Sunday, February 26, 2012

Writer's Workshop

I am so jealous of all the great stuff I have found for Dr. Seuss week! I wish that I gave enough time into creating my own activities, but instead I mostly look for the freebies and wait on the TPT super sales like the one coming up on Wednesday. So just want to first thank all the bloggers who create and share a piece of their creations for free for those like me who are not committed enough to create our own, or pay for tons of units. I do love paying for the big themes I use in my classroom, cause the students get so excited over them, and so do I! Ok, so after that rant...... my first student work post!

Writer's Workshop~ I have a love/hate relationship with writing in Kindergarten. This year I am loving it. My students are getting it, and seem to be enjoying it. Prior to returning from maternity leave last January I HATED writing! The students are on such different levels and trying to reach them all and keep them actively engaged in writing was a nightmare for me. Part of the reason I have so many resources, due to trying to get myself excited about teaching writing. When I returned from maternity leave, my students were far from where I had anticipated they should have been when I returned (granted the students did miss the whole month of December due to snow). So I knew like it or not I had to do better reaching my students. I began meeting with a small group of students each day and worked with those 4/5 students while the others worked in their writer's workshop folders. The students liked coming to my table and working with me. I was able to get them farther than I expected just doing that. Of course it was eye opening seeing how many students were struggling, but once I began meeting with them, caught on pretty quick.

I pull from a variety of writing resources... Lucy Calkins (Units of Study for Primary Writing), Matt Glover and Katie Wood Ray (Already Ready), Andrea McCarrier, Pinnell & Fountas (Interactive Writing), and Ted DeMille (Making Believe on Paper). Also I got a great refresher in writing with my students from Crystal from Kreative in Kinder's Presentation at the Everything Kindergarten EXPO. I LOVED it. I bought a ticket to the Primary EXPO, but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. (Downloaded my goodies though). Anyways (squirrel) back to the topic!

So this year, I began the year FOCUSED on Writing! We have been writing every single day. We begin the year with All About Me books, where the line leader of the day is showcased and we learn things about them, then illustrate a picture of them with items we learned about them. We work on drawing skills and writing student names at this point. Once finished with All About Me books, I introduce Writer's Workshop Folders and we began drawing and labeling our pictures. Once we can label 7-10 things in our picture, we move onto to paper with two lines to begin writing sentences. I loved how Crystal showed that you take one label from your picture and use word wall words to complete a sentence. I had never thought of it that way. I am now doing that with some students and it is making a huge difference. Once they can write a sentence, I teach a small group about 3 page stories. We typically do a week of writer's workshop, then take a break and do themed writing activities. Last week it was answering what do you think the tooth fairy does with all those teeth. I will have to take a pic of our bulletin board we did with that writing and our pictures. I will try to do that tomorrow. Then we will go back to a mini lesson and focus on writer's workshop again. The students are doing well with writing this year. I like to play classical music as background noise and I give the students a chance to tell a partner what they are working on prior to sending them to tables to work. For the first 5-10 minutes they do a wonderful job. Anyways here is a few pics of my kiddos writing tables and work.

Here are a few examples of my students writing.

I will post more writing pics, later.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Giveaways Galore

So many great bloggers are having spectacular giveaways. Head on over to grab your chance to win. I can't wait till I am able to host my own giveaway. I am hoping for 30 followers by my 30th Bday at the end of March!

Just Teaching Kindergarten is teaming up with friends for a giveaway. Check them out.

Time 4 Kindergarten is hosting a quick giveaway ending tonight Tuesday Feb 21st at 9. So hurry on over!


Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits has teamed up with other bloggers for a March Lucky Giveaway.Head on over for your chance to win.

Good Luck!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Teaching files and A GREAT math find!

So my coworkers and I try to get together once every two weeks to discuss what each other is teaching (thematic wise). While going through our files, it is becoming VERY clear that most of the activities and items in our files are not academically appropirate for our kinders these days. Our system is changing to Common Core next year, and we are beginning to look over them now. I personally don't do very many art activites due to I don't see an educational value with most of the activities that are in my files or that I see others doing. I wish I could do more but I have to find a purpose to it:)

It bothers me that parents and other teachers assume that certain teachers do a fantastic job because they showcase student's work. For the most part a parent volunteer or assistant has previously cut out the shapes and done most of the WORK! All students have to do is glue it. Everything that is put in the hallway looks mostly the same. Writings and other work is prompted and helped with if it goes up where people can see it.

In my room it is my students actual work. Yes I help..... but 90% of it is student done. Another reason I can't do artsy is when you let students to the work it takes more time from learning. I love the activities I do, and you can clearly see what kids can and what kids can't. And it doesn't bother me, because it shows how in kindergarten ALL students are at very different levels of learning.

We recently had the county school board visit to our school and yes I actually forgot they were coming, and when I went down the hall that morning the other kinders had artsy activities up and one had writing showcased. I of course didn't want to be the only one without anything in the hall, so I took the only thing I could think to put up. I grabbed my student's writer's workshop folders and pulled from their writing. I had all different levels of writing from drawing, to labeling, to a one page story, and three pages stories. It was great listening to people comment on their work. I loved it!

So back to my original thought..... How often do you go through your teaching files and find activities that are no longer relevant to your current grade level?

I have a goal of going through ALL my files this summer and cleaning through stuff I want to hold onto but know that I can't use in my room anymore.

While at Walmart recently I scored this Dicecapades! game. Of course I could honestly care less about the game, but I am thrilled with the dice! Over 100 dice~ letter dice, dot dice, dice with 12 numbers, dice with 20 numbers, picture dice, and more! I can't wait to create some math stations to go with these dice. And the best part was it was on clearance.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teacher Evaluation

So last week, I had my final observation for the year. In TN, they have changed our observations and continue to change what they expect. I can't imagine being a principal and having to observe every teacher in the school multiple times a year. That goes along with my other post on Jobs I wouldn't want! Continuing on with the evaluation....

Monday I was excited to have found out I got 4's and 5's! We have a scale of 1-5. I of course scored myself lower, since in my 1st observation with my principal I was given all 3's. This is average and anyone would be happy with 3's for the 1st observation under this new system we have this year. My problem was that I scored 3's and was told that I needed to let other coworkers look at my lesson plans and help them. So I was irratated because if you score me average why are you asking me to help others!

My 2nd observation was with our assistant principal and I got 3's and 4's from him. It was a good observation becuase our asst. principal came from teaching HS Music and doesn't know very much about what we do in the lower grades, especially kindergarten;) So it's always nice when he gets to come in and see what goes on in my world.

Anyways..... I am thrilled to have gotten better throughout the year, at least that's what my paperwork says. It kills me how many teachers have gotten sick over our new evaluation system. I know at the beginning just hearing everything they were having to do with evaluations was overwhelming, but I have had the same though the entire time. Luckily I am fairly easy going and don't worry about much. My theory this whole time has been that if you are doing your JOB, you should score well, regardless of what the rubric says. I teach kindergarten and it would be impossible to get all the teaching points they want me to do in one lesson for my little ones. Therefore I do what I always do and whatever happens happens. My major thought process was that they CAN'T fire ALL of us! Yes, I know probably not the correct way to think about it but still, that's my opinion.

So anyone thoughts on how teachers get evaluated. Please share.

Monday, February 13, 2012

How'd you Meet your Hunny? Linky Party

I have joined Ms. B's not school related, but too cute linky party How'd You Meet Your Hunny?

Well I my story is rather unique and I am so happy to share with everyone. I was a Senior just graduated from HS in 2000 and our Senior Class trip was a cruise to the Bahamas. My bestie and I had decided to go and was thrilled about going on a cruise. We drove to Fort Lauderdale, FL in a 15 seater van with fellow classmates. Once there we stayed overnight in a hotel before boarding the ship the next morning. While at the hotel, I was introduced to Scottie. He was a friend of my bestie's boyfriend. A group from where they work in town had heard about our class trip to the Bahamas and had decided they would join us and we all could get cheaper rates. Six of them and 18 of us!

Well the next day we were on the cruise and talked a little, but once we got to the Bahamas, we really started talking more. We hit it off great! I assumed it was probably just a vacation deal, but was hopeful. After 6 days of beach fun, we had to go back home. We didn't see each other after we left the hotel back in Fort Lauderdale. I had the extremely long ride back to TN in the van full of people and he had a flight back home. I hoped we would be in contact once we were home, but didn't know. I thought about him alot. He had called his mom while at the hotel and told her he had met a girl and was bringing her home. Of course she went crazy then realized that I lived in the same town. Sadly we lived 5 minutes away from each other. We didn't know each other because he is 8 years older than I am.

A few days after getting home, he called and we hit it off right where we had left in the Bahamas. It was pretty mch love at first sight, we dated for a year and a half, got engaged at my parents house on Christmas in 2001. Was married in June 2002. He is my soul mate and I love him more and more every day. We have been blessed with two sweet girls Sydney (5) and Bree(1). I am so thankful I was able to go on my Senior Trip to the Bahamas and meet my Hubby! We will be celebrating our 10th anniversary this summer and I would love to go back;)

I hope you enjoyed my love story, please join the party and share yours.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Crazy Week

It was proabably my craziest week ever. Between the full moon, snow in the forecast, and just really needing to get away from each other, my kids were WILD this week.

Monday half my students had to clip down after library because when the librarian asked them to put there crayons away, push up their chairs, and line up they didn't! The flat out kept on working trying to finish. I HATE the fact that my students are in special classes for less than 25 min and the librarian and guidance counsler can not keep them entertained for that short of time which results in me getting handed 20 pieces of coloring sheets that are messy and don't have a name on it. I am sorry but paper is an issue for me and it KILLS me to pick them up twice a week and get handed coloring sheets. Really you can't involve them for 25 minutes without giving them a ditto sheet. Aaaaarrrrrrgh! I am never happy on Mondays and Thursday when I pick them up! Ok went off on that tangent now Focus!

Tuesday, I go to meet a bus driver to schedule a field trip and she is having a talk with the entire bus. I wait only to find out that 4 of our kinders are the last to get off the bus due to their bus behavior. I tell the driver that I will have a talk with the K students (we have 12 on this one bus) about how to act on the bus. I go back into school and put a note on the asst principal computer to call me ASAP. As soon as announcements are over, I get kinders that ride this bus into the hallway to discuss their bus behavior, and how they need to apologize to the driver this afternoon and when I check back with the driver I hope she tells me that the kinders are behaving better on the bus. The asst. principal calls wondering what I need and I ask that when he gets a chance I want him to talk to ALL kindergarten bus riders and refresh their memory about how they are suppose to act on the bus. He says he will this afternoon.

When I pick my kids up from the cafeteria to be told that I have 3 girls who will be getting assigned seats because they do not know how to behave in the cafeteria (oh wait this happened Monday) cause I put them in assigned seats today! Sorry right now my days are all confused.

After special classes, the asst principal pulls all k bus riders into my room and together we discuss bus behavior. I know it's hard for them to do what they should be when the older students are misbehaving, but still it frustrates me, cause I take care of the k bus riders making sure they are where they should be and I don't want them in trouble.

On Wednesday, my kids went to art and gym today, and as I am there to pick them up the Coach is fussing about the two classes, mine and another K class, behavior in gym. My thinking "really they are struggling today". We go back to class and discuss why we should be listening to ALL adult not just Mrs. Shelton!

Thursday, started off rough for me. As I am walking down the hallway to make a copy for something I need for class that morning I realize all the other K teachers have our recent winter animal research projects and either an art activity or writing samples up in the hallway. This is disturbing me due to the fact that our local school board is going to be in the building today, and I know for a fact will be down my hallway to see our early intervention classes. So I rush back to class, I grab the students writer's workshop folders and start pulling something from each student to quickly tape up in the hallway. Talk about true work samples! I am so happy I did, sure enough, we are in the middle of a heart activity where we discuss 1/2 in math, talk about feelings with the crease you put in a piece of paper to cut 1/2, and cut out the heart when in walks three board members. They just step in the room while I am showing students how to draw the line to cut to get a heart. After we cut the heart we take them back to carpet and discuss how when you say something negative it's like causing creases in that person's heart. And no matter how hard to say sorry and apologize, the crease never goes compeltely away. It was a very good lesson. The kids were wild and crazy like they had been all week, but nothing too bad.

So glad that Friday had finally made it. I expected to have a great day. I have 19 kinders now and had 4 out so a day working with 15 kids. I was very excited! Too bad there was snow in the forcast, because even though I had less kids I thought I fussed all day about something. At lunch I found out the asst principal got a note from a different bus driver about one of my kids bus behavior (Wait!!!! Really did we not just have that discussion two days ago!) I told the asst prinicpal I do believe I have fussed at my kids more this week than I have taught them:( WE did have a few very good points on Friday. I introduced a few new games, and while we were working in writer's workshop the teacher I share a bathroom with gave us a compliment on how quietly and on task we were working. I was super happy about that. She brought her kids over a table at a time to look at us working so well! I also had the sweetest parent. The school is selling candy grams for Valentine's Day and one of my parent's whose son has been out most of the week sick, stopped by to purchase a candy gram for every student in the class. He said he wanted it to be anonymous but that he was afraid some kids wouldn't get anything and didn't want that to happen. WOW! Don't you wish we still had more parents that cared like that. Needless to say that inspired me and hopefully next year when my daughter enters school, I want to do something similiar for her class. We ended Friday with our 3rd grade reading buddies and I had jazz music playing and everyone was reading and talking about the book, pretty good way to end such a roller coaster week.

Don't you love being a teacher and knowing when there is a full moon and snow in the forecast! In TN we have had an extremely mild winter with upper 50's in the past two weeks. They did call for an inch of snow this weekend, but I only got a dusting! Last year at this time we were already getting close to running out of our alotted 15 snow days. This year we have used 1! I know we get President's Day off next Monday, but the kids are crazy and acting like it's closer to Spring Break or the end of school. I promised my kids I would come in ready to go on Monday and that I hope they came in ready to learn. We will see how it goes.

I so wish we had year round. 9 weeks on 3 weeks off! I would love it! Does anyone go year round? What are your thoughts on year round school?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A job I wouldn't want!

Ok so, think about how rough your classroom is right now........... If it's anything like mine, the kids are CRAZY! Between the full moon and the unusually warm winter we are having, my kids have lost it! I try to remind myself that it HAS to be the moon and the weather because I know they know better than to act the way they have this week. Now as tough as it gets for me with my students, I can someway or other most of the time get them settled down. In special classes, on the bus, and in the cafeteria they are not under my specific control and are not listening to anything any other adult tells them. With that said..........


This morning I watch for Mrs. Cathy to pull in with her bus, so that I can go ask her to drive for our next Kindergarten field trip (to the local library for Dr. Seuss Day). I go outside in the cold and end up having to wait because she is fussing at all the kids on the bus. When she begins to open the door, big kids keep getting off. An occasional little kid and then the door shuts again. She talks to them, opens the door, lets two or three off and shuts the door again. This continues for three groups. The groups had my kinders involved. I have 12 kinders that ride this bus. Now if you know me, you know that I take alot of responsibilty making sure ALL kindergarten bus riders on where they should be. As some of my kiddos got off the bus they knew it would not be good when they arrived in class because Mrs. Shelton had seen them getting fussed at on the bus. Boy were they right! I finally am able to step on the bus and ask about the field trip. I proceeded to ask first, "Rough morning?" The driver then fills me in on what is going on. Now take in mind that this particular bus is FULL of students. The driver informs me that students are standing up, screaming, throwing paper, sticking arms, and trying to stick heads out the windows. I tell her that I will have a discussion with my all the kinders to refresh our minds on correct bus behavior. We finish talking and I go in, straight to my asst. principals office and leave a note on his computer stating, "Call me ASAP!" When school announcements are open, I call and get all kinders that ride this specific bus to meet me in the hallway outside my room. We discuss why they were in trouble on the bus and refreshed how they were suppose to act on the bus. At this point I seperate the students that were not on the bus this morning and the ones who got off with the big kids to the other side of the wall. I ask that they ALL apologize to the driver for their behavior and send those kinders back to class. I continue to talk to the ones who got in touble. After I finish talking to them I ask them to go clip down and that if they don't and I find out it would result in moving straight to red. I go back to get started. Shortly after returning to class, my phone rings. The asst. principal asks, "What is wrong?" I proceed to tell him and ask that he come down at some point before school is over to give ALL kinders a refresher on what they should be doing and not doing on the bus. He says he would do it.

Our asst. principal comes in and I send my car riders to my neighboring class and call for ALL kindergarten bus riders to come to my room for a pow-wow! Between myself and the asst. principal we remind them of why it is so important to sit and be quiet on the bus. I hope all of the negative bus behavior changes and quick!
At the end of the day when I saw the particular bus that had started all the problems today, I snuck around the corner to see if my kinders apologized as they got on the bus. I couldn't see if they did or not because the driver had moved to the back to assign seats(I am guessing on that part). The asst. principal was out with the bus and got on to talk to the students. I know I can't do much because it is a bus, but I will do my best to make sure the kinders do as they are told.

Now think about it. If my kids are crazy in my classroom, where I have only 5 and 6 year olds how bad can you imagine it is on a bus of k-8th graderes. I would not have the job of bus driver if it paid a million dollars. I can't think about how hard it would be to drive a bus and be responsible for all the students on that bus while driving and checking my mirror the whole time to make sure everyone was safe. I have always believed that certain people were made to deal with certain situations. I LOVE my job, but could not imagine or even want to imagine having to drive a bus with K-8th graders everyday!

Well, there is my rambling post. What are your thoughts on being a bus driver? I would not be one for anything!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I am joining Farley's Currently Linky Party again. I have to say this is probably my favorite linky party. I love reading what everyone is doing! I love the randon blank! So here is mine. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What a Week!

I am so glad to have made it through this past week. We had a field trip to ETSU Planetarium on Tuesday. The kids loved it. It was a very nice conclussion to space week we had studied the week before. I had my unannounced observation on Wed or Thursday, so I made sure I had everything ready to go for it. I was so glad that it was Groundhog's day cause I found so many neat ideas on blogs that I could use. Well, my principal didn't come on Wednesday, so I knew she would be there on Thursday. I was as ready as I could be. Thursday she came in at the conclusion of my 3D shapes introduction, I followed with a super cute Groundhog ebook, and then we went over what we had learned about groundhogs they day before. The students did great! I ended with getting everyone started in small groups! I think it went well, I will find out one day this coming week. So with my observation over my one objective on Friday was to get ALL of my DEA testing finished! We learned about shadows, which easily kept the students attention, and I had free choice stations all morning. I was able to get everyone present finished. For the most part they scored very well. So with that busy week behind me, let's get off here and plan for next week. I hope to do that while attempting to watch the Super Bowl, but more importantly the commercials. Let's go Giants!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Primary EXPO ticket Giveaway!

A Teacher's Treasure is giving away 3 tickets to the Primary Virtual EXPO where she will be presenting on Foldables. Head on over for your chance to win. I attended the Kindergarten EXPO and it was wonderful. So if you teach primary grades you will definately want to attend. And as a bonus you get a goodie bag full of activites!