Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday: First Day Jitters

With the start of a new school year comes several "must read" books.  One of these is First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.  

The book begins on the morning of the first day of school. Mr. Hartwell argues with Sarah about getting out of bed.  Sarah complains that she is scared to start a new school and wants to stay in bed all day.

 Sarah hides under the covers, claiming a stomachache, and refuses to come downstairs for breakfast.  Mr. Hartwell doesn't know what to do. 

 Eventually he coaxes Sarah downstairs and into the car.  Sarah continues to worry as they approach the school.  The principal meets Sarah at the door and shows her to her new classroom.  Upon arriving she finds a big group of students waiting for her. 
And here comes the big surprise... Sarah is the teacher!

My kiddos always get a big kick out of the surprise ending.  One of my sweet boys said, "What?!  Teachers don't get scared!"  He just couldn't believe it.

After reading the book we do several fun activities from Babbling Abby's Crazy for Kinders pack. 

Crazy for Kinders! {Back to School for Kindergarten}

Of course we drink Jitter Juice!  I simplify the original recipe and just use two ingredients: Sprite and sprinkles.  I put a Jitter Juice label on a bottle of Sprite and pour it into the students' cups.  I tell them that the magic ingredient is sprinkles.  I walk around and add sprinkles to every cup.  They love watching as the sprinkles dissolve and the Sprite turns a multitude of colors.  It really does seem like magic!

I also have the students decorate a poem about Jitter Juice.  The take the poem home and share it with their parents.  

If you want to add a math component, some teachers have their students create a graph showing how many students liked Jitter Juice and how many didn't.  

This is a great book for discussing those first day jitters!

If you don't have a copy of the book, you can find it for free on Youtube!

What books do you like to share during the first weeks of school?

I'd love for you to leave a comment and follow me through Google or Bloglovin'!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Teacher Week: What

You've learned about me, my classroom, and my schedule.  Now I have the chance to tell you about what I love to teach.

Last year I incorporated Daily 5 into my ELA curriculum and now I can't imagine my classroom without it.  It's seriously one of the greatest things I've ever done.  I love how the Daily 5 encourages independence in my students and puts them in charge of their own learning.

I use all five Daily 5 components in my classroom: 

Read to Self 

Read to Someone 


Work on Writing

and Word Work.

 However, I don't give my students as much choice as recommended.  Instead, I assign the kids two components each day.  This ensures that everyone is doing a little bit of everything.

The Daily 5 is definitely my favorite part of the day (once all the routines are learned) and it quickly becomes the kids' favorite part of the day too.  Last year when field trips or early dismissals kept us from the Daily 5, the students clearly expressed their disappointment.  I thought it was pretty funny when one of my girls said, "Can we skip the zoo and do the Daily 5 instead?"  Now that's engagement!

What do you love to teach?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Teacher Week: When

How do we fit it all in?  I grapple with this question each week as I plan my lessons.  Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to squeeze in all the things we're supposed to cover!

I loved the visual schedule that Rachel shared on the original Blog Hoppin' post, so I decided to create my own.  A big shout out to Cara Carroll from the First Grade Parade for creating such awesome Schedule Cards.   You can download your own set for FREE!

Schedule Cards {The First Grade Parade}

Here's  a rough idea of what our day looks like. 

Morning Work
When the students arrive in the morning they hang up the backpack, turn in the communication folder, make their lunch choice, grab their Morning Work binder, and get to work.  

Kindergarten Morning Work {The Bundle}

This morning work, created by A Teeny Tiny Teacher, is great because it allows the students to work independently.  The directions are very similar each day, so they know exactly what to do.

Once the bell rings at 8:05 we move into calendar time.  While I complete the calendar pages on the Smart Board, the students complete the same work simultaneously in their Morning Work binders.  Calendar time allows us to review Common Core skills on a daily basis.

It's Calendar Time! Interactive Daily Calendar Book

Our school uses the Envisions curriculum.  We're required to follow it REALLY closely, so I don't have much wiggle room for creativity.  When we have a chance, I like to throw in math-related songs like Dr. Jean's Macarena Count to 100.

One thing I really, really like about our schedule is that our kids have two 15 minute recesses a day.  This gives my squirmy kiddos ample time to run and play.

Big Book
We use Reading Street for our ELA curriculum.  Part of the program includes a weekly big book.   These books gives us an opportunity to discuss comprehension topics such as character, plot, setting, main idea, etc. While we're reading, the kids also get to enjoy a snack.  

Math Stations
My math station time is roughly based on Debbie Diller's ideas.  The students work with a partner to practice math concepts covered during whole group time.  We play a lot of games!  

Daily 5
We complete two rounds of twelve minutes each.  This gives me an opportunity to work with two small groups.

The other two teachers in my cohort and I split our kids based on needs and abilities.  This allows us to differentiate and meet the needs of all of our students.

A second chance to get our wiggles out!


Music, art, PE, library, computers, or counseling.

Science and Social Studies
Last year science and social studies wasn't included in the schedule, so it's pretty exciting that it's back!

Writer's Workshop 
We will begin using the Write Steps curriculum in October.  Until then we'll be practicing writing our names and sight words.  We'll also be talking quite a bit about writing during Daily 5. 

Rest Time
This time gives me an opportunity to assess students.  In December we'll gradually move from resting to a third and fourth round of Daily 5.

Pack Up and Dismissal
It takes a long time at the beginning of the year to get all the kiddos where they need to be at the end of the day!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Teacher Week: Why stay organized?

Today' s Teacher Week topic is organization. I've always had somewhat of a Type A personality.  In high school I would plan out my outfits weeks in advance and record them in a notebook.  Even now I like to have dinners, workouts, and to-do lists planned before the week begins.  I'm a little crazy.  

Needless to say, classroom organization comes naturally to me.  There are so many forms of classroom organization that there's no way to cover it all in one post.  Today I'm only going to discuss the organization of my lesson plans.

I keep my lesson plans organized by storing them all on Google Drive.  I have a folder titled "Lesson Plans" and within this folder I have a folder for each week of the school year.  I create a new document for each day of the week.  

It's not very pretty or exciting, but it makes it super easy to make changes or find plans from previous days.  Plus there's no messy stacks of paper involved. 

After my lessons are organized on Drive, I print them out and highlight the activities that require materials.  I then find, organize, and copy these materials.  This leads to a neat, organized stack for each day of the week.  I store these stacks in labeled containers by desk.  

See the five containers on top of the black filing cabinet?  This isn't the best picture, but you get the idea.  

I simply take out the next day's stack and set it on my desk before I leave each night.  It couldn't be simpler!  

How do you stay organized?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Where do we learn?

Continuing with Teacher Week, today I'm going to give you a tour of my classroom by answering the question: Where? 

With my new school came a new classroom and I love, love, love it!  It's so much bigger and brighter than my last one.  

This is the view from the classroom door.  Look at all those kiddos working hard!  We were learning about the color green, can you tell?  

When you walk in the door, this shelf is on the right-hand side.  The top shelf houses the students' Morning Work binders.  They grab their binder on their way in the door and they're ready to work!

Next you'll find the students' cubbies.  The binders on top of this shelf hold the students' portfolios.  I'll add more details about these in a later post.

This is my desk.  I made the choice not to have a desk at my last school, so I wasn't too excited when I learned that we were required to have one at my new school.  However, I've come to love it!  My classroom is a lot bigger, so I suppose it's not a big deal to have a corner all my own.  Looking at this picture, I think I need to clean off the top of the tall filing cabinet - yuck!

This bulletin board is behind my desk.  I hang pictures of all my smiling kiddos.  They love to come check themselves out!

This little computer stand thingamajiggy is the best piece of classroom furniture ever!  It has a spot for my computer, the Elmo, speakers, etc.  It also has wheels so I can spin it around and use it standing in front of our whole group area or while sitting at my desk.  

Another one of my favorite things about my new classroom is that we have our very own sink and water fountain.  And our OWN bathroom!  No more sending kids out in the hallway and crossing my fingers that they come back in a timely matter.

 I use the counter next to the sink as my Lunch Choice area.  Each kid has a stick (I made them rainbow, so kids can find their name faster) and the lunch choices are posted in each area.  In this example, choice one was pizza, choice two was corn dog, and the third spot is for students who brought their lunch from home.  They simply move their stick beneath their lunch of choice, and voila! instant lunch count.

This is the classroom library.  I love how the rug coordinates with the bean bags!  I don't put all of my books out at once, instead I keep some bins in my closet and rotate throughout the year.

This is my small group area.  Behind the table I house the materials I need for reading and math groups such as leveled readers, magnetic letters, flashcards, etc.

This is the math area.  All of our math manipulatives are stored in one place.  The boxes on top are Math Stations.  Having everything in one place makes managing Math Stations easy-peasy.

Further down on the counter we store our Book Boxes.  Each kid has a box labeled with his/her name that holds books and a notebook for Daily 5.

This is our interactive Word Wall.  The words are held up with magnets.  When the kids need help spelling a word, they can find the word on the wall, take it to their seats, write it down, and return the word to the wall.  This week we added color words.  The kids were so excited that they used the words and wrote them on random assignments.  I love kindergartners!

 Our daily schedule.  The picture clues help my pre-readers keep track throughout the day.

 A comprehensive view of the front of the classroom.

On another wall I display my kiddo's work.  I used 3M hooks and tied fishing wire between them.  Each wire houses six or seven clothes pins.  The purple bags below hold Daily 5 Word Work materials.

This is the bulletin board display outside of my classroom. It's hard to tell in the picture, but each pair of sunglasses has a student's name written on it.

What does your classroom look like?!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Teacher Week: Who

     I'm joining two linky parties today to tell you a little more about myself.


       I'm a kindergarten teacher in Southwest Missouri.  This is my third year teaching and my third position!  I began my career as a kindergarten teacher at an urban school in St. Louis.  The following year I moved to a first grade position at the same school.  And this year I've moved to a rural district teaching kindergarten.  I still laugh every time I look out my classroom window and see cows!
      I'm definitely a city girl, but I sure am enjoying myself out here in the country!  My boyfriend and I love trying new things and going new places.  This past weekend we went to our first rodeo and visited the Missouri State Fair.

     Since moving we've also taken a few road trips to Oklahoma and Texas. Traveling is definitely my most beloved hobby.

I also love my momma and my sister,

my baby brother,

and the rest of my family!

The movie Clueless, ice cream (any and every kind), ciders, festivals and fairs, road trips, audio books, and step aerobics.

 An educational psychologist.  My undergraduate degree is in child psychology, and I'd still like that to be my second career in 20 years or so.

Adventurous, organized, and motivated.

"I hope the rain holds up so we can have indoor recess!"

Hillary Clinton

The Bomb Diggity 

 Teleporting!  How awesome would it be after a long day of work/traveling/exploring to snap your fingers and be at home on the couch?!

Make everyday ridiculously amazing. 

 I wouldn't sing anything!  I'm a horrendous singer.  In college we had to sing all the time for sorority stuff, and I'd just lip sync the words!

Hmmm, that's a tough one!  During the school year I'm a morning person because I have to be.  But I suppose during the summer I do enjoy staying up late and sleeping in!

 My alphabet posters!  I have them hanging in my own classroom, and they get a ton of compliments!
Alphabet Posters A - Z

I really love fast food!  I'm totally embarrassed to admit it, but I love Taco Bell and McDonalds!  

Now you can go link up for Teacher Week!