Wednesday, June 27, 2012

so true...

I found this cartoon this morning and thought it was perfect!! It doesn't take long for my little ones to learn this about me. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wild about Writing Wednesday

This week I found a few tips to help me support my struggling writers- one is utilizing a "back and forth" notebook and the other is a two-word combination strategy. Both of these ideas can be found in the book Teaching Writing in Kindergarten by Randee Bergen.
"Back and Forth" Notebook
For your lowest students and those who you know can you get parent support at home for, you can use a back and forth notebook. In a "back and forth" notebook you and the parent make notes about the activities done with the student and how effective each one seemed to be. Spend a little time with the student on writing each day, try different strategies and activities, and then spend a few minutes writing about the activities and noting those that worked particularly well. Through your own notes you can model the kinds of notes you want the parent to write to you, as well as how to scaffold instruction, and your expectations for slowly making the work more challenging. A great way to start this notebook is with the kids in your class who are having a lot of trouble learning their letters and sounds. 
Two-Word Combination Strategy
For those students who need extra support to move from random letter spelling with no spacing to phonetically spelled words with spaces between them, try this quick one-on-one writing strategy. Have the student write two-word phrases or labels where the first word in one the student already knows (a word wall word that has already been introduced and that the child is familiar with) and the second word is a word they can phonetically sound out. For example: a man, the hat, my dog, etc. After deciding on a two-word phrase with the child, remind him or her that the first word is one he or she already knows and one that can be copied from the word wall. After several weeks of working with the same couple of word wall words, the child should become familiar with them and be able to write them without looking. Assist the child in remembering to put finger space between the words and segmenting the sounds. In the beginning the child may only be able to make out the beginning sound of the word and write the first letter. Work with the child where they are, but make sure they point to the words and read them back to you exactly as they wanted them written. For example: If they wanted to write "my cat" but wrote "my c" they would read it "my cat." Also be sure to guide the student so that your one-on-one work with this strategy transfers to their independent writing.  

Using Sign Language in Your Classroom

I recently learned about a series of books designed to introduce young children to sign language. The story behind the books is so inspiring and the books themselves are perfect for teaching little ones basic words in sign language that they can use in their everyday conversations.
Don McNamara was a grandfather looking for a way to communicate with his two granddaughters- 3-year-old Abby who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and 7-year-old Alyssa who has global developmental delays. While both girls can hear, Don was looking for a way to help both girls communicate with himself and others in a much richer way. To learn more about Don and the inspiring story behind his decision to write these books, click here

Don, known by most as Grandpa Don, has written 6 sign language books each with a different theme. In each book Abby and Alyssa describe and demonstrate each sign so that readers can learn to sign with them. The text and illustrations in the books are simple allowing young children to pick up the books on their own and learn the signs without any help from others. The themes help you connect the books and the signs into many units of your study.

You can learn more about Abby and Alyssa on their site Fun with Abby and Alyssa, on Facebook, and from PlayAbility Toys.

I am so excited because Grandpa Don has graciously agreed to give away a set of 6 Abby and Alyssa books to one lucky follower. All you have to do to enter is follow Chalk Talk, check out the site Fun with Abby and Alyssa, and like Abby and Alyssa on Facebook. Leave a comment or comments below letting me know what you did. Don't forget to leave your email address. The giveaway ends at midnight on Friday July 6th. Good luck!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Last Day to Vote!

Voting ends today, so if ya haven't had the chance to go to Really Good Stuff and vote yet, do so today. Thanks blogging friends and followers for all of you do for me. I truly love blogging and all of you who are in the blogging world with me. Vote for Chalk Talk or any of your other favorite blogs here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Word Family Work

This summer I am tutoring the sweetest little boy. I love the time I spend with him each week. This week I decided I wanted to start doing some word family work with him to help him in decoding words. I purchased a word family pack from First Grade Fanatics that I really liked so I wanted to share it with you.

Here are the things that I love about this word family pack...
1) It is hands on. There are picture cards and letter tiles for each word family so students can manipulate the letters in order to make the words. 
I kept the "a" and the "t" together the entire time to reinforce saying /at/ instead of /a/ and /t/. Then Jack and I took turns moving the letters around to change the beginning sounds. I had him move the letters and say the initial sound, /at/, and then the whole word blended together. For example- /b/ /at/ /bat/

2) The pack includes recording sheets for each word family which are great for word work with the Daily Five or for literacy stations. 

3) It includes funny word family stories that are great for reading together with the student or for highlighting words in. 
Jack and I read the story together. I read most of the text and he read all of the "at" family words. Afterward, I made "at" family words with the letter tiles, he read the word to me, and then highlighted in the text. 
The pack also includes recording sheets for each word family that go with finding words in the stories. 

3) You can easily differentiate with this pack. I offered more support by sticking to mostly three letter words.  There are tiles and blanks on the recording sheet that allow you to increase the difficulty of the words you are making, reading, and writing. I read the story with Jack and had him focus on the underlined words when looking for words to highlight. This narrowed down his word search a bit. You could have students read the entire story on their own, make their own words to find, or search for words throughout the entire text. 

I am looking forward to using these packs with my class as a whole group, in word work, and for small group intervention. 

You can find this pack and a few other word family packs from First Grade Fanatics here. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wild about Writing Wednesday

All of my work with teachers last spring helped me to see the strong need to learn more about teaching little ones to write. Teaching writing to young children is not a simple task and I decided that I wanted to READ, READ, READ and learn as much about it as I could this summer. I also decided I should share all of the great stuff I learn with all of you!! So here goes...

Every Wednesday this summer, I will make a post sharing a favorite tip, idea, lesson, or thought that I learned about writing during the week. Hopefully along the way you will find something that will help you grow your little ones into writers when we start back in the fall. 

In the past, I always thought students should not be expected to write much more than their name during those first few weeks of school. I thought since most of my students did not know their letters and sounds that I should wait on starting the writing process with them. 

While reading a chapter from Marvelous Minilessons for Teaching Beginning Writing, K-3 by Lori Jamison Rog, I learned this line of thought was WRONG!!
Lori recommends starting writing with your kindergartners on the FIRST day of school. Of course this does not mean you just hand out paper and pencils and tell the kids to "write." 

In her book, Lori has a specific mini-lesson for writing on the first day of kindergarten. Just like the Daily Five has you teach students 3 ways to read a book, Lori starts by having you explain to students that there are different kinds of writing that are acceptable in kindergarten. 

Start by choosing a topic for your writing. Model for students by thinking aloud how you chose your topic, why you drew what you did in your picture, and how you decided what to write to go with your sentence. (This is a process we are all very familiar with. We are probably not used to using it on the first day of school though.)

Think out loud about and model the different ways to write in kindergarten. 
curly writing- squiggles and curls
with some letters- random letters
book writing- the kind of writing other people can read

Before having students write independently, give them dry erase boards and markers and have them practice the different types of writing with you. 
Teach students the word "I." The topic that interests young writers most is usually themselves so "I" is a very important word to learn. Explain to students that "I" is a word in book writing. It looks the same for everyone. From then on, require your students to read and spell the word "I" correctly in all of their writing. 

Spend some time brainstorming writing topics as a group. Then as soon as each student can tell you what he or she is going to draw and write about, send them off with materials in hand. 
Happy Writing in Kinder!

Super Cute Pete the Cat Tee

I just found the shirt we all need! I was checking out Heather's Heart Pete the Cat Rocks Giveaway and I ran across it. It is a Pete the Cat tee and it is from Sewing Sassy.
You can check out all the goodies in Heather's giveaway here and purchase your own Pete the Cat shirt here!! Heather's giveaway ends tonight at midnight, so make sure you enter to win today. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"My Work Rocks" Box

I am always looking for fun inexpensive incentives I can use with my students. I just came across this one from Kindergarten Rocks! and wanted to share it. I like this idea because once you put it together, you can use it over and over again with little upkeep. The idea is a "My Work Rocks" box and you use it to encourage your little ones to produce quality. Head over to Kindergarten Rocks! to learn more. I am definitely trying this out with my kinder kids in the fall.

Monday, June 18, 2012

MPM School Supplies

I recently learned about the online teacher supply website This find could not have come at a better time since I was getting ready to stock up on glue, paint, and crayons. Over the years I have found it is so much easier to buy glue by the gallon and fill up my student's bottles when they are empty rather than ask them to bring in a new bottle. I also like to stock up on multicultural crayons for drawing people and paint is so expensive at teacher supply stores.
The site was so easy to navigate. The categories were well labeled and easy to locate. I found everything I was looking for from school supplies, to furniture, to teacher resources and I was extremely pleased with the prices. You can even search the site by grade level. Checkout was super easy and quick. My items shipped soon after I placed the order and I received all of my package within 3 business days!! 
When my order arrived, I was very pleased with the size of everything. There are times I have ordered things and thought I was getting a great deal until I received them in the mail and found out they were super tiny. Everything was just as I expected it. Yah!!
I am very happy with my shopping experience with MPM School Supplies and plan to order again from them in the future. If you are looking for school supplies or teacher resources for yourself, check out their online site here

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Really Good Education Blog Finalist: Vote Now!

I am excited to announce that I just found out that Chalk Talk has been nominated as one of Really Good Stuff's Really Good Education Blogs of 2012. Since I am headed back into the classroom and I have basically given away, sold, or thrown out most of my stuff, I would love a Really Good Stuff gift certificate. Help me out, by voting for Chalk Talk here! Thanks blogging friends!!

Teacher Autobiography Big Book

I just found a blog new to me and a post about creating a Teacher Autobiography Big Book. I love this idea. I can see my students wanting to read this book over and over. Visit Sarah at Yeehaw! Teaching in Texas to see all the pages and to read more about the book.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Printable Magazine Letters

I just found the coolest thing!! Printable magazine letters!! I usually avoid activities that involve cutting letters out of magazines because you end up with a huge mess and it takes forever for little ones to find the letters they need. Now I can avoid all of those problems with this $7 download from Etsy. This will be great for my word work station.

BooksmART Festival at the DMA

Yesterday was the BooksmART Festival at the Dallas Museum of Art. What a great end to hard week! I was in BOOK HEAVEN all day!!

The highlight of the day was meeting and talking with Jack Gantos, author of Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key and Dead End in Norvelt the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year's best contribution to children's literature and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.

I have shared before in a previous post how the book Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key changed my life as a teacher. This book holds more meaning for me than any other book I have ever read. Told from Joey's perspective, it completely changed the way I look at young children who have ADHD. Being able to share this with the author of the book and talk to him about where the inspiration to write about Joey came from was such an awesome experience. On top of that, he was a hilarious storyteller teller so he definitely did not disappoint! I laughed the entire hour I listened to him speak.

I love these autographs!

Other highlights of the day....

Stephanie and I

I taught Stephanie in kindergarten and she is now going into the FOURTH GRADE!! Stephanie and I share a great love for reading. She lets me share my "old fashioned" books with her and then we get to talk about them together. 

Eileen Christelow- the author of the Five Little Monkeys books

Eileen Christelow has a new book out- Five Little Monkeys Reading in Bed. Momma can't get the monkeys to go to sleep because they keep sneaking books into their bed and reading them. I LOVE it!! 

Brother and Sister Team: Jennifer and Matthew Holm of Babymouse fame

and last but not LEAST.... Taye Diggs and Shane Evans

Their book is called Chocolate Me! and its perfect for the start of the school year when we all do lessons on self, family, and friends. It is a great springboard for talking about the beauty of being different, the importance of being kind to one another, and for teaching children that we all have something special to share with the world. To learn more about the book, check out the Chocolate Me! Facebook page or the Chocolate Me! official website

I love the illustrations in this book! 
Shane Evans is an award winning illustrator. You can learn more about his work here

It was a GREAT day!! I had so much fun being surrounded by books, authors, and illustrators!! I can't wait for the new BooksmART season to start!! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Moving on.... and Looking Ahead to Next Year...

It has been a bittersweet last week of school for me. On the last day of school I found out very unexpectedly that my k-1 strategist position would not be funded again for next year. Then in the 24 hours that followed I was moved three different times. Needless to say with all of that change there has been a lot of crying in the last few days.

You all know that I LOVE teaching and I LOVE kindergarten so I am VERY EXCITED to say I will be going back into the classroom next year!! I am already thinking about the little ones who will be coming to me in August!! So.... onto next year!! Lindsey, Carina, and Nicole - I am looking forward to our year together. I know it is going to be great!

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Learning Tree 200 Follower Giveaway!

Kimberly from The Learning Tree is having a giant giveaway!! The greatest part about it is you get to pick the units you want!! Check it out here!! The giveaway ends Sunday night and winners will be announce Monday.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Booksource's Classroom Organizer

A huge thank you to Mrs. Larremore for allowing me to guest post today!

If you are anything like me, then you have an enormous collection of children's books and that means your classroom library is probably massive. Organizing your classroom library can be a daunting task. I've done it several different ways in the past and have finally managed to get a system in place that works really well for me. Plus I have stumbled upon a new tool for keeping it super, duper organized.

The first step is to choose how you'd like your books to be organized. Mine are organized by themes, favorite authors, and any that didn't have a place in a theme basket or author basket were organized by genre. I also have my books that I use for guided reading organized by levels. After you've decided how you'd like your books to be organized, go through and sort them accordingly. That was the most time consuming part for me but so worth it. Once I got my books sorted, I placed them in baskets with labels.

I use the baskets above due to cost. I found mine at Dollar General and they came in a pack of 3 for around $1.50. Since I have around 50 baskets in my classroom library it was the most economical choice for me. You can see that I also have small sticker labels on my books that match the picture on the book basket label. That makes it easy for students to put books back where they belong.

Recently I came across a FREE classroom library organizational tool that helps me manage my classroom library, Booksource's Classroom Organizer. It's wonderful for creating a database for the books in your classroom library and managing checkout if you allow student's to take home books from your classroom. I haven't used the checkout feature yet but plan to use it with my Take Home Reading program next year. I'm in love with the Classroom Organizer's free iphone App. I'm pretty sure they have an Android App too. Once you have the App, you can pull a basket, scan the ISBN on the back of the books, and save it's location to that basket. Even if you don't have a phone that's compatible with the App, you can add your books to your library on the website. You just type in the ISBN from the back of each book. Getting all of your books added, either through scanning or manually entering the ISBN, takes awhile but having the database at my fingertips is wonderful. After entering the books, you can go in on the website and manage your library and get a list and with one click, you can export all of the data into an Excel spreadsheet.

My settings are set to allow me to see the book's location, Guided Reading level, and AR level. You can set yours to work in the way that's most productive for you. I am in no way affiliated with this website but thought other teachers may find this helpful for managing their classroom libraries like I have. Hope it helps some of you out.

And finally, I have a {FREEBIE} that may help you get started organizing your classroom library.  Just click here to grab it. 

Thanks again to Mrs. Larremore for having me over today. I hope you'll come visit me at The Kindergarten Center.

The Kindergarten Center

The Clever School Teacher Giveaway Winner

Congratulations JoAnna!! You are the winner of the Clever School Teacher Giveaway!! Your gift certificate is on its way through email!! Thanks again to all of you who entered. I hope you find the site valuable and purchase lots of great books from it during the next school year. Thanks also to Deedee for graciously donating the gift certificate for the giveaway.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Make a Difference Monday- Fairness

In April, I linked up with Maria Dismondy to share ideas for teaching about empathy. In May, we linked up again to provide ideas for teaching respect and now it is time for us to link up once again. This time to share ideas for teaching about fairness. Be sure to check out Maria's post to see how Ernie and Cookie Monster learn a lesson in fairness.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal's books are some of my favorites and It's Not Fair! is no exception.
It's Not Fair! rolls through a list of complaints about perceived slights to more common gripes such as he got the bigger cookie to out and out silly ones like when the stool complains that the chair got an extra leg. Through it all your students will get the idea that fairness is a matter of perspective. Following a reading of the book, have students talk about times that are really unfair and how they handle them and move on. Guide students to gain the understanding that sometimes life is unfair and we have to find a way to deal with it and other times we are just complaining  like when the pig, in the book, wants wings.

Be sure to follow Maria's Pinterest board Make a Difference Mondays- Teaching Character for a list of picture books you can use to teach your students character traits. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Word Wall Magnets

Since so  many of us are already thinking about when we come back in the fall (lol) .... Here is a great idea for helping parents remember to practice spelling and reading word wall words with their kids.

Word Wall Magnets from Vista Print
I pinned this idea from Tristine Range on Pinterest.