Thursday, August 22, 2013

Time to Stock up on the Lice Spray

Yep. I'm freaky like that. If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I love Windex. Unfortunately, Windex does not repel lice (well not that I know of).   Hmmm...maybe I should try that the next time one of my students comes to school with lice.  I suppose that might get me in trouble.

In our district (and county), they no longer send kids home with live bugs!  Something about discrimination for a common illness...blah, blah, blah.  Ummm... it's contagious.

I do use a magic lice repellent spray to help keep those nasty pests far away from me (and my own kids). It's called Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Leave-In Conditioning Spray. We've been using it at my house for 4 years. I give my kids one squirt on their hair (and one on mine) before we leave the house in the morning. If they are going to a friend's house to spend the night, I spray it on their sleeping bag and pillow (call me whatever you want).
So far, bug free (and happy as can be).

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Guest Post by Megan from Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade

Hi everyone! I’m Megan from Mrs. Wheeler’s First Grade. I am from Ohio and have been teaching first grade for 10 years.  I am happy to be guest blogging for Kimberly today!  Today’s post is all about assessment! 

Assessment can be a tricky thing, especially for new teachers.  Knowing what to assess and when to assess is challenging.  At the start of the year, I like to get a good picture of each of my students.  I do this by administering both pencil/paper and oral assessments.  Although it can be somewhat time consuming, the one-on-one time I get with my students tells me a lot.  This year, I am super excited about using my assessment pack.  With all the new changes to the standards and teacher evaluation systems, documentation is very important.  These assessments are going to come in very handy for parent meetings and RTI.

In first grade, I do a lot of my assessments with white boards and a checklist.  I like doing this because it’s quick and to the point.  I can assess word family knowledge, sight words, phonics chunks, and most skills for Math.  I keep my clipboard stocked with blank checklists near my rug so I can grab it when I want to do a quick check.

For Writing, I like to use a composition notebook to take anecdotal notes with kids as I conference with them.  I put each child’s name at the top of a page and skip a few pages before putting the next child’s name.  I have found this to be the best method for me over the years.  When we “publish” a story, I use a rubric.  I have my students self-assess with a rubric and then I complete one as well.  I have also seen some teachers use a file box to keep their student’s notes about writing.  The clipboard/label method is also an option.  I recommend finding a system that works for you.  You are the one that will be implementing in your room, so it’s best to find what best meets your needs.  My writing rubrics and lots of other goodies for writing can be found in my writing resource pack, which is shown below.

As mentioned above, for Math, I use student slates for a lot of my assessing.  However, when you have a big group of students in your room, slate assessment isn't always accurate.  It’s very easy for students to peek at others’ boards!  We so busy looking around and marking on your checklist, we probably don’t even notice half the time!  Exit slips are great for the end of a lesson.  You can do these by giving students sticky notes and having them answer a question or problem on them.  These work great for those times when you don’t have an assessment prepped.  I use my Math Quick checks all the time!  It’s so easy for me to pull the ones that I need for the week from my binder.  I have it out during lesson planning so I can ensure I am assessing throughout the week.  


It's good to remember that you should find a system that works best for you!  I hope you enjoyed this post and got some tips!  Please come visit my blog anytime!


Monday, August 19, 2013

What Will They Save?

During the craziness of back to school time, it's easy to get caught up in the schedule, the to do lists and the endless list of routines to teach. Every once in a while it hits me...teaching is a big responsibility!  I try really hard to be the kind of teacher that I would want my own kids to have.

I'm one of those parents who saves things that my kids made or were given each year. I don't save everything, but I choose several special things from each year and keep them in a special bin for each of my children.

It's hard to know what parents will save. For example, my mom saved my kindergarten paint smock. I was in Kindergarten 33 years ago. Several years ago, my mom gave me my paint smock. I love it (although I don't remember the nuns ever letting us paint).  When my mom gave it to me, it was perfectly clean and full of memories.  I let my daughter paint in it (for a photo shoot) when she was a toddler. I couldn't wash the paint off...because it added another layer of happy memories.

When I found my kindergarten paint smock in the closet recently, I sent this picture to my mom.  I told her that I don't know why, but I am super attached to this old paint smock.  I just love it!  My mom knew why...she said it was the top to her maternity pj's that she wore when she was pregnant with me.

Happy birthday, mom!  Thank you for saving my Kindergarten paint smock all those year.

Today, is the last day of the Tpt back to school sale.  
I already purchased lots of back to school treasures.
You can click on the image below to visit my store.
Use the code  BTS13 for extra saving from Tpt!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Guest Post by Kate from EduKate and Inspire

Hello everyone!  My name is Kate and I blog over at EduKate and Inspire.  I was so excited when Kimberly asked me if I wanted to do a guest post for her.  This is actually my first guest post, so I am thrilled to be able to test out the waters over here!  I had the opportunity to meet Kimberly at the Michigan blogger meet up last summer and I am very grateful that she is one of my blogging friends! Just a little background info about me before I get started... I am a second grade teacher from Ohio and am entering my 7th year as a teacher!  While I blog a lot about my classroom and teaching, I also write about technology and school counseling.  I would love for you to stop by my blog and visit! :) There are SO many topics I am passionate about, but I decided to write about one of my favorite areas, which is reading!  I have been an avid reader ever since I was a child.  Even when I was young, I was drawn to non-fiction books because I loved learning about new topics.  As a teacher, I truly enjoy reading professional development books.  The right books always challenge my thinking and inspire me to be a better teacher.  Without further ado, here are some of my favorite books for teachers!
Favorite Books for Teachers
I am going to focus on 7 books... 5 books focus on practical ways of developing stronger readers and writers in your classroom, while the other 2 are humorous books that bring joy to any teacher!  Click on any of the pictures or links to be taken to Amazon where you can read more about the books and see reviews.  
The first book up is Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading.  Comprehension Connections has changed the way that I teach reading.  By focusing on comprehension skills and strategies, Tammy McGregor gives practical and hands-on ways to help students make connections to texts.  The book covers schema, inferring, questioning, determining importance, visualizing, and synthesizing.  Each chapter discusses how to make the comprehension skill meaningful to students not only through reading, but also through music, art, and sensory experiences.  I highly recommend this book!!!
Comprehension Connections Review
Another one of my favorite books for teaching reading is The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child.  The Book Whisperer is a favorite not only because it gives practical ways to inspire a love of reading in your students, but also because the book in itself is inspiring to teachers.  I reread this book every summer because it gives me a fresh perspective about why I do what I do.  And it reminds me of when I first became a reader.  Each time I reread The Book Whisperer, I discover a new way to help my students fall in love with books.
The Book Whisperer Review
Next up is another reading book!  By now, I am sure nearly all of you have heard of The Daily 5 by "the sisters."  The sisters also wrote The CAFE Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literary Assessment and Instruction.  While the Daily 5 focuses mostly on setting up a structure for reading, the CAFE Book focuses more on reading strategies and goal setting.  CAFE stands for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary.  Each main topic includes numerous strategies to introduce in a whole class group.  As strategies are introduced, they are placed up on the CAFE wall.  Students set goals and work on strategies independently and during guided reading.  I love using CAFE strategies and goal setting because it gives students ownership of the skills they are working on.  The sisters even developed an online "pensieve" for teachers to use to keep track of students' CAFE goals and progress.
The Cafe Book Review
Ok, time for a new topic... writing!!  I will confess that writing is the area where I need the most work as a teacher!  It never fails that one student will be completely done, while another student has not even written his or her name on the paper.  Enter... No More "I'm Done!": Fostering Independent Writers in the Primary Grades.  No More "I'm Done!" has rocked the world of writing workshop for me.  Jennifer Jacobson offers so many practical ways to help students develop of a love of writing.  The book is organized into mini-lessons that can be introduced to the whole class.  This book is a must-have for primary classroom teachers!
The next book came as a surprise to me, as it was actually one of my textbooks during my undergrad.  I had to buy the book for my phonics class... typically, I sell back all of my books, but I am so glad I kept this one and rediscovered it years later!  After being fed up with teaching a traditional spelling curriculum where students memorize {and later forget} their words every week, I knew I needed to find a way to differentiate spelling and make it more meaningful to students.  Enter Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction (5th Edition).  Words Their Way is a developmental word study and phonics program.  With this program, I assess my students' spelling three times a year and place them into spelling groups that focus on word patterns.  I piloted the program in my classroom last year and noticed not only a huge difference in spelling, but also extra benefits in reading, phonics, and vocabulary.  The Words Their Way book focuses on the research behind the developmental spelling groups and assessment.  If you decide to implement the program, you will also need the word sort books.  For my second grade classroom, I used three word sort books--Letter Name - Alphabetic SpellersWithin Word Pattern Spellers, and Syllables and Affixes Spellers.  If you are looking to change up your spelling program, you should consider checking out Words Their Way!  I will be writing more about it on my blog soon... stop by and follow me so you can check out the post!
The last two books are just for fun!  I adore these books.  You will love the funny anecdotes in them... the authors are spot on with what truly happens in the classroom!  If you are looking for a great gift for a teacher friend, you should check out these books!
First up is 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching.  Philip Done is absolutely hilarious.  You will laugh out loud while you read this book!  If you are having a crummy day {or school year}, this will cheer you up!
Next up is It's Not All Flowers and Sausages: My Adventures in Second Grade.  You will love Mrs. Mimi's witty humor about copy machine limits and ridiculous professional development.  The title of the first chapter says it all-- "Holy Crap, It's August!"  :)
Ok, there you have it!  I have so many favorite teaching books, I could keep writing for 17 more hours... but I better stop now!  Do you have a favorite professional book that I didn't mention?  I would love to hear about it in the comments! I love to connect with my readers.  Please stop by my blog to connect with me by clicking on my blog button below.  You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and TPT.
Enjoy your last few days of summer!  Thanks for reading and thanks again to Kimberly for letting me stop by!

Thank you, Kate!  Now, I'm going to have to refill my Amazon cart too. Ha! 
I'm for sure going to add the comprehension and the writing book to my cart right away.

Don't forget... Today is the first day of the back to school sale at Tpt! 
Visit me, visit Kate, happy shopping!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to School Sale at Tpt!

So, the best thing about back to school time is sales I mean the kids!
 So let's celebrate those kids with a sale!

More good news - Tpt is offering additional savings if you use the code BTS13!

Here are a few of the most recent additions to my store.

I can't really show you photos of my classroom yet (because it's not picture ready).  
And...I'm not ready to think about "taming" wild children yet.
But, I am busy packing for one last summer vacation!  Woohoo!
My posts will continue while I'm gone and I'll be having a few guests.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Make Your Anchor Charts Awesome! (freebie)

This summer, I read a great book about anchor charts. I make tons of anchor charts with my students each year, but there are times when I feel frustrated if my students don't use a chart the way I planned for it to be used. So, when one of our professional development presenters recommended a book about anchor charts, I popped open my laptop and put it in my amazon shopping cart right away.

 The book is called Smarter Charts by Marjorie Martinelli and Kristine Mraz.

I took this book to the beach with me for 4 days in a row while we were on our camping trip. One of my favorite things about the book is that it is full of photographs of different charts.  I learned lots of new things, developed some new ideas and finished it feeling good about some of the components that I already use well when making anchor charts in my classroom. 

Here are some of the highlights from my notes from the book.  
You can click on the image to download a copy of my "notes" for yourself.

During my back to school shopping, I purchased two things to help me improve my anchor charts this year.  

1. large bright colored sticky notes (8 inches x 6 inches)
I purchased them at Staples when they were buy one get one free (but they were originally $12).

Using large post it notes will allow me to add things to charts without "messing up the whole chart".  Have you ever called a kid up to add something to a chart that took you forever to prepare and they write something like "socr" (soccer) on your carefully crafted amphibians chart?  Large brightly colored sticky notes to the rescue, "socr" gets peeled off and you say the nice teacher thing before you help the little guy/girl think of something more appropriate.  I will also use these brightly colored post its to add special vocabulary words or things that I want them to refer to later.

2. double sided tape
Using double sided tape will allow me to tape student work samples and or pictures of things related to what we are learning about to the chart.  The authors of the book stress the importance of creating charts in front of and with students. It is much faster to use a piece of double sided tape while building  an anchor chart than it is to glue all the pieces.

I have several reusable anchor charts in my classroom.  I prepare parts of the anchor charts in advance, laminate them and then let my students use sticky notes as we build a chart together during a lesson. You'll notice that I tend to use lots of scrapbook paper.

Here are a few of my reusable anchor charts.

This chart is from my Writing My Opinion pack. 
I took this picture before I laminated it...but it's laminated now. 
The pieces to make the chart are included in the pack.

This is my reusable story mapping anchor chart.
Long ago, I wrote a post about how I use this anchor chart.
You can read it and grab a story mapping freebie here.

This is my reusable Reading is Thinking chart.  
I use it for all kinds of different things.  If we are working on characters, I might have the children respond to something about a specific character on a post it note and add it to the chart.  If we are working on text to self connections, I have them write about a connection they had with a certain book.
My students share their post it note as they add it to the chart.
You can read an old post about how I use this chart and grab a main idea freebie here.

This is my reusable Writing Goals anchor chart.
I wrote a post about how I use it in my classroom here.

Obviously, not all of my anchor charts are reusable.  With the help of my sandy copy of Smarter Charts, I'm hoping to kick up the awesome factor while making and using anchor charts with my students this year.  

Now, I'm gonna kick off my slippers and get some sleep.