Friday, October 20, 2017

Community Unit Part 1

My elementary school is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. And we are part of the Primary Years Program (PYP) for IB. Each month we focus on a unit that fosters meta-cognition and global awareness. What does this mean at the Kindergarten level? 

Our first unit was a focus on self. What does it mean to be in school? This unit covered everything Kindergarten classes do at the beginning of the year: routines, rules, friendship, understanding, and patience. Our second unit is on Community.

We began our Community unit this week and are starting small. 
Our first question was: What is a community?  
We discussed our classroom community and tied it into our rules and routine. Then we made our self-portraits that now hang in the hall and remind us that we are a team and depend on each other.

 Our second lesson in community was on Neighborhoods. We learned that we have 3 neighborhoods that we could possibly be a part of: Rural, Suburban, and City. We are working through the unit by Karen Jones titled  Little Thinkers Social Studies Unit 4: Community

This unit it very well organized and takes students through meaningful lessons with PowerPoint presentations and activities that students love.
 We learned that many students in our class live in apartments.
We learned that some students live in a house. 
We also learned that some students live in a hotel as temporary housing. 

We celebrated every type of neighborhood and living arrangement as a way to understand that being part of the community it important, no matter where you live.

Next week we will learn about our neighbors and places in the community.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Handprint Calendar 2018

Every year I make a Handprint Calendar for my students to give their families during the holidays. It is a calendar for the entire year and is such a precious keepsake for parents. My new template is up on Teachers Pay Teachers and I wanted to share it with you because it is the perfect time to begin working on this project.

Each day I will pull students back (or have a volunteer do it!) and paint students' hands. Some days I can do 2 different pictures at once and saves me a lot of time. Each month gets its own hand print that matches a poem that is printed on the calendar. You will place the hand print on the back of the previous month so that when the calendar is flipped you will see the painting! Check it out here:
  • Print every month on a different color card stock.
  • Combine like colors when painting. For example, you can paint the pumpkin and the goldfish on the same day because the color is orange for both. 
  • Make sure you paint the hand print going the opposite direction from the previous month printed on the other side. You want the direction of the hand print to flip when parents change the month. 
  • DO NOT bind the calendar until after you have painted all of the hands. If you make a mistake, you can just change out one page instead of taking the whole book apart. 
  • Use markers and glitter glue to decorate your hand prints. The more elaborate you get, the better they look!
Feel free to ask me any questions regarding the calendar. I hope your families love it as much as mine!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Freebie Bump It Game~

Here is a FREEBIE Bump It Game I made as an assessment for my incoming Kinders. The game serves 3 purposes:

1. Teach the kiddos how to use dice trays
2. See how they work in partners
3. Assess their knowledge of numbers and quantities

Because I am doing this game with EVERY Kindergartener in school the first week (we are rotating classes), I want to make sure it is purposeful, as well as fun. Students love dice and will be using them a lot throughout the year. Why not let them experiment, while I give an informal assessment on their number sense?

I will print and laminate this board double sided, so that we can spend the first few minutes of the game matching dice patterns, and the rest of the game matching numbers to quantities.

How to Play:
Students will take turns rolling a dice. After they roll they will match their dice to one of the board, covering up that square. Then it is the next person's turn. They continue until there is no more places to put a given number, in which case they can "bump" the other person's dice. I use two colors of dice (white and blue) so they can tell which dice belongs to them.

I don't usually have a winner. But, if you choose to, just have them count who has the most dice on the board at the end of the game.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Teaching New Part 3: Transferring a Credential

Welcome to the boring section of Teaching New! Well, it's boring, but it is the MOST IMPORTANT part of getting the new job! I got my credential in California. I got my masters in California. Yet, I have moved to Oregon. Luckily, a California is reciprocal in many states and it is in Oregon. BUT, I had to get an Oregon Reciprocal License BEFORE the start of the new school year. I put in my initial application early, which is great and an accident. I just thought I would go ahead and do it since I will be in Oregon for awhile.

So that ends the easy part! From there on out it was a definite adventure that was both frustrating, but rewarding. I knew that my job was contingent on getting my license. Ok, I was just waiting for it to go through. But, then I got an email saying I needed to turn in a laundry list of items to the TSPC (Oregon licensing), many of which I did not have. It was a crazy, angry, stressful race to get things in before the next day. I graduated in 2004, got my credential in 2005. It's not like I can just order my transcripts. They are ARCHIVED!! (I am that old...) Long story short, I had to pay a lot of money to get things overnighted to Salem, OR. But, I got them all in.

Within a week I had my license. FINALLY! It was the best feeling! Now I have to take a few tests and prove I have taken all the CSETs. I have a year to do it, though, so that's nice.

So, yeah, it's boring to read about, but stressful to get. I am very proud of myself because I accomplished the task. And now I am certified in 2 states!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

My Kindergarten Calendar: Number Writing Practice

I have just put up a new product on TpT. It is a quick and easy monthly calendar that gives students number writing practice. You can pull this out at the beginning of the month, practice increasingly challenging number writing activities, and talk about the month ahead. My Kindergarten Calendars are a fun way to practice number writing skills in a meaningful way.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Teaching New Part 2: Getting Settled

After my acceptance of the position as Kindergarten teacher, I met with the principal, who took me on a tour of the school. I come from California and am used to schools with outdoor hallways. Since I now live in the Pacific Northwest where rain is a constant thing, I am moving into an indoor school. (I actually think  that it's pretty cool. Reminds me of The Neverending Story, and I LOVE The Neverending Story!)

My building is called Kinder Village, since it is its own smaller building next to the main building. I think that name is pretty adorable.

After my tour, it is on to...

Step 2: Moving In

I have my keys! Yes, I can unlock the building, walk down the hallway, open the door, look inside. And when I look inside, guess what I find? A classroom full of stuff left by someone I have never met. Granted, it was very nice to have access to materials in case I didn't have any. There are a million books, lots of games, flashcards, toys, etc. The problem is that I have been teaching for 12 years and have all of MY stuff in a storage compartment somewhere, waiting to arrive. Where am I going to put it??

I have to make a game plan:
1. Go through curriculum and get rid of anything old.
2. Put all books into one area of the room.
3. Clean out and organize cabinets
4. Organize math pieces and flashcards as much as possible.
5. Move furniture around so that it looks like I did something!

So far I have completed these steps. Now, I just need to put everything in its place. I also need to be mindful of everything else I need to bring into the room. It's overwhelming, but I am making progress.

What is amazing is that I have found items that I LOVE and do not own. Also, I can get a good look at the curriculum I will be using and begin my planning process. My goal is to be done with the cleaning by the end of the week. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Teaching New Part 1: The Interview

Hi everyone! I began teaching Kindergarten in 2005 and have been teaching 12 years! (Yes, that's math...) Well, I am in a new state and starting a new school! AND, I am still teaching Kindergarten! Yay!

I thought it might be fun to document my time as a relocated teacher. Everyone fears change (especially me!) and having to start over is never easy. So, as a little reassurance to other teachers out there, and for myself, I will be walking through my steps to becoming an old teacher in a new place.

Granted, some teachers may never have to experience this craziness. Some may experience this kind of specialness a lot. But, I don't think many people have taught 12 years somewhere and then had to relocate and start over. If you have, leave a comment! I would love to hear your story. 

Here we go....

Step 1: The Interview
First of all, I was desperate for an interview. I thought it would never come! Seriously, I thought it would never come. Everyone said it was a matter of time. But, my brain was telling me otherwise. Shows what my brain knows. I got an interview 2 weeks into the move. When I finally got one (after applying at 20 different schools!) I did everything I could to make sure I stood out as a highly-qualified teacher.

Of course, I bought a new outfit. Obviously...

I applied for the Oregon Teaching License. You can't expect your old credential to get you noticed. 

Then I started to get my teaching portfolio together. Here are some pics:
 Colorful cover

 Table of Contents

 Introduction Letter

 PowerPoint Presentation I gave at the interview

Student Samples

Many teachers already have a portfolio, and mine is by no means the best way to do it. This is just a small example.

What I think DID set my interview apart was my presentation. Usually you go to an interview and the committee asks you questions and you answer them as best you can. Instead of that standard process, I did a PowerPoint presentation that actually included a video of me teaching a lesson. Not only did my presentation answer a lot of the committee's questions ahead of time, but they were impressed with the example of actual teaching. Many principals have never had a candidate bring video of practice before. I included it in the Methods portion of my presentation as a YouTube link.

The interview went very well, and I felt very relaxed answering the questions they did have for me. I was offered the position the next day! Yay!

Next up, I will share my war with setting up a new classroom while most of my stuff is still in storage and all I have is what is left over from the previous teacher. Should be interesting...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Counting in Kindergarten

Learning how to count is something we all do. But, how do we do it? I think those who are not teachers can take for granted the process that children have to go through to learn how to count. And there is a difference between learning how to count and how to apply strategies to counting. Everyone has a friend who can look at a group of objects and count it in their head while you are stuck counting it slowly and inaccurately. As a Kindergarten teacher, giving students the skills at an early age to organize their thinking and apply these strategies to different situations is what teaching is all about!

I LOVE to use manipulatives when I teach counting. Dumping a bunch of seashells on a table and asking the kids to count them is so fun for them and so helpful for me. It is a quick insight into their ability to rote count. Without rote counting skills, nothing can be done in the world of math. Building from there, having them use the number line, use ten frames, base 10 units, etc., is all branching off the ability of rote counting.

Each year I use my Kindergarten Counting Unit to have students apply strategies and think about their numbers through out the year. Students work through number 0-30 and do everything from one-to-one correspondence, to base 10, to number order. Take a look:

In addition to my counting unit, I LOVE Deanna Jump and Deedee Wills' Guiding Kinders Math Units. I actually use these more than the school curriculum (shhhhh.......). They are organized into monthly units and really hit everything that Kinders need in a math curriculum.

And, just for fun, I thought I would throw out one of my favorite resources in young children's math research. Megan Franke is an author/researcher/genius who really looks at how young children learn and what makes learning fun and engaging. I have seen her speak and always leave so inspired. If you get a chance read any one of her books. They are amazing!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Back to School Sight Word Bundle

For many, summer vacation is just about over. Teachers are kicking it into high gear to get classrooms ready and prepare the year ahead. Every year I always take a look at my curriculum map and go over everything I need to cover. I look at the curriculum adopted by the school and know that I am going to need to supplement the heck out of it!

My team and I use my Sight Word Units throughout the entire year. These awesome units, which were created as a joint effort, I assure you, allow students to practice 5 sight words a week. My center units allow students to review the old and practice the new every week using fun activities.

Studies have shown the Kinders are ready to learn 100 or more sight words during the school year. Why hold them back?? Using these units, you will have everything you need to create a comprehensive sight word program for your Kindergarten classroom.

 These are the direct instruction sight word lessons. I do one page a day, with a lesson on specific words throughout the week. I have linked the Sight Word Bundle to the pictures, but you may choose to buy the units separately, Pre-Primer and Primer. 
And the great news is that the Core Word Units are FREE!!

 Below are the centers that accompany the Sight Word Units.
These have a built in spiral review so that students are practicing the words new and old. Again, these pictures are linked to a bundle, but you may buy them in three separate units: Core/Pre-Primer/Primer

I begin teaching the Core Words the second week of school, alongside the letters and sounds. There are 3 words in a list and 7 lists in the Core Word Unit. Its gives students a jump start in understanding how letters make words and a solid foundation of the most used words in their stories. Because the unit is FREE you can try it! If you like it, you may choose to continue on with the program. I do one list a week, UNLESS the week is short or students are having a particularly difficult time with a list. 

My experience over the past 5 years using this program is that my Kinders are reading on average 90 words by the end of the year. I call that success! Leave me a comment if you have had any success with my program. I would LOVE to hear about it.

Back to School Sale!!!!! Yaaaaaay!!!!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Communication Calendar Update!

For all of you amazing teachers, home-school teachers, day care providers, and moms (or dads!) who use my Communication Calendars to communicate your child's behavior, you are in luck! I have updated the file so that you will have access to a new school year free of charge! I hate buying something, only to have it need to be renewed soon after. Because I know the struggle of trying to maintain a classroom on a very (VERY!) limited budget, I did not want to make those who have already purchased this product pay for another year. I appreciate your business and hope you have had success with my Communication Calendars.

If  you have NOT used my Communication Calendars in the past, let me introduce you to the most powerful tool I use in my classroom on a daily basis.

Communication Calendars are more than just an event calendar, more than just a behavior chart, more than just a model for classroom management. Communication Calendars are a way to COMMUNICATE to parents on a daily basis about events, behavior, successes, homework, set-backs, whatever you need to communicate. The reason they are so useful is because they are EDITABLE. Communication Calendars are a PowerPoint file and all you need to do is insert a text box to add what you need to the calendar. Please see my post on how to edit the calendar. :) I use these calendars every day for behavior. I put field trips and school event on them. I add holidays, homework due dates, and even a place for parents to initial that homework has been completed. They stay in my students take-home folders for the entire month. Take a look:
 By giving parents the ability to see, daily, how their child is doing in school and giving them the opportunity (in advance) to see upcoming events and homework due dates, parents are empowered and support the kiddos. I think of these calendars as my most important tool because they are so versatile. I hope you download and enjoy this resource. I know me and my AMAZING team have used them for years and cannot live without them.

New Home, New Adventure!

Hi everyone! I know it has been awhile (a long while, I know...) but, it is because I have moved! My family and I relocated to Portland, OR this month and are still getting adjusted to our new lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Needless to say, I am on the hunt for a new school and a new adventure. I am so excited to get to know the families in the area and find a spot of my own in which to teach. My husband is the newest employee at the Nike World Headquarters and I could not be more proud of him for getting his dream job. Not it is my turn to get my dream job! I will keep you posted on where I will find my next school In the meantime, I will be posting new products on TpT and giving away freebies! Happy Summer!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Butterflies are Out!

Our butterflies have come out of their chrysalis! We actually saw 2 of them nibble their way out, just this morning! Our life cycle is complete and we are so happy to have them.

Fun Fact: A caterpillar's body completely dissolves inside the chrysalis. They will basically get "put back together" as a butterfly, with pigment to dye the scales on their wings. That is the red stuff you see on the white disc.

Fun Fact: We will feed our butterflies the juice from a Cutie until we let them go in the wild. They love to eat everything from flower nectar, to rotten fruit, to turtle tears!

The metamorphosis of a butterfly, ladybug, and even honey bees is incredible. A true demonstration of life itself. It is always a great day to see my students see a butterfly emerge. 

Your child has brought home their Butterfly Observation Journal. Take a few minutes to talk to them about it and how amazing butterflies truly are.

Earth(worm) Day!

On Friday, we celebrated Earth(worm) Day!

This is a fun day where we get to investigate earthworms. We learned about the special job they have and how they are so important to the earth and our garden. One of the amazing books we read was Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser.

Then the fun part began! We got to get up close and personal with some real earthworms! Because Kindergarten already had a worm house, we had the worms visit us for a couple of days.

 Bella was extra brave during her investigation!

 Avery and his worm got along just fine. 

After we had a little time to get to know each other, each student did an investigation page. Then we tallied our responses. Needless to say, most of the worms were slimy, wiggly, and long.

Today we made Worms in Dirt!
If you don't already know, Worms in Dirt is chocolate pudding and crushed chocolate cookies to make the soil. Then we put in gummy worms. (No one wanted the real worms in their cup, go figure!)

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