Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Photo Dump... Linky Party!!!!

Hello All!!!
Join me for my Friday Photo Dump Linky Party, if it's not Friday for you anymore, join in anyway!
This is my first linky, I hope I don't have to party alone! =)
Here are my pictures from this week... it's been a doozy!
Patterning with our car pattern cards.
Making Patterns with a pattern book from
Some go to the computer and some go to the table. is fantastic! Though, we will start iStation next week.
Thanks Kindergarten Crayons!
Some of our 8th graders come once a week to teach a drama class. This week, they were working on puppets! It was so cute to see the "big kids" using silly voices and trying to keep the "little kids" engaged.
The 8th graders are much bigger than me! They were so great with my kindergarteners.

"More patterns??!?" said the kindergarteners. lol. Yes! This time with ice cream!
In the ice cream picture you can see a glimpse of the accommodations we make for our students with special needs. Who says they cannot complete the same activity with everyone else? My students used markers and dot markers, depending on what they need.
Teaching the five senses... feeling different textures.
Ok friends, now it's your turn! Link up and show off all those pictures that didn't make it to your blog posts.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Think about it Thursday: Best Practice

Best Practice? What is best practice? Best practice is defined in so many ways by so many different people. I love my school because we are ever evolving while maintaining our philosophy and putting ALL of our students' needs first. Over the past couple of years my school has gone through many changes: 3 new administrators (we only have 3), changing our school to a K-8 school from a K-5 school AND this year we have new programs that have been put in place. We will be starting a character education program, IWT, kindergarten just acquired an entirely new reading curriculum AND, the kicker, lunch duty once a week. LOTS of changes. Oh, and we have subscriptions to two different websites that we have been asked to get all of our students using weekly. All of this is new to our school. ALL OF IT. We are a small school and I know many of you already do all of these things but again, it is all new to me.
SO, we were in a meeting on Tuesday about & IWT and everyone was panicking. Not just panicking, in a frenzy! Where are we going to get the time? When are we going to plan? Who is going to teach what? When do we do this? When do we start? How do we start? Does that mean I have to do more work? My goodness! I was overwhelmed by the unwillingness of so many! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE trying and starting new programs. I like the organization of it all, I like the potential that I see in my students and new materials that can better help my students. I love it and I am ready for it! But, is this best practice to do IWT? Is it best to cut our day a little shorter in order to spend 20 minutes with these groups? In kindergarten this year, we have kinda decided to spend 20 minutes, 3 days a week on IWT. Is it enough? Is it going to be effective? How will we balance taking out that time? Will it be worth it?

I ask you my friends, what has been your experience with IWT? I'm not sure if my team is ready to hear it but I want to bring them some positives! What have been your most successful groupings? Lessons? Time frames? Anything?

See you all tomorrow for my first Friday Photo Dump linky party!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

iPod Organization & a tutorial

Hi Everyone!
So, I started using my ipods in my classroom yesterday! woo hoo! These kids are so used to the technology already so I didn't have too much explaining to do. I wanted to share with all of you how I organized them this year and how to use the same type of organization for other things like a computer center and maybe even your blog! You may want to look back at my previous post about how I actually use the ipods because today, it's all about the organization! =)
Here's how to make your ipods look like this...
The picture is a little blurry but each iPod has the iPod number and the students' names
I have 8 iPods and a big chunk of our day is in centers. I separated my groups and then numbered the kids in each group 1-6. I felt it was important to have assigned iPods this year because it is easier to track progress on specific games this way.
To make the background, here are the simple steps that I took:
1. Create a document in your favorite program. My favorite is PowerPoint. 
2. Save the document as a JPEG.
3. Email to yourself, save it to your iPod's pictures and change your wallpaper! TaDa! You're done!

If assigning the iPods is too much work or maybe unnessesary, you can just number the iPods using this quick trick.
You can ALSO do this for your classroom computers. This is what mine look like:
The names are different now but you get the point.
I like to set these all up now so that the students know exactly what to expect and when to expect it and I do not have to be a 5 different places at once (well, at least not for these few minutes). The students learn very quickly which iPod to use, which computer to use and there is no fighting or saying "but I didn't get a turn!" because guess what? it's all written down for me! =) Ahhhh, organizational bliss...
Oh! And you can use this trick with things for your blog...see that blog header? I made it in PowerPoint, saved it as a jpeg and then uploaded it to my blog. It's not the prettiest but it works for me (and I'm working on a new one). I am also working on a button to go with my Friday Photo Dump linky party. That reminds me... Start snapping pictures of things around your classroom to dump on Friday. You know those cute pictures that don't really go with your blog post but you want to show them off anyway? Yeah those ones... save them for the Friday Photo Dump linky Par-Tay! lol

Happy Picture taking! I hope someone benefits from this blog post...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Madness!

Hi Everyone!
I'm really back this time! I know, I know, I've said that before but really, I am! Last week sucked the life out of me! I was exhausted each day and now I'm feeling better and better about each day. My class is a beautiful little rosebush that includes some thorns! hehe. I saw this video during a professional development a few weeks ago and I want to share it all with you. It sums up my week. Exactly. lol.

But now that I am in the groove of things again, I can stop herding the cats and start teaching them! It has been just madness! Actually, not really too much madness, just madness for me because I feel so out of control with what is going on. My class is a really great bunch BUT there is one kiddo who is getting the best of me right now! I have a few tricks up my sleeve that have her name on them! I was ready the Teeny Tiny Teacher's blog and she was talking about the control she loses when having a substitute or a student teacher and that's exactly how I feel right now! I feel out of control and I DON'T LIKE IT! (imagine me as a kindergartener stomping my feet!) I hoping to try my tricks to get my kiddo on board, if it doesn't go as planned, I'm asking for all of your help! Stay tuned!
Speaking of student teachers, I just received an email saying that I might be getting a first semester student teacher in a couple of weeks! Yippee! I'm not sure if it is different in other parts of the country/world but here in SoCal student teachers go through 2 semesters of teaching. The first is a half day, gradual take over teaching language arts and math, and the second is a full day, gradual take over teaching all subjects. If I get a student teacher, (s)he will be in their first semester, just getting their feet wet! I LOOOOVVVEEEDDD having a student teacher last year. However, I did have a ROCK STAR student teacher so she ended up being my friend & I am talking to everyone who will listen about getting her a position at our school (yeah you were a rock star, Sandra!). I worry about having a student teacher who isn't such a rock star and I especially worry about giving up control of my class to a one-hit wonder (get it??? because my other student teacher was a rock star?! lol, I crack myself up) Any advice from those who may have had a not-so awesome student teacher?? I am crossing my fingers for another great experience!

Next, I have a little teacher trick I'd like to share...
I recently found out how to erase Sharpie! I know Miss Kindergarten gave the advice of using a rubber eraser and yes, that works BUT if you don't want to get your arm tired from erasing, try this trick...
 I didn't take a picture of me actually covering with a dry erase marker but you get the point! You can do this on anything that has a laminated-like surface... nameplates, tables, whiteboards (yes, whiteboards!). Try it! It is so easy and chances are, you already have these supplies!

Ok friends, that's all for today.

Oh! No! Wait! Start snapping pictures of your classrooms and everything going on, I will be hosting my first linky party on Friday! It's going to be a FRIDAY PHOTO DUMP LINKY PARTY!

Start snapping those pictures!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

And we're back!

Hey! Hey! Hey!
It has been a CR-A-ZY back to school week. I was so exhausted after each day and I stayed so late each day that I came home and plopped onto my bed! I was having a hard time juggling blogging, sleeping and eating. But, I'm back and I'm ready to join some linkys, go back to commenting on all these wonderful blogs and so many classroom photos (I LOVE looking at classroom photos) and keeping myself updated on the blogging world! YAY! Oh, btw, Android finally released a Pinterest app that I canNOT get myself away from. I love me some pinning!
Here's a few pictures of some little things from around my classroom...
I got this idea from somewhere online and I am so glad that I did! I have a spot for all of the lost marker tops and glue stick tops. The students are so good about putting the tops in here. Now, I'm hoping, we'll always be able to find a top! I have even taught a few of my girlies to take the tops off of dried out markers to save for others that lose their tops. Here's to hoping this will last! 
Add caption
 I had my sweeeet, sweeet grandmother sew on pieces of velvro to my carpet squares for name tags and look at the damage they have gone through already! It's only been a week! I should have put them in the middle so that they could sit on them. Ho, Hum... Oh and the trampoline doesn't usually go in the classroom or in that spot. I see those eyes looking at that! lol. I took this picture on Friday afternoon and I brought it inside for safe keeping over the weekend. We use it for sensory breaks for students. The bean bag chairs and rolling chair don't usually go there either. =)

Today I officially started using my new SuperKids reading curriculum! Wooo Hooo! I have been so nervous about this program and now that day 1 is down, I am even more nervous!!!!! I don't know why! Well I do know why... while it is a great program that introduces blending fairly quickly, I worry about the few students on my class that are already reading. I am hoping that once I figure out the program a little better, I can begin to modify the work to meet the needs of the students who are already reading AND those with a disability that causes them not to be able to access the materials from the program. Unit 1, Lesson 1 was fun, interactive but has the potential to bore those who already know that the letter C makes the /k/ sound. Hmf... I have to keep reminding myself that I can't do it all and I definitely can't do it all in one day.

This is a picture of my gingerbread man board... I added a cute title but didn't get a pic of it. On the second day of school we went on a hunt around the school for the Gingerbread Man! He left us clues all around the school (our way of getting them acquainted with the school grounds) to help us find him but he was just too fast! This is seriously the most memorable event in the first month of school for the kids. We didn't catch him but he did leave us a note and a gingerbread cookie as a treat. The next day, we made our own gingerbread men. Aren't they darling? 
Last picture... and the reason why I love, we talked about the letter C and I had some kids predict what picture was on the card I was holding, these were their answers. I wrote and drew them on the board as they raised their hands (as quietly as their kindergarten bodies could be) to give me an answer....

Even though my pictures are awful, all of the students gave me such nice compliments. I am such a great "drawer" according to my class. I'll take it! lol. Oh you can catch a glimpse at some of the books we have read this whole week.  Oh my goodness, one more thing, one of the pictures says "crud" because one of my students raised his hand and said "crud." I was like, "crud?" He said, "yeah, crud. Like when you drop something and you say, 'oh, crud.'" Hilarious! I HAD to write it up there especially because he hasn't raised his hand much this week, I wasn't gonna shut him down with such a great answer! You may notice that my illustration for crud is a serious face. My student's suggestion because, "I get serious when I drop stuff." LMAO! I love that kid!

I am working on a 5 Senses pack with a powerpoint, review, hands-on activities and assessment. Hopefully it will be up soon! We are teaching senses this week so I'm hoping to include all of the things that work out well. Maybe I'll give a few away! =)

Ok friends, if you're here, follow me! If you follow me, thank you! I'm glad you're here. I'm off to blog-stalk!

Happy Monday!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Torture Tuesday! (and a freebie)

Another torture Tuesday?? Yes! Well, kinda. It's my second day with my kiddos and, first of all, let me tell you that my students are awesome! I had only 3 criers. And boy, were they criers! Administration even came over to help. They are all cuties though and did a great job with all of the expectations. By recess, there were no more tears! It's funny how easily I forgot how many routines I have to teach right away. I think we are off to a great start so far. I made a few adjustments to my classroom but no pictures yet.
So why was it torture?? BECAUSE IT WAS 110 DEGREES HERE!!!! It is so stinkin' (I mean stinkin'!) hot! In fact, because it was so hot, we had to have lunch inside for the past 2 days. Don't you know these kids have got to run around! Being inside the classroom all day isn't fun for anyone! Especially me! There were some games of freeze dance though. That's always fun. Lucky me, I didn't have to go out to my first day of yard duty because of the heat. Unlucky me because I still had to stay inside with the stinky kids.
I am exhausted! I do have a freebie for all of you though...
We use this on our first day of school. I have seen on so many blogs that there are many different ideas for The Kissing Hand to use on the first day. Here is our version. It was given to me during my first year and I have no idea where it came from so if you are the author of this poem, please let me know! =)
I use a stamp pad to stamp their names for 2 reasons: 1. stamp pads are easier to clean up 2. stamp pads are easier to clean up. No one wants a big painty mess on the first day of school! lol. At least I don't !
I don't know why it is upside down but if you click on the picture, you can have your own copy!

 It was so cute to hear some of the kids show their "kissing hand" to their parents. One kid says, "Mom, I made this for you so you won't miss me when I'm at school." Oh so cute!  We added a heart in the middle so that it looked just like Chester Raccoon's Kissing Hand.

Now, since we're back in school, I'm going to try my best to give some helpful reflections and some of my tips on inclusion. Here we go... 
What to do for next time?
I would probably ask the kids to come up during a small group. I did this whole group and I would have really liked to see, on the first day, some of the kids write their names and watch them follow the directions. It may have come in handy when deciding centers groups (which we started today).
What to do for inclusion?
This one is easy, everyone can stamp their hand or get assistance stamping their hand! Some students may need support writing their name but stamping their own hand allows for some independence. We really work towards making our students independent because not everyone is going to have a "shadow" their whole lives.

If you are here, follow me! I'll be back tomorrow! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Photo Dump

Hi Everyone!
It was my last day in the classroom before the students come... yikes! I feel so rushed! My husband planned a wonderful camping trip for us...we leave TODAY! AAAHHH!!! Doesn't he know how much stuff I have to do??? I am excited to go to rest my brain because it has been working a mile a minute this week. There are so many changes (for the better) at our school this year with teachers, schedules, administration, academic programs and curriculum and of course, students! I have an exciting year ahead of me!
Here are the last few shots I got of my classroom, hopefully next week's photo dump will be work from my students!
Positive Behavior Support System. I use the traffic light to cue the noise level in my classroom.

Marble Jar (more PBS), Helpers chart: everyone has a job here!

Daily Schedule. I review this each and every morning with my class. We say the times and activities chorally.

Calendar board. Most of my helpers have a job to help with some sort of the morning meeting which includes this board.

Computer table.

One of my kindergarten team members made these for us to show the students the steps of what to do at each center, i.e. cut, color, glue, cubby.

I laminated a library pocket to hold all of the choices. There is one for each table.

Trying to stay organized!

My desk area. Teeny tiny but it works.
As I was looking through the pictures I see some things that I forgot to take pictures of. If you are curious about anything you see, feel free to ask!

Happy Friday everyone! I'm off to the river!

As the school year approaches everyone too, don't forget to check out my TPT products, these are my best sellers right now:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's Thursday? OH NO!

OH NO! My summer is all gone (almost). Monday is school, with students!!! AHHH!!! Ok, Ok, enough with that. Today we had another all day professional development day. We are starting an IWT school wide which is really exciting for me. The problem is that there is no time! Well, we'll make time. Who needs a recess or lunch time, really? lol. Just kidding. After a full day (9-3) of meetings, seminars and what-nots. I was able to get into my classroom for some work. From 6-8 today we also had a Back to School Picnic. It is so crazy and so fun... for the parents and students, not for the teachers. We just want to get into our classrooms! Though, the picnic is important especially for the kinder kiddos that I haven't met yet. During the picnic is the time when everyone finds out which classroom they will be in for the upcoming year so that is always exciting!
Anywho, I'm sharing some of my classroom pictures today and then some more tomorrow. I have to finish everything tomorrow because I am going camping this weekend! Not my idea, my husband's. Not a very good idea given the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL ON MONDAY but I guess I'll survive. haha.

Ok... here we go... let me know what you think!
View from the front door straight ahead

View from the front door to the right

View from my co-teacher's desk to the right

View from my co-teacher's desk to the left
My creative tools bookshelf

I don't have a sink in my classroom so this is what we rely on: baby wipes and paper towels! (you can get a glimpse of my co-teacher's fiance, oops!)

Classroom Library

Free Choice Activities (I'm missing a label on the scrap paper box)

"Centers Shelf"

Turn it in organizer (Thank you Donor's Choose)

Some of my students sit in cube chairs and others on the carpet squares. They will all have their names on them. (I am missing a few, I have 22 students if you were counting. lol)

I (actually my grandma) sewed on some velcro to the carpet squares to stick the name tags on. I also did this to the cube chairs so that I can switch seats around if I need to.

My teacher library. It's a little messy but you can see that I used manila folders to separate the sections. I'm in the process of re-vamping those folders
"The Blue Bookshelf"

My to do list. This is my third one minus the long one in my head!
That reminds me! Join in on Ms. Shope's Linky Party! She's having a to-do list linky party... You just saw mine, no show us yours! lol
Come back tomorrow for some more close ups of my classroom and hopefully a finished product! =)