger than the kids or in my case the teacher.

Q. What do you do when a student brings a special toy that they sleep with at night?
A.  This happens every year.  Here are a few ideas on how I hand that situation.  First: I allow students to take their bag home and bring it back the next day.  Second:  Before we begin sharing I ask the class if they have a stuffed animal they sleep with in their bag.  This allows me to gauge how many I might need to finish by the end of the day (time permitting).

Q. Have you ever had a year where a child does not bring anything to share?
A.  No, so far I have not a year where a child did not bring something to share.  

Q. How many questions do you allow the students to ask?
A. I allow my students to ask 3-5 questions. 

Q. What size of bag do you use?
A.  I use the brown grocery bags from the grocery store. You can also use lunch sacks if you would like students to bring smaller items.  

Q. Do you set a time limit on how long you allow a student to share?
A. I do not set a specific time limit.  There have been times that a student has brought a large photo album.  If this happens, I do limit the number of pictures that they share.

Now here is the best part!  You can grab your own copy for free by clicking on the picture below.



I hope you and your students enjoy this activity as much as mine.  If you have any questions please let me know.  Good luck this school year.  It is going to be the “Best Year Ever”!


Blessings,     

Sunday, May 8, 2016

End of Year

Happy Saturday Ya'll!  How many of you have started a countdown for the last day of school? That would definitely be ME!! We have 3 weeks of school left and it will be non stop all the way to the finish line.

Thankfully, there are lots of fun events planned along the way to keep students motivated and engaged.  I will be sharing ideas on how I survive this time of the school year soon. 

I am very excited to share with you that I have been given the opportunity to be a guest blogger on Teaching Autism for her Sunday Seller Spotlight.  In the post I share one of the best changes I made to my Literacy Stations this school year.  There is also an awesome freebie for you to download. I don't want to give away the surprise, but it is PERFECT if you are winding down the school year.  You can check out the post and Nikki's blog HERE.

Thanks for stopping by!

Blessings,

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Brain Breaks

  Happy Saturday!  I wanted to share something with you guys that has become dear to my heart.  This year I began using brain breaks on a regular basis….like daily (usually more than twice a day).  In the beginning, I would just do a quick search on viewpure (which is like youtube only all the commercials are filtered out so it is safe for the classroom).  I did find a few good videos but was still searching for something different.


Now comes the best website I have found to date!  It not only get my kiddo’s up and moving but also helps them to refocus.  Are you ready for it???!!!! It is http://gonoodle.com and it is FREE!! Yep! That’s right… does not cost anything to join and I know all of us teacher like things that are Free for our classrooms (well this teacher does anyways). Smile

  This might not be “new” to you and you might already be in the “know” but just have to share it with ya’ll just in case you have been missing out!  They have tons of “channels” to choose from.  We have a few favorites like: KooKoo Kangaroo, Kids Zumba, Awesome Sauce and to help relax ALL of us (teacher included) Flow.  They also have channels for indoor recess.  Yep! That is right!! How handy is that??! Not sure about anyone else, but normally it is cold here during winter and we get snow you guys!  Yep, even in Texas…oh the joys of living in the Panhandle! So there are years where we don’t get to venture out much during the winter break.  Then there are other times wind speeds are so high that it is not safe to be outside without extra weights to weigh you down so you don’t blow away, goggles for eye protection or even the need to cover your mouth so you don’t end up enjoying a mouth full of dirt...which is never pleasant! Here is a pic of one of the amazing videos.  I know it isn’t the best shot but can’t post any of my kiddos and still wanted you to see it being used.  I wish you could see how they get into the videos…even my shy babies!  



The class can also pick out a character that grows and changes with each break. My class loves seeing how it changes each time we do a new break.  After so many “level” ups they get to choose a new character.  I use my class dojo random chooser for who gets to pick the new character and they LOVE this!!  Here is what our little character looks like at this time. Isn’t he cute!!

Here is a link if you would like to try it out.  I am currently using their free version.  https://app.gonoodle.com/s/kcraig-1

Is there another website that is your favorite?  I would love to hear about it! 

Thanks for stopping by!