Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Polar Bear Sneak Peak Supplemental Activities

My winter break is almost over, we go back on Monday for professional development but our student's don't start till the 8th. When do you all go back? What will yo be teaching, practicing, or reviewing? What are your student's expected to "know" by now or this time of year?

Once I get back, we will be doing our backwards planning for the first 3 weeks of our 3rd quarter for the year to include CFA's. Report cards are also due (and I haven't transferred our grades... waahhh) I guess you can say I'm enjoying the winter break with my family and working on some activities for my students, that will reinforce number sense skills.
 I will be focusing on students counting up to 50 (K.CC.1 up to 100) with a deep understanding of before, after, and missing numbers up to 30. I know kindergarten standards only call for up to 20, but I like teaching to the top 25% of my class and scaffolding or differentiating for the rest. I think it's easier bringing up those low kids, than having the high ones "bored or restless." This keeps my class one happy classroom easy to manage (did I mention I'm also full inclusion kindergarten classroom).

We will also take a deep dive into "how many?" and comparing numbers and quantities... hence Number Sense :0 this is so far what some of my supplemental activities will look like! I will be giving away a copy(ies) or perhaps make it a flash freebie on my TPT store! Stay Tuned!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fourteen in '14 Linky Party

2014 is coming to an end in just a couple of days! That's only 3 days away to be exact! (or like my husband just mumbled "why are you stating the obvious?) Because I'm blogging my year in review, that's why!! Cheers to a Happy New Year an to this Linky Party hosted by:

My Favorite quote of all time is
 "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
 By Eleanor Roosevelt
LEGGINGS with Layered tops and boots!

The ending was PERFECT!!

I honestly can't live without 4 shows! I DVR every single one of them 
(and if I have to stay up late on Sunday night, I will, story of my life) 

I Love their Menudo!

Yoga!! I'm a wanna be yogi! But seriously where has Yoga been all my life?
I love the practice, the benefits, the downtime, and the time to reflect and let go!

My hubby spoiled me with an iMac this summer.... 

Still not a big pinner on pinterest! :( But getting there!

My interactive journal blog post just last week. It has over 500 views from all over the world in just one week (even views from Saudi Arabia!) 

I became a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers and a blogger. 

Do I really have to pick just one??

 My sisters... they are true best friends!

I love horseback riding with my hubby.
Submit and score high on the first two components on my quest of achieving National Board Certification!


The joy of the Lord is my Strength!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Using Interactive Journals

I recently read a post on Facebook about what and how do you use interactive journals or if they were just a waste of time in a kindergarten classroom? In a previews post, I talk about how to make an interactive journal for kindergartners, you can click here to read that post. So what are they and how do they work? These are my thoughts, opinions, and reasons,

First of all the main purpose/reason I use interactive journals in kindergarten is to help my students practice, review, and remember concepts and skills we are learning about. This is the primary reason I divide a notebook into sections and color code each section to make students aware of their learning. This makes it easier for students to use, understand, and engage in their learning or "I can statements..." These statements are aligned to common core standards. For example the ELA notebook sections range from foundational skills to writing, and language standards. Then within that section they do and complete activities aligned to that specific set of standards.
At the very beginning of the year students and parents together make one for Language Arts and one for Math. They personalize it, then I have parents "explain" to their child what each notebook is for (after I explain to the parents, what I'm explaining to you in this post.) When we actually start using them, I ask my students, "do you remember the notebooks you made with your mommy or daddy? Guess what! We get to use them today!"
I explain which one they will use and why they are using that one. We end up calling them our "handy dandy notebooks." I also do this to teach kids organizations skills and also to differentiate for math and reading. I want them to know and understand when we are learning about math concepts or reading concepts; my reasoning for not using just one for everything. I purposely have parents help set them up because it is also an opportunity for parents to be informed about the standards and skills that students need to master by the end of the kindergarten.
  Our activities range from cutting, pasting, matching to writing, synthesizing, and creating. The possibilities are endless. I want to enable students to use them "interactively" meaning if they can go back and reuse them to help them with another assignment they can! At other times, it's just simply amazing when they flip through their pages and they began to talk about a previous activity and what it "means" or what it was "for." Hearing students take ownership or be engaged in any activity is every teachers dream come true!

Above all, my favorite use for them... they are an easy tool for formative assessments and to show parents their child's progress through out the year! They are so "interactive" my kids love them and so do I. Interestingly enough as write this post I found this research based supporting article on the use of interactive journals in the classroom! Still curious and not sure about interactive journals? Read along some more.

Supports my own theory, reason, and purpose on how and why to use them and how to set them up!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Black Bears, New Mexico, & Kindergarten

I've been off for exactly a month but that's because my students and I have been crazy at school, having fun and READING!! My little kindergartener's are reading :) and somewhat writing and coming along in their academics. I just love watching those little eyes grow when they hear themselves read or "sound out" a word and READ it... best part for me as a teacher!!! If I could add a bunch of Emoji happy faces with heart eyes here I would!!! lol!

This past month we did a thematic unit on our state (New Mexico and Our State Animal: Black Bear) which lent itself to a whole STEM, Social Studies, Reading & Math Common Core Aligned Lesson and I'm sharing it with you all today!

We started off by learning about New Mexico, our State Flag, and the Zia Symbol.
This link (see below)  has so many resources it was wonderful! Did you know New Mexico even has a State Dinosaur?? We didn't!!

New Mexico

This is what our final Project looks like! The students worked together to create/make the habitat for the black bear, New Mexico's State animal!

During this project we also addressed common core standards like rhyming. Student's used their interactive journals to make "Rhyming Dens."

We played a counting on game, using "bear dens" And sang "we are going on a bear hunt, we're going to catch a number, we can't go over it, can't go under it, we must go in it!" Then they caught the number and counted on from that number! 

Lets not forget to how to write, count, and compare!

Plus other writing projects! Hope you liked reading along, just as much as I enjoyed sharing! 
You can actually purchase this whole unit at my TPT store and try it in your own classroom, it has so much more to offer and it's all common core aligned! Download it and leave some feedback! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Teaching Letters & Sounds (small group instruction)

Thinking about my first year in a kindergarten classroom is kind of embarrassing. While I was excited about teaching and landing my first job and having my own classroom, I realized I was clueless about teaching kids how to read. I seriously thought my college classes had prepared me for that part of instruction, I mean they told us about running records, reading levels.... for actual readers, but what about Kinders who come in with a clean slate??!!! I mean seriously, education is literally trial and error, you either hit or miss, and when you miss, you better have plan B, C, D, E, F, G etc....  ready to go! I remember going to veteran teachers and asking for help, going on line and googling "how to teach kids how to read" and at the end of the day I still felt so empty handed. Even at our team meetings and planning, I just felt like what I was learning and planning didn't coincide with the foundations student's needed to become emergent readers, something was missing.
One of those weary days I decided to ask our Speech Pathologist for advice. She would come in twice a week and work with several of my students and on one of those days, I built up the courage (she just seemed unapproachable "older" and always on the run ) to ask her what her idea of teaching kids how to read was! Oh my... it was the best day ever (I can still hear angelical choir, voices, and trumpets in the back of my mind) as I was Enlightened on what students needed at that age in order to develop those reading foundational skills: Phonics, Phonemic and Phonological Awareness Skills!!!!!  Let me just add, that she is still working at my school and I LOVE HER TO DEATH, I call her my phonemic awareness Guru! Whenever I need help with anything I go to her first! Anyhow, all along I had been playing, singing, and drilling kids on PHONICS.... PHONICS....PHONICS... and then expecting them to read, boy was I misinformed! That night, I remember trying to remember everything she had told me because what she was saying and telling me JUST MADE SENSE!!! So, for the next month or so I decided I would become an expert on what phonemic and phonological awareness is and was, I researched it, and planned everything along Phonemic and Phonological Awareness, IT MADE THE DIFFERENCE!!

Taaaadaaaa! Here I am today sharing what small group instruction looks like in my classroom. By the end of the year 100% of my kindergartners CAN READ and WRITE, no joke! I previously blogged about what my morning looks like and what the rest of the class is doing, while I teach kids phonemic and phonological awareness skills, to read about it and see pictures click here.  

Part one of Four. This is what beginning of year looks like. In December I will post part two, so you can see and read the difference.

When students come to my table, I have everything ready to go. I set the purpose for the lesson by telling them exactly what we will be learning about. Then I ask them, "what are you going to learn today?" and wait for their response.

1. Letter Matching Activity (5 minutes) Example: 

Teacher: Hi boys and girls, today we will learn about letter names and letter sounds, what will we learn about? (wait for student response)
Teacher: Great! First, we will match the letters in our cups to our chart and say the letter name, what will we do with the letters in our cup? (wait for student response)
Teacher: Ok, here we go, I have a teacher set of EVERYTHING they have so I can model, model, model. (Some may need more modeling than others, depending on their level)

At the very beginning of the year, I give everyone all the letters of the alphabet, just to see how many can actually match "all of them" once I see who can and who can't, I group them by ability level. Then I select 5-7 letters weekly that they don't know, place them in a cup, and work with those same letters all week. I always select the letters in their name first, so they can make a "personal connection!"  It's lovely to hear them say, "that letter in my name!" then I respond, "wow, you are learning to read the letters in your name!" So we do this quickly for 5 minutes, during that time, I facilitate, prompt and guide more than "tell or correct." For lower kids, who absolutely do not know any letters, I pull out a letter, say the name of the letter, then they look for it in their cup, say the name, then match it.

2. Write and Produce Primary Consonant Sounds Activity (4 minutes)Example:

Next, fast, fast, as a snap, we put our letters back in our cups or bags, I pass out their sand trays, and they watch as I have my cup with the selected letters. They don't use the letters here, I do.  I show it to them, they say the letter name, write it and underline the letter from left to write, saying the sound the letter makes. 
For Students who already know all their letter names and letter sounds, I say the sound (don't show the letter) and they write Uppercase and lowercase and say "uppercase M lower case m" while they write and I watch for correct letter formation (I correct letter formation here)...  Then say Mm says /m/ while underlining from left to right. 

Look closely and you can see my notebook, where I write down student observations.
 3. Initial/First Sound Activity (3 minutes) Example:

Once again I pick up sand trays, put them away, and pull out picture cards. I again set the purpose: Now, we will be listening for the first sound you hear in a word, words have sounds, those sounds are the sounds letters make. I then show them a picture card, name the picture and tell them, listen to me say the first sound in a word. 
Ex: picture of a Carrot.
I hold it up, this is a carrot, carrot begins with /c/, what does carrot begin with? They reply /c/
Ok! Let's try some more.
For students that have difficulty understanding the concept, I will use our alphabet chart with pictures and go down the chart saying, "A is for /a/ /a/ apple, B is for /b/ /b/ ball." I also have hand signals for each letter sound. Students associate the hand signal with the sound, so they get a visual and auditory cue. As they master the art of listening for initial sounds we do initial sound picture sorts. Like the following example.

4. Wrap up our mini small group lesson (3 minutes) double check for understanding and rotate! 
The third activity alternates between rhyming, syllables, initial sounds, onset-rimes, spatial concepts, and blending and segmenting as student needs arise. There are weeks, where my third activity is completely different for all 5 groups, because they are not all at the same level. I'm either challenging the ones who need the challenge or scaffolding for the ones who need repetition.

Hope this makes sense! Click here to download the free lesson plan and alphabet checklist!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Phonics, Rhymes, & Sounds

I can't believe I have time to blog during the week! Well the TRUTH is, my hubby and kids are watching the Bronco, Chargers #football game.... (hip-hip-hooray! Yeah, Go Chargers!) And GUESS WHAT??? I'm not your biggest football fan, I'd rather be doing other stuff... like blogging or anything but sit there and watch a game.... bleh! Great opportunity or excuse for me to be in front of the computer blogging away (now this is HIP-HIP-HOORAY!! for me!! Yeah, Go Blogging!!!).

So tonight I want to give you a view of what my morning routine looks like in my classroom and share some ideas about our center routines with you. First, I'm a firm believer that every student/child, needs a strong foundation in phonemic and phonological awareness. These foundations and skills give all students the strategies necessary to decode, chunk, segment, blend, isolate, and discriminate sounds and text during reading and eventually become great readers. Comprehension and fluency strategies are secondary to these skills and are usually developed by the end of first grade beginning of second grade, although it is possible by the end of kindergarten.

We begin our "Letter of the Week" centers every morning at 8:15 and run to 9:50. The first 6 weeks of school, I front load the students with all of the alphabet all at once and they do tub and play activities to get them used to or routines and procedures and get us ready for learning. These centers usually revolve around, letter matching on alphabet charts, tracing and cutting practice, coloring (a lot of coloring), puzzles, and abcmouce.com on the computers.
During this time I also begin to introducing more specific skill aligned centers that revolve around phonemic and phonological awareness, by the 7th - 9th week of school we are working independently and with some guidance.

I have 5 center rotations that are 12 minutes long and I'm included in that rotation. I introduce the centers whole group on the carpet by telling the students "Today we will learn about letters. Letters have to important parts that we need to know and understand in order to become good readers and writers. They are letter names and letter sounds."
We then sing 3 different alphabet songs, then I model and explain what their centers will be and look like. And here they go:

1. Letter Concept Map     

This center revolves around initial sounds concept maps. Remember how the first 6 weeks of school I have tub/play centers? Well, during that time for a whole week, I do mini lessons on what the "independent" centers will eventually become. I teach, model, explain, scaffold, and then release them for practice and set clear expectations on how and what they are suppose to look like to work independently. A total of 5 centers that rotate every 10- 12 minutes. As they get used to them, I extend the time to a max of 18 - 20 minute rotations by the end of the year. 

2. Interactive Journal Letter Matching
Once again for a whole week, I work with them at this center. I teach them how to take out and put away their interactive journals. How to take turns taking them out and putting them away. How we actually use them, what the sections are for, and how we find the "next clean page." We color things that are not suppose to be cut off in RED, because RED means STOP, and they have a visual cue for it. Then we trace all the areas we are suppose to cut around and over in GREEN because GREEN means Go. Other wise kids will cut around every black line they see ( I learned the hard way.) To learn more about my interactive journals click HERE. 

3. Letter Sorting and Tracing 

This one is a student favorite! Students pretty much lead this one on their own and help each other out. They work in pairs or as group and teach each other letter names and letter sounds. I have 6 different letter sorting mats for uppercase and lowercase letters. I intentionally group students heterogeneously, high, lows, and mid's together for this sole reason. Student Collaboration at its best. This center eventually will become a build cvc words center.



Another student favorite and teacher favorite. This educational website is free for TEACHERS, and has tons of activities that re-enforce phonemic and phonological awareness skills, sight words, reading, number sense, shapes, science, social studies, and printables, you name it, it's there.  Not to mention the mouse tutor it has. It literally teaches your child how to use a mouse and computer! This website HAS IT ALL!! If you want to set up your classroom click HERE.  Because it has so many resources, I can actually create lessons, that go right in line with what I'm teaching in class. Once again for a whole week, I spend my time at this center, showing and teaching students how to find their Avatar, how  to "change user" and how to find their lessons. It is so WONDERFUL, I can  EVEN DIFFERENTIATE activities based on STUDENT NEED!!

5. Small Group Instruction

Finally me, During this time I do "RTI" or Conceptual Refinement. For 10 -12 minutes, I give students direct instruction on a daily basis. This is the time where I scaffold, differentiate (at the content level,) assess, teach, challenge, and get a real picture of where they are at. I get to know them, know and understand their needs, and what I need to do different. This is also the place where we learn all about rhyming, syllables, ISF, FSF, MSF, on-set rimes... Next week I will be devoting a whole blog post just to this part. I will include a lesson plan, sample activities, and "how to list" Here is a sneak peak...  

Good night everyone! Leave a comment or question below! :) 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fall Break is Here and Bats are REAL!

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons along with Spring! I love the smell of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin lingering and flowing through my kitchen air. Not to mention the leaves falling and the beautiful fall colors (I can see on Instagram posts from other states.) I live in the beautiful Chihuahuan Desert so it's rare to see full fall colors in effect, at the most we get yellow and orange. 
And now, Fall Break! I'm enjoying a whole 5 days off from school, students, administrators, and teachers! I was sure ready for this break and enjoying every single second :). Do you have a fall break?
My students and I kicked off Fall Break with Deanna Jump's Non-Fiction Unit on Bats. As usual and always so much fun with her stuff! I have to say my favorite part of this unit is when students discover bats aren't vampires, they are real, and they don't suck your blood! It's a perfect way to introduce the word "misconceptions" they just "click and get it." After our unit is complete, every single one of my students can explain why bats are indeed real, why they are not vampires, and can make a bat using shapes around us. Have a great long weekend y'all and here are some batty over bats pictures from our lesson!

On day one we make our KWL chart and add stick notes to the "what I learned section" every day. As we learn and discover that bats are real, we recognize and clear up any misconceptions and remove them from "what I know" to our misconceptions section. P.S. I let the students make those connections on their own, when we review, what  we know about bats, and what we have learned.
On day two we label our bat diagram and  talk about a bat's body parts.  We also discover that bat's are really brown not black, they have hair and are mammals.

Day 3 we make our bats during math. We compose bat body shapes from squares and rectangles.  And discuss how we can make shapes from other shapes.

We also gather all of our batty facts on a bat concept map and write a short paragraph together. I lead the discussion by guiding students to use bat facts in complete sentences, then I write them down.