Friday, January 31, 2014

Five for Friday...Snowmageddon style!

Oh my goodness!!! This has been the craziest week I think I've ever experienced! I teach in Atlanta, and you may have heard Atlanta has had some snow problems this week (such an understatement!!).  
I'm linking up with Doodle Bug to share my craziness from the week  =)

1. The snow started falling around 11:00am, and when we dismissed at 1:45pm, the roads were already JAMMED! No one could get through! No buses. No day care vans. No parents.
At 4:00pm, we had about 800 students.
At 7:00pm, we had about 400 students.
At 9:00pm, we had about 200 students.
Our last student was picked up at 10:30am Wednesday morning.
I knew it was not a good sign when we started pulling out mats for the kids to sleep on.

Once we were down to only a handful of students, and they were settled for the night, I was able to leave. Except that I didn't have anywhere to go! The roads were icy and the traffic was gridlocked (may new least favorite word!). There was no way I would make it home. Thankfully, a loving teacher who only lived a mile away from school opened her home to teachers who couldn't get home. Can we say slumber party!?!

Snow orphans ready for a slumber party!
The next day, Wednesday, several teachers were able to make it home. However, the Chattahoochee River still stood between me and my house, and we've all seen the signs:
The roads were icy and the abandoned cars were causing traffic problems on the interstates, so I decided to stay put in the nice warm house where I'd been staying. I FINALLY made it home Thursday afternoon, just in time to hear that schools were closed Friday. Phew! What a relief! It's gonna take a few days before I'm ready to leave this house again!
2. My hubby was also affected by the Snow Jam (a name that makes this thing sound a whole lot more fun than it actually was!). He spent 8 hours trying to make his 8 mile commute. He eventually had to abandon his car in the Bank of America parking lot and trek in the snow the last 3 miles. He left a thank you note on his car, by the way, which I though was so adorably thoughtful.
We rescued his car when I got home Thursday.
3. Before the snow hit, we did do some actual learning this week. My para-pro was a HIT when we did our labeling lesson. After talking about labels and other text features, my para let us label her, which the kids thought was the most fantastic thing they had ever seen!
Teachers will do anything to help their students learn!
4. We're also learning about measurement. To practice measuring length, the students took off their shoe and traced it. One thing I've learned about teaching is that any lesson where kids can take their shoes off is a winner! Students estimated how long their shoe would be in cubes, and then measured it. To end the lesson, we ordered the shoes from shortest to longest.

5. Monday was also our 100th day of school! I didn't take any pictures unfourtunately, but I do have a couple of links to share.

This first link is to a 100th Day Ticket a co-worker of mine created. The students worked on 100 day activities all day, and as they finished, I marked that activity off of their ticket. I put yarn on this and my students wore it as a necklace. They loved it, and it kept them working hard! This is in Word, so you can change it to fit your class' activities.

The second link is a super fun TPT freebie I found. I used a lot of the ideas from here including a fruitloop necklace (made in groups of 10 of 1 color), "If I had $100" writing prompt, "I can write 100 words," and 100th day snack mat. Hope it's helpful for you, too! 

100th Day of School Freebie {Printables}

Friday, January 17, 2014

Five for Friday (January 17)
1. Phew! It has been a week! Things teaching have been great, but things family have been CRAZY! Last week my mom got the stomach bug and, long story short, ended up in the hospital for 3 days. She's recovering now, but still not 100%. This experience has taught me that nurses are one of the unsung heroes for our civilization! The crap they deal with (sometimes literally) is just overwhelmingly insane! If you know a nurse, please give them a hug for me!
2. We read Snowmen at Night last week. Such a fun book! We practiced retelling, discussed fiction/non-fiction, and looked for rhyming words.
On Friday, we made snowman out of  1 part Elmer's glue and 1 part shaving cream. When it dried, the snowmen were puffy and kind of felt like Styrofoam. This week at writing station, my students wrote what their snowman could do at night and used scraps of paper to decorate their snowmen. Aren't they cute?! I differentiated by providing 2 different writing papers for higher and lower students.

3. This 9 weeks, we teach persuasive writing to our kindergartners. We started this unit by talking about facts and opinions. I used this cute pack from TPT to do fact and opinion sort.
Opinion Writing Unit {Let's Write an Opinion!}
After that, we took an opinion poll. My kids voted on the best food. We did this another day with the best pet. On the 3rd day, they were begging me to do it again!
After voting, I introduced the almighty opinion word...BECAUSE!!!! We talked about how important it is to give a reason for our opinion and practiced verbally giving reasons. Taking time to talk about opinions was a HUGE help instead of just jumping into writing them. Finally my opinionated little munchkins went to writing and did a super job!
4. Is anyone else ALWAYS looking for apps, especially apps that are kinder-friendly?? I tested out a new (to me) app this week and HAVE GOT to share it with you!! Puppet Pals lets kids make their own story by picking characters and settings, and then recording their narration...just like a virtual puppet show. It's super simple to use and I can't wait to use it with my kindergartners! The free version comes with fairy tale puppets and settings, but the pay version has a lot of different genres.
5. I took the day off today and came to my parents house. It worked out well so that I could be here with my mom after her hospital stay, but really I was already coming here to help them move (or at least pack). I got my tape gun in one hand and my cardboard box in the other! Hopefully I'll be more productive than theses guys...

Have a GREAT weekend!!!

A Day Our Way: A Classroom Schedule Linky Par-TAY!

OOOOHHH! It's another super fun linky party! Where the Wild Things Learn is hosting a linky where we can virtually take a peek at one another's classroom schedules. It's so interesting how you fellow teachers organize your day!

I teach kindergarten. Come on in and take a looksee at my schedule:

First things first...

School starts at 7:30!!! BLUGH!!! YUCK!!!!! PA-TOOEY!!!!!!

Okay, now that that's out of the way...

Morning Work-I used to do a worksheet for morning work, but I stopped. Can you guess the reason?
a.) it took a lot of paper
b.) the kids who got to school first always finished it too quickly
c.) the kids who came to school last never got a chance to finish it at all
d.) all of these!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you answered D, you are CORRECT! Plus, at my new school, we only have about 10 minutes before announcements come on, and by the time kids unpack, we're down to 5. Sooooo on Monday, I give everyone Play-doh to play with. After announcements, we use it to make our new sight words for the week. Tuesday-Friday, I get out four math tubs (filled with manipulatives) and rotate them between the tables. The kids seem to like this, and I think it's a more fun way to start the day.

Morning Message/Calendar-I switch between these 2 throughout the week because I'm a little ADD myself, and I get bored when we do the exact same thing everyday.

Science/Social Studies-We rotate between these through the year.

Specials/Snack-PE, computers, library, art, music, food, yum

Whole Group Reading Lesson-I try to keep this short and sweet, but sometimes I just can't shut myself up. I focus on 1 or 2 books for the whole week and use those to practice skills. This week we compared Jan Brett's books The Hat and The Mitten. Next week we're using National Geographic's Penguin book to learn about text features.

Guided Reading/Literacy Stations-I have 4 reading groups and TRY SO HARD to meet with them each day. Again, I have a hard time shutting up, so sometimes I talk too long and end up missing a group. My para-pro does phonics with each group. She's much better at meeting with all 4 than I am. I should give her a cookie for that. Anyway, while we teach, students go to 2 literacy stations a day which are rotated throughout the week. I have 8 stations in all, which are currently:

-listen to reading (and usually respond in their reading journal to a given prompt)
-library (read to self or read to others)
-word work (changes all the time!)
-word family (sort pictures, spell words in pocket chart, sliders)
-writing (changes a lot...usually goes with something we talk the week before)
-computers (we use Successmaker)
-write the room (look for word family words, seasonal words, or words that start with given letters)
-big book station (re-read, look for sight words, illustrate)

I've also used a sight word station, poetry station, and puppet station, but like I said, I'm ADD and need a change every once in a while. In addition, I have a "Finished Early" basket for students who...well...finish early. It's filled with some games, a Where's Waldo book (BIG hit right now!), and extra worksheets that they unexplainably think are so fun to do.

Lunch-Please tell me it's chicken nugget day!!! YUM!!!!

Math-I generally teach a whole group lesson on Monday, break into 3 math groups that rotate Tuesday-Thursday, and do another (hopefully more fun) whole group lesson on Friday. My math groups are:
-1 group working with me
-1 group with my para-pro
-1 group working independently.
My independent group usually has an assignment to do and then can pick from a basket of math games and puzzles to play when they finish.

Recess-Go. Run. Do ALL the talking that you've wanted to do ALL DAY!!!

Writer's Workshop-I'm pretty proud of writer's workshop this year. It may be because my kids are AWESOME writers and it's so much fun to see them write. My format is pretty traditional: mini-lesson, writing time, sharing time.
-Before the mini-lesson: I start with sight word review to help them get settled after recess.
-Mini-lesson: This focuses on different types of skills.
...Sometimes we talk about genre (narrative, informational, persuasive).
...Sometimes we talk about conventions (periods, capital letters, that kind of fun stuff).
...Sometimes we talk about writing traits (well...I want to START talking about writing traits...we talked about fluency last week! That's all we've gotten to so far...).
...Sometimes I just see them doing something random that we need to talk about, so that's our mini-lesson.
-Writing time: Sometimes I pull kids to walk on certain skills. If I don't pull kids, I spend the first part of writing time HIDING! It's true! I've discovered if I walk around, my kids tend to get very clingy and ask me how to do EVERYTHING! However, if I leave them alone to start writing, they do a great job independently. It's the weirdest thing. After a few minutes, I'll start walking around and talking to students about their writing. Students sit at 4 different tables, so I usually try to focus on 1, maybe 2, tables per day and conference with those kiddos.
-Share time: Those days when the bell is seconds away from ringing and my car riders haven't even BEGUN to pack up, we "share with the world." That means kids hold up their paper in the air and everyone quickly looks at everyone else's work. Our normal share time is "share with a buddy." Pretty self-explanatory. If I see someone who has used whatever our mini-lesson skill was about, then we occasionally share with the whole class. I usually save whole class sharing for when they finish a piece of work to hang outside in the hall.

That's our day. Phew! I'm tired just thinking about it!!!  =)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Oops! Missed 5 for Friday! Here's an update on my week and a SUPER, AMAZING sale!!!

I hope that everyone survived the "Polar Vortex" from this week. Down here in Atlanta, we had a couple of days without students because it was 5 degrees and too cold for the kiddos to stand at the bus stop. I know you Northerners out there might think 5 degrees is child's play, but I did not sign up for that kind of COLD when I decided to live in Atlanta! NO SIR! Oh well, the extra time with no students let me create this little guy to help teach question words:

In other news, my hubby and I went to Barnes and Nobel yesterday to spend some gift cards that Santa brought us. I was GREATLY amused at this:

I was also amused at how engrossed my dog got in watching Marley and Me yesterday:

I had to make her stop watching though 1.) because it's sooooooo sad, and 2.) I didn't want her to pick up any of Marley's...uh...less desirable habits  =)

Now it's time for the most exciting announcement from the week!!!!

Are you ready???

I just made my very first bundle in my TPT store!! Yay!!! Wahoo!!!!! Skippy dippy doo!!!!!!!

(Am I the only one who's THAT excited?? Probably so...)

This year, I've been working on word family packs for each short vowel sound. I just finished my last sound and then bundled all of the packs together. The bundle is $5 in my TPT store (saving over 30% if you bought each pack individually).

**For today only, my word family bundle will only be $1!!!**
I hope you enjoy it! Okay...time to do that lovely thing we call planning! Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tried-it Tuesday: Laminators and stickers and differentiation

It's time for Tried it Tuesday with Fourth Grade Flipper!!

I tried my brand new Christmas very own LAMINATOR!!

I used my laminator for the first time yesterday to get some new literacy stations ready, and it worked so well! Plus, I got to laminate from the comfort of my own living room while catching up on Downton Abbey...LOVE!
In other news, my school just loooooooooves for us teachers to differentiate literacy stations. Does anyone else work at a school like this? At first, differentiating stations was so daunting. I have mixed-ability groups, so how will students know what activity to do? Here's my solution:
These stickers match my reading groups (I used to have an orange group, but I had to switch it to blue so I would have a sticker for it!). I just stick these bad boys on folders, cookie sheets, plastic bags, or puzzle boxes to show which reading groups should do each assignment.
What I've noticed about kids is they always want to do the activity that's NOT assigned to them. Sigh. The grass is always greener, right? So now I've started telling students they have to do their colored activity FIRST and then they can do the other activity. This seems to keep them happy enough.
So there you have it. My fabulous, not-so-fancy-but-that's-ok-because-it-works sticker system. I hope this helps you in your own differentiation!
Stay warm tonight!!!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!! Time for Currently!

Happy New Year, y'all! I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful beginning of the new year. I was able to spend it with college friends that I don't see very often these days, so mine was really nice! We spent the evening playing a video game where we threw each other off a very high platform. Fun, right??
I'm linking up with Farley for January's edition of Currently. Enjoy!
Listening: Last UGA game of the season...GOOOOOOOO DAWGS! We're losing right now, but we're making a come back! UPDATE: No come back today...oh well, I'm still proud of those dawgs!
Loving: My hubby and I did a lot of traveling this South Carolina, to Maryland, to central Georgia. It was wonderful to see family and friends, but I am SOOOO glad to be home safely. I don't intend on going ANYWHERE until work on Monday morning  =)   Also, we had to send our dog to a pet-sitter while we flew to Maryland. I know she had a great time playing with the other dogs, but I missed her cute, obnoxious self!
Thinking: It's past lunch time...should the lunch fairy have arrived by now?? Oh wishful thinking...
Wanting: I'm hooked! I started reading Divergent over Christmas and it sucked me in, and now I'm working through Insurgent. Basic plot line: a city is divided into 5 groups which each value a different characteristic. At 16, the main character, Beatrice, has to pick which group she wants to be apart of. However, tension starts to rise between some of the groups. If you like The Hunger Games, you'll probably like these books.
Needing: Yep, it's that time. Time to say goodbye to the tree and lights and decorations. In my family, taking down the Christmas decorations is a New Years Day tradition. When do you take down your decorations?
Memory: This is my 2nd Christmas being married. Last year, my hubby and I spent Christmas with his family, so this year, we came to my family's house. It was really nice to share all of my family's Christmas Eve and Christmas day traditions with my hubby...the Christmas Eve church service, making cookies, opening stockings and presents (while my dad wears his special Christmas morning robe...only day of the year he wears it). I really enjoyed showing him that part of my family traditions.