Sunday, September 14, 2014

What I've been up to

Hellooooo! It's been so long. Again. I have not forgotten about you all, I promise. I just haven't had anything good to blog about! I started school last week, but I'm mainly doing assessments so I don't have much excitement to share. Let me know tell what's not exciting: doing assessments every day for two weeks. I love my job, but I do miss those fun first weeks activities that you get to do as a classroom teacher. On the other hand, I don't miss the stress that comes along with it. So I won't really complain then. :) I've kept busy for sure though. I thought I'd show you a few things that I've been working on:


1. I've had this on my "to-do" list for a year now. I wanted to make a brochure for the parents at my school. My program is still very new (this is my second year) so I know there are still a lot of questions about what it is I do. I made a bunch of these and put them outside my room so parents could take a peek at their leisure. I was happy to have that done. If you are a reading teacher and want to take a closer peek, shoot me an email. I'm happy to show you!


2. I've been sort of working on this one for a while. I keep adding to it! This part I did a while back, but lately I've been adding some short story cards. I hope to have this fun unit for you soon!


3. Confession time. I STILL haven't taken picture of my classroom for you. It isn't that different than last year. For some reason, it still took me forever to set it all up! If you want to take a peek at my room last year, you can see them here. Last year I made the big change from first grade to reading teacher. When I was setting up my room, I realized something was missing. I had this small space that I wanted to fill but it was a tricky space. It's small. It's sort of a focal point when you walk in the room, but too high to really use as a teachable space for students. So I chose to put some of my favorite reading/education related quotes there. Here's what  I came out with:

Okay I'm realizing there is WAY too much glare to actually see anything so I'll show you this way:
(PS. I swear it looks way better in real life.)


I just love looking at these because it gets me all excited about teaching reading. Our goal is to  give our students the tools to make these posters come true, right?

Since there are only 4 of them, I decided to share these with you as a freebie. 
I hope they will make you smile too! :)




Sunday, August 24, 2014

Reading Workshop in First Grade

This is it my friends! Back to school time for me. Tomorrow is my first teacher work day. This summer went by way too fast! This year I'll be doing the reading thing again. I loved focusing on reading all day with the different age age groups. Even though I love my new job, I still miss the classroom. It's just not the same in September. When I taught 1st grade for all those years, my favorite part of the day was my beloved Reading Workshop time. It took me the first couple years to figure out what works for me. Once I did, it was SO nice! I tried to do just centers. Then I tried to do just Daily 5. I loved both... so that's what I decided to do- both! 
Today I'm going to show you how I set up my reading block. 

My reading workshop time is divided into three parts: Guided Reading, Daily 5, and literacy centers.

This is the chart I've used to let students know where they are supposed to be during reading workshop:




I have limited time for my Reading Workshop and not that many students, so 3 rotations worked me most of the time. I had a few years where I had 4 rotations. Here's what that would look like:


I didn't always have access to iPads, so during that 4th rotation, my students would do another round of Daily 5. As the year went on, I would give them special assignments during that 4th rotation. It would usually be a reader response type activity or seat work that may go with your school's reading program.

To reduce the walking around, they all keep book boxes with them. 





I hope this gives you some things to think about when deciding what your reading workshop will look like. If you love Daily 5 but also love some literacy centers, this set up may work for you. You still get to use whatever centers you love, but it's nice to not have to worry about filling that WHOLE reading workshop time with centers. I don't have any prep usually for the Daily 5 and the prep for centers is mostly done at the beginning of the month. My students love doing centers and they like that change each month. 

If you are in the commenting mood, please leave a comment about what your reading workshop block looks like. I love to hear new ideas!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Short Vowel Phonics Packs: Updates and a Bundle

I've bundled! Since I finally finished my short e phonics practice pack, I was inspired to update the other phonics packs. For one, the covers needed a change. Sheesh! If you purchased those packs already, you MUST go and download them again! Did you catch the all caps in the word must. Yep, you must. Why? Go download and you'll see. 

The other exciting piece of info I have for you today is that I bundled ALL of the phonics packs. You can get them all together for a bit of a deal.  


ALL of these packs have ready to print pages:


aaaaaannnd hands-on activities for small groups or centers:


Each pack is about 90-100 pages!



If you want to see them individually, click on the links below:



Thursday, August 14, 2014

August Literacy Centers

I'm not quite in school yet, but I know a lot of you have already been in school for a week or more. A couple years ago I posted my August literacy centers. You may not even be thinking about literacy centers so early, but you could also use this menu to teach the routines and procedures that you will use for the rest of the school year. That's how I use my September menu, since I go back in September.





Here are the August centers:




Very soon, I'll be posting more about my management, organization, and procedures. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask! I'll include answers in my next post. :)









I don't have Kindergarten August yet, but I do have kindergarten for September-June.

I've FINALLY created custom categories on TPT to make it easier to find my centers. How did it take me over 3 years to figure that out?!

Click on the picture to get to my store.





Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back to School You Tube Party!

Hello my friends! 
I am SO excited about this post. Not going to lie though, I'm also a little on the nervous side. 

You may have heard already. My blogging friends and I at the Primary Chalkboard wanted to do something BIG for back to school for you. So we decided to throw a party. Not just any party....



A YouTube party! We are here sharing lots of tips -- organizational, DIY, helpful ideas-- lots of things you can do RIGHT NOW to make your back to school a little easier!

Okay... here goes! My first video for you all today. I hope you enjoy it! My tip is all about how to ease that first week by using simple visuals in the classroom. Remember, first video. A little nervous. :)

Clip art in my video is from :


If you would like some visuals to get started like the ones in this video, you can get a few for free here. I hope this helps you during that first week of school. It really was a game changer for me! :)



Wait! That's not all.


We are having a huge giveaway!

You could win...

$100 Amazon Gift Card

or

$100 TeachersPayTeachers Gift Card

or

A fabulous Michael Kors bag 


Here is a little To Do list to help you get on track to win these things.




Did you catch that last part?

You can EVEN gain EXTRA entries in the giveaway by watching our videos and entering our SECRET WORDS into the Rafflecopter.
We will be linking up 5 new videos every day this week... so you can come back, watch, and enter every day!











Monday, August 11, 2014

Short e Phonics Practice Pack FINALLY (and a freebie)

It's almost laughable how long it's taken me to finish this pack. Let's rewind two and a half years when I finished my first phonics practice pack. I've had so many very polite requests for the short e pack to be finished and it's been on the top of my list, but for some reason it just kept slipping lower and lower. I just couldn't get this thing done! It's been 85% done for about a year. Ha! Well, I buckled down and got it finished finally.

This pack is similar to the others. There are ready to go printables...
4 short e reading passages with comprehension questions and graphic organizers 

  • Nonsense word fluency 
  • Read, Think, Match short e words
  • Short e Sentence Sort
  • Search a Sound
  • Roll and Read
  • Real or Nonsense
  • Short e sentence writing 
  • 2 word family sorts
  • Spin, Read, and Color
  • Making Words
  • Spotlight on e


 AND hands-on activities to use during centers or guided reading groups.




You can pick this up at my TPT store HERE.
It's on sale today! It's $1.50 off!


Here's a little freebie from this pack:

Click on the picture to download your freebie!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Close Reading: Dragonflies

I am so excited about my first close reading pack. This pack includes detailed instructions and several activities to help your kids really dig deep into the text.  I'm loving close reading! I made this pack for teachers who are trying to wrap their brains around close reading. I made it pretty detailed and included enough for 3-5 days of teaching (depending on grade level). This would work well for students in kindergarten-2nd.   


Here is what's included: 




It's still summer vacation for me for another month. (Woo-hoo!) I plan on using this with my students when I get back, but in the meantime, I did it with Shawn. Luckily, he was all about it. Show that boy   some highlighter tape and a few insect pictures and he's good to go.



First, we read through the two page text. I laminated it front to back. 
If I were in the classroom, I would either use my document camera and project it for the whole class to see or I would make copies front to back for more proficient readers who could do this independently. I'll be using it during my reading groups when I go back to school, so I probably will end up laminating 6 copies. 

After the read-through, we went over vocabulary. I used these vocabulary cards and did several different activities. We acted out some of the words. For example, the word hover is the perfect word to act out. I had a plastic dragonfly and had that dragonfly hover over different objects. We also looked back at the text and reread the sentences with some of the vocabulary words to get the context.  I had him guess the meaning of some of the words, based on the context.


Before the 2nd read, I told him we were going to pay close attention to how the author wrote this text. I asked him to think about why there were different chunks or sections. After reading each section, we labeled what we thought the big idea or topic or that section was. We also talked about how the pictures help us understand the text.



I also printed out those different sections onto separate pages, so we could look more closely at them.  I thought this would be helpful if you were doing this whole class with kindergarteners. We gave each a label and talked about how the author helps us understand what we are reading by chunking up the text like this. 

As a extra little activity, (if you decide to use the pages that chunk up the text by sections), you could give a topic and they can swat the page that has that topic (using the pictures to help them decide). Put these up on your white board and have kids come up to swat the page to show the topic or where they might for information about something.




For our third read, we used investigation cards. Together, we read the investigation questions and went back to the text to find evidence to support our answers. This was his favorite part because he got to use highlighter tape and wikki sticks to show his evidence. 


He is swatting the paragraph where he thinks he will find his answer. 







He also used this high lighter strip to show his answers:








Last, we did a little writing assignment. The writing pages are the same as the investigation cards. The only difference is that they have to write their answer instead of just discussing it and showing the answer in the text. Here, he used little sticky notes to show me where his answers were in the text. Then he got to use that highlighter tape again. 


As a little extra, we did this "Create a Scene" activity. He had to draw a place where he'd find a dragonfly and include its prey. Again, he had to take info from his text to complete this. 


I can't wait to use this in my classroom with my small groups. I plan on making two more insect packs and then bundling them together. Maybe ants and grasshoppers? Then I want to dive into ocean animals because that's the newest things with my son. :) 




I have it on sale today for $2.50!