Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday- This is Not My Hat

I'm linking up with Mrs. Jump's Class this warm Tuesday morning!

We found this book at Barnes and Noble last winter and my son loved it.  The main character, a little fish, is convinced that a big fish will not notice that he took his hat...after all it is perfect for him :)  The illustrations are great in this book and add to the story. 

The little fish has great reasoning skills...but no matter what reasoning you have, is it ever ok to take something that doesn't belong to you?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Made it Monday: Binders for School and Vacation Plans

  I knew I needed to clean out my binders and make some changes for the 2014-15 school year.
Look at this mess!!!!  Our building is closed for the summer (cleaning and NO air conditioning).  I happened to drive by last week, and the front door was open.  I begged and begged, and  I was able to run into the building and clean out my file cabinet.

This is six years worth of crap files!  A BIG MESS!!! I recently read A Teeny Tiny Teacher's blog about organizing binders and I took the PLUNGE!    I took everything home and began sorting.  My goal was to have mostly binders.  I still have a few file folders, but they are just for random things that are important enough to save, but don't fit in any of my categories.

These are my binders (not all are pictured, because I need more binders).

My binder categories are:
Guided Reading
Phonemic Awareness
School Improvement
Progress Monitoring
Letters and Sounds
Literacy Work Stations

I just laid out all the binders.  If I didn't have a binder, I made a piece of paper with the title.  Then I started sorting. This was early, early in the process.  My living room floor was completely covered in papers.  I also was able to go through my files and I had quite a few duplicates and quite a few things that just needed to go to recycling ASAP!

Once I sorted, then I began putting documents in page protectors.

Since I did all this work on my binders, I felt like I should keep the same system electronically.  My files are all in folders that match the same title as my binders!  I love it :)

This didn't take as long as I thought.  Now my binders match my electronic file folders and life is organized!

I finally got everything planned for our road trip!  I cannot wait.  I'm such a nerd.  In PowerPoint, I made slides and then saved them as a PDF.  I have all the information and addresses about every place we plan to visit :)  Here are a couple of slides. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Writing to Improve Phonics Skills

I went to an amazing professional development this summer on incorporating phonics into guided reading, and I've been practicing what I learned with my son.  I will say that the presenter discussed having a Reading Recovery background.  I'm not trained in Reading Recovery, so I don't know if this is something that is typically done during a Reading Recovery lesson. 

*Disclaimer...when you do this, you want the students to apply what they've been learning in the classroom and give them an opportunity to talk about the strategies they are using while writing.  The goal is to help students connect the phonics skills they are applying in reading with their writing. You don't want to tell them to "see if you can find that word on the word wall"  or "let's look back in the book."  There is nothing wrong with that...in fact that's what I encourage students to do during workstations and writing time.  The goal of this is for them to process what they are learning and then apply it through writing.

This is definitely teacher guided.  There is lots of scaffolding that occurs so students can think about what they have learned and how to apply it in their writing.  If students haven't been taught the skills, then they can't be expected to apply them...so this really only works with words that they should know. 

Background...my son's reading ability is FAR beyond his writing ability. 

1.  Students always have a page to write on (right side) and a page to practice (left side). 

2.  Students write a sentence or two about what they just read.  When they get to a word that is "tricky" they can either try and write it or practice it first (on their practice page).  My son is now doing that on his own without even being prompted!

3. This is what a conversation looks like.  You'll guide them when they get to "tricky" words.  My son spelled 'party' as 'parde.' 
Me:  Does that look right?
Son:  No...I'm going to try the practice page.
Son:  I know it is PAR. 
Me:  Listen to me say it...PAR TEEE
Son: Oh, T!!!! PARTE.
Me: Does that look right?
Son:  No...the E isn't right.
Me:  Remember, words that usually end in 'e' are silent.  What are other ways that words end that sound like 'e'.
Son:  Y
Me: Let's try that.
Son: PARTY.  That looks right!

This is an incredible piece of data to have to show student's growth.   I love the fact that students have a place to practice and process their thinking.  Now, my son automatically goes to the practice page and thinks about how words are spelled.  Before he would write anything down!!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five for Friday: I Gave Away My Pants

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday :)
1.  I've been cleaning and organizing like crazy (closets, file cabinets, everything)!  Last year they changed our dress code, and I had to buy some new pants and FAST.   I hated wearing them all last winter (they were warm).  I thought they were "frumpy."    So I gave them away (all of them)!   No more frumpy pants for me!  I tend to be practical, and as long as they were in my closet, I would continue to wear them.  I figured the only way to not wear them was to donate them.  Now I'm going to be more careful when I pick out pants!!! I have 1 pair of pants that I like (that are not jeans), and I have lots of dresses.  I will survive ...just not in frumpy pants :)

2.  Vera Bradley just released their new patterns.  MUST.TRY.TO.RESIST!
3.  It has been cold here!!!  No swimming for us this week...instead we saw Rio 2 at the $1.00 movie theater :) 

4.  I'm still not in "back-to-school" mode! However, I happened to be about 1 mile from school (which never happens in the summer), so I stopped by and the building was open...well kind of.  Anyways, I nicely begged to run to my room, grab some stuff, and leave quickly.  Operation "organize my files" has begun!!! I'm happier organizing at home :)  These binders were pretty reasonably priced on Amazon!

5.  I just finished Where'd You Go Bernadette!!  I'm so glad my librarian friend recommended it!  Bernadette is very unique and lives a unique life!!!  The characters are quirky, opinionated, and not to mention catty!!!!  It has lots of lessons and themes.  I've probably way over analyzed the book, but it's fun for me to get totally lost in a book, and this one was perfect!!! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back To School: 10 Cent Folders for Guided Reading

I've had a couple people ask me how I use folders for guided reading.  I always stock up on the two pocket folders when they go on sale for 10 cents.  In fact, I make my whole family buy them!!  I use them for intervention groups...but they can also be used for guided reading.  Since we have fluid groups, I sometimes go through LOTS of folders.

On the first day, I always ask the students, what their favorite book is, and that night, I print out everyone's covers.  The next day, their favorite cover is placed on the folder.  It is so important for students to see themselves as readers.  They love this activity.  Sometimes I have to give them some suggestions, but they get so excited with their folder.

Depending on the grade level, depends what we put in the folders.

For kindergarten, I use the Kindergarten Helper by Michelle Oakes, the current story we are reading, and sight word cards.  These are sight words that are individualized for each student, based upon their needs and the story we are reading.  I just use index cards for the sight word cards.

For first and second grade, I'll sometimes use the Kindergarten Helper, but as they advance in guided reading level, I begin to include a fluency passage.  This one is from Reading A to Z.  Sometimes I'll use a poem :)  These students also have sight word bags. Their words are based on each student's running records.  Any words that were challenging go into their sight word bag.

I don't spend TONS of time using their sight word cards...Sometimes, if I'm taking a running record, I'll have students go through their sight words before they reread a familiar story.  While we are reading, students will use highlighting tape, and they will highlight the words when they find them in their books.  Other times, at the end of our time, I'll have students write a sentence with their word on their slate, and then share it with a partner.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Made it Monday: Home Remodel and Organizing Memories

This project was fun and saved a TON of money.  We are remodeling our house and I really liked our hardware in the bathroom, except that it was from 1986!  I bought some metal primer and brushed nickel spray paint. 
 I bought the supplies at Lowes.  First, I sanded the handles with 220 fine sand paper.  Then I added a coat of primer.  Once that dried, I used 2-3 coats of the brushed silver spray paint. Finally, when that  dried, I used a clear coat finish to protect it.  I'm happy I reused what I had for the bathrooms.  I love the way it came out :) 
One of my goals has been to organize my children's "memories."  I don't save everything...maybe 3-4 things a month (but that adds up)!  While I was working on my doctorate, everything was just stuck in an under-the-bed-rubbermade-tub!
I've looked at all sorts of "systems" and I really liked the binders.  I just used binders and page protectors.   I did them two years at a time.  My children have been helping me fill their binders.  We aren't done, yet!  This has been our "rainy day" or "too cool for the pool" project.  However, we are in a drought, so this project may take longer than I thought to complete!

The goal is to have the tub under the bed store memories like special tshirts and things that are too big for the binder.  The picture below is from my son...it is way too cute to not save, and it can't fit in the binder.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ideas for Decodables

This is another blog posting, that I started during the school year, but never had time to complete.  First of all, I must say that everything I've ever been taught in any college class or reading trainings really disapproves of decodable.

HOWEVER, for struggling readers when they are learning phonics skills, they need the opportunity to apply what they are learning and a decodable text works great. 

In Kindergarten, we have 30 minutes of intervention/enrichment.  In one of the rooms, we are using decodable books at one rotation (each rotation is 10 minutes).  This block of time is in addition to guided reading.  In guided reading they are reading leveled text.

Day 1:  Introduce the decodable words and high frequency words.  For Kip the Ant, the decodable words are: ant     can     Kip     hit     dig     pat     tap    nap
The high frequency words are: the    what   do   go

Students read the book w/support from the teacher.
Students write their favorite sentence from the book and read it to their partner.

This way, students get to practice reading and writing :)

Day 2:  Students read the book.  Focus on the decodable words.  Using dry erase boards, have students write down a word like nap.  Then have them erase the /n/ and replace it with a /t/.  Ask students what word they made.  This can be repeated with the other decodable words.

Day 3:  Students read the book.  Focus on the high frequency words.  Students can write the high frequency words and take turns using them in sentences. 

Day 4:  Students cut apart sentences and put them back together.  Students are able to take their book home :)