Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Love of Reading!

I was in the midst of a completely different kind of blog post when I encountered something that prompted me to put THIS post together!  This post is not about my coolest new freebie or a hot new packet you must get your hands on.  This post is from my heart...or over-rated as it might be, this post is about something that is near and dear to me....reading!  

I find it perfect timing as we prepare for our the upcoming year...that we take a minute to understand what our job is as educations..and just as importantly take time to appreciate the difference we DO make!  First off...I want to talk about our job as educators.  No, am not going to talk about how you should run your classroom or how many minutes you should spend teaching math everyday.  Moreover, I want to talk about our job to teach children the love of reading! 

It never fails that I hear my little Kindergarteners say, "But, Mrs. West I don't know how to read!"  Well, when I hear that the first thing I want to do is shed a little tear...but I quickly snap out of it and respond with a, "Of course you know how to read Johnny"...and I give them a quick example of they can read.  Johnny might not be reading on a first grade level or know all of the 40 sight words, but Johnny can none the less read!

So, one of my first jobs as an educator is to teach my young learners what it means to read!  After they realize that yes they CAN read they will be so inspired!  We will read repetitious poems and songs, meet at the carpet to read easy readers as a group, or meet back at the table work on our one to one tracking skills saying animal picture names.

When you look at the definition above of reading you will notice the usual...letters and words, but look "symbols" is listed and even more "etc."  Don't worry Johnny an "etc." can be pointing to the alphabet carpet and stating all of the animals.  You CAN read! So, I challenge you...right after you teach your new crew how to sit criss-cross-applesauce  and how to line up...teach them the love for reading!  Teach them YOUR love for reading along side teaching them that reading is more than reading a chapter book!

Next, I wanted to share my appreciation for what you do!  Together we are an army...we are protecting, caring for, teaching, and making a DIFFERENCE!  In the hustle and bustle of back to school season don't forget why you do this...your love for children and your desire to be a life changer...that's you- -changing the world one little kiddo at a time!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Freebie Kindergarten Weekly Poems

This year my kiddos will be introduced to one new poem/nursery rhyme each week!  I am SO excited about this!  The poems are all aligned each week to my close read curriculum map for this upcoming year!  You can view the map HERE.  It might be that I have not done true "themes" before, but I am so pumped to have our days flow in way that makes sense!  So many curriculums jump around and leave the kids dazed and confused...why sure we will talk about snow in August ;) Okay, maybe it's not THAT bad, but nothing is better than teacher created!

Once you get to the download below you will find a detailed pacing list for the poems.  There are 37 to choose from so feel free to switch them around to best fit YOUR classroom needs! I will introduce a new poem each Monday during morning meeting.  We will then review the poem each day for that week during our morning meets.  Then, we will move on to a new poem the following week.

 I will be displaying my poems on my smartboard so the kiddos can easily view the poem.  It will also allow be to use my marker to draw attention to the skills we are working on for that week.  If you don't have a smartboard a simple printed version will work great as well!

Quick Tech Tip: To display these poems onto your smartboard or interactive whiteboard you will simply open up the file using Adobe Reader {which is standard}.  To view the poem full screen you will click "view" at the top, then select "full screen."

I will also have a set of the poems printed for the students to have in the classroom library.  We all know that so many students come to school having this thought they don't know how to read...when we know that reading is so much more than sitting down with a chapter book.  I feel that it's my mission to show these kids that they CAN read!  By placing these poems in the classroom library they will be able to reference back to the poems we've covered...they will be experts and very proud of themselves!  Hey, I can read after all! :)

To create my printed version of the poems I printed the cover page on cardstock and laminated it along with a plain piece of cardstock for the back cover.  I then printed out the poems on standard copier paper.

Lastly, I bound the book together for the "wear and tear" ie. lovin' the book will receive in the classroom library.

You can download the freebie poems by clicking below!  If you believe these will work for your classroom OR even better a fellow teacher send them this way to grab theirs!

Enjoy and happy teaching! :)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Getting the Classroom Back to School Ready {Scrunchy Border}

Hi friends!  I am back with another getting your classroom ready post!  This time I will show you how to tackle and conquer a scrunchy border for your bulletin board!  Now, if you are in a pinch time wise for back to school this may not be your best, but look no further if you have a little time to spare and want a super cute pop to your bulletin boards....scrunchy borders!

You can see a snap shot below showing one of my bulletin boards completed with a scrunchy border! I ....rather that my husband painted my bulletin boards for me this summer!  I used fabric for a couple of years, but this was so much cuter!  

The posters on the bulletin board are a freebie from Christie at First Grade Fever

The color I chose was A Day at the Jewelers from Lowe's!  I would recommend to prime your bulletin boards ahead of time so they don't soak up as much of the second coat!

Okay, now back to the scrunchy borders!  I had seen them on Pinterest, but wasn't quite sure how to make it work until I just went ahead and tried!  I am NOT a perfectionist when it comes to "crafty" tasks so this was just for me!  It didn't need to be straight or cut perfectly..I was able to truly "wing it!"  I knew though, that I wouldn't want any staples to show after it was complete..so that was the only tricky part!  Do you see any staples?

Well, the only time you can see the staples would be when you get very close and stand looking down...you can see a view peak-a-boo staples, but they don't show up from just viewing from afar!

You can see that is is not perfect {with intention}!  The paper overlaps the silver frame at times which is a-okay with me!  I have seen others cut along the frame to make it look straight, but I was going for a different look :)

Okay, so how do you get started?  The only materials you will need would be bulletin board paper -you could use regular copier paper as well it will just take more strips, scissors, stapler, and possible glue stick {white-not purple}.  

Cut a 2-3 inch strip from the large bulletin board paper.  See I told you I do not cut straight Ha!

Then, I folder the paper like an accordion!  You can also smash it a little once it has been completely folded up- which gives it a little character ;)
Next, staple the first strip to your bulletin board.

 You will then fold up the next piece...being sure that cover the staple from above.

Continue this same routine down the side of the bulletin board.  You can angle the pieces from side to side...just being sure that you get the staple from above covered! If you have folded a larger piece up and it is a little wavy you can use the white glue stick to hold it down!
Below is a look at the completed bulletin board!  I was really trying to count to see how many strips it took for each side, but I lost track LOL!  I believe it was six.  Also, it is so much easier going vertical, rather than horizontal..so prepare yourself for that!

If you have any other questions please feel free to email me or comment below!  If you missed my first edition you can click on the following picture! Talk soon!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Getting the Classroom Back to School Ready {Custom Writing Folders}

Hey there!  I am so excited to get my fingers typing again!  I know I have been blogging here and there this summer...but I haven't had the chance to spill my random thoughts and blabbering with you :)  I said I was excited to SHARE this idea with you, but I would be completely okay with the title saying: Getting the Classroom Back to School Ready! Ha!  We can dream right?  Well, the other day I did the dreaded "count!"  You know what I am talking about right?  Well after I took a deep breath I went outside to enjoy some summer!

If you have followed me long you'll know that I am not crafty...I can though, recreate fairly good! I stumbled upon this pin over the summer and fell in love!  Click HERE to view the pin!  Also, the pin did not lead to the original poster. So, if these are your gorgeous folders please email me so I can give you credit!

So, I gathered my supplies and started in on these!  I am eliminating chair pockets this year so I needed a place for students to store their writing materials.  Also, we will be using Lucy Calkins writing units this year {more on that later} so I knew the kids would need a place to keep their current stories and extra writing paper.

These are so easy to make and I didn't even ask my husband for help, once!  Yeah go me! Here is a list of materials you will need: folders, scissors, tape, and storage bins.
I purchased these folders at Walmart for $0.37 each!  I loved them because I wanted a seem-lees look on the side without the indentations of the brad folders.  I purchased the black bins at Walmart also.  They were $4.97 each, but you could easily use any kind of book bin you already have!  I got the decorative tape at Lowes, but you know it's everywhere!
I started first by placing the tape around the bottom of the book bin.  I started in the back so the seem wouldn't show.  I then cut a strip of tape for each folder.  I noticed that depending on the brand of the tape it was harder to cut, but easy to tear it across.

And the finished project...

Below is a look at what my folders will look like at the start of the year!  On the left side is my KinderPhonics student ABC charts and on the right is the writing paper!  The writing paper is a new freebie I posted!  You can scroll down to grab it!

 Grab the freebie writing templates below!

Also, if you are near Missouri DeeDee Wills and I are hosting a Missouri Teachers Meet up!  You don't have to have a blog or even know what one is to attend! :)

Well just remember we are easing into this back to school thing together.....deep breaths ;)
Have a super week my sweet teacher friends!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Close Reading Book Study {Chapter Six}

    Hello there!  Someone said it's July.... it can't be!  I guess I will have to accept it and move        on! I'm sorry this post is getting to you a little late.  I have no excuse except...weekend            getaways!  We all need a little fun in the sun! :) Missouri does offer some nice views :)

In case you missed it last week Lyndsey covered chapter five of the book study.  If you didn't catch it you can click HERE to read the post and grab some adorable freebies!

Chapter six is all about RIGOR! The chapter begins by discussing three important ways we can construct our close reading lessons to offer reading comprehension and strengthening our students's abilities to interact with texts.

-Using Bloom's Taxonomy
-Using Webb's Depth of Knowledge A.K.A. DOK's
-Differentiating rigor for our students

Bloom's Taxonomy consists of three major systems; affective, cognitive, and psychomotor. Below is a visual to help you understand educational objectives of the taxonomy.

The text then on pages 114-115 offers a VERY informative "menu" of prompts/questions to help aid the structure of your close read to that of one following Bloom's Taxonomy. Below I will list a couple examples for each.

-Knowledge {Low level questioning/Basic Recall}- What is...?  Identify...

{Low level questioning/Basic Recall}- Explain why....  Summarize...

-Application {Intermediate questioning}- How/why...?  What facts prove...

{Intermediate questioning}- Compare __and __.  What caused ___ to happen?

-Synthesis {Higher level questioning}- Rewrite a new ending to... Hypothesize what would have happened if...

-Evaluation {Higher level questioning}- Argue against...  Evaluate the author's use of..

The authors state using the above mentioned options can help deepen the students thinking during the close reading..ultimately increasing their RIGOR!

Up next is Webb's DOK levels!  Webb's DOK's are broken down into four levels; recall and reproduction, skills and concepts, short-term strategic thinking, and extended thinking.  Below you will find an example for each as to how it would look in a close read lesson plan!

- DOK Level 1 {Recall and Reproduction}: Define the term... What is...?

-DOK Level 2 {Skills and Concepts}: Can you explain why...    Summarize the text.

DOK Level 3 {Short-Term Strategic Thinking}: What conclusion can you draw from...  What do you predict will happen next?

DOK Level 4 {Extended Thinking}: Analyze two texts.    Which text supports...?

The text points out the the two models cannot be aligned with one another easily, but the do overlap on certain goals.

The book then goes on to discuss the importance of differentiating rigor for our students.  I thought you would find this particular quote interesting: "...our students are not all identical to one another.  They are, instead, unique with their own individual strengths and weaknesses."  So true, yet it seems like sometimes we are the only ones that truly get that!

The book ends the chapter with again summarizing the important fact that rigor can not be the same for all students within your classroom.  The final two chapters are two of my favorites!  We will discuss close talks and close writes!

I hope you have a great start to you week! :)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

KinderPhonics Unit One: Letters A-Z {freebie}

Hey friends!  I have been absent for awhile...it feels so great to share a brand new creation with you!  This project has been on my mind for some time and it feels awesome to finally get my ideas down on paper.  Below I will tell more about the program!  Note that this is the first of three units.  When will the other units be released?  I'm really shooting for this summer!

KinderPhonics is teacher created for teachers!  This phonics curriculum is made up of three units; Letters A-Z, Sounds to Words, and Words to Sentences.  The program is well thought out and does no ask for unrealistic measures from the teachers or the students.  The program is flexible and can work in place of or with your current phonics curriculum.  A brief description of each unit is included below.

Unit One: A brief introduction to the alphabet.  This unit dedicates on day per letter.  Phonemic awareness skills covered in Unit One:  rhyming, syllables, and single sounds..all covered under the RF.K.2 Common Core State Standard.

Unit Two: A review of the alphabet with a focus on handwriting and letter sounds.  Two are dedicated per letter with a review day at the end of the week.

Unit Three:  An introduction of more rigorous phonics skills.  Dedicated one "week" per skill.  

Below you will find a few snapshots of the resources found in unit one!
Letter Sound Cards

Alphabet Picture Cards {3 per letter}

Dry Erase Handwriting Cards

Letter Sound Posters

Alphabet Flashcards

The Handwriting Helper {printed and place into THESE reasonably priced sleeves}

Alphabet Charts {student and teacher versions}

If you would like to read and SEE lots more about unit one, including; a scope and sequence for three units, sight word list, and more click below and click the free preview!


I also know as a visuak person myself that I need to see how this work for my current school calendar.  If you would like to see how these units could fall throughout the school click HERE to view a draft.

Also, after asking on my facebook some requested no spelling/fluency tests.  So, I did not include anything in the unit for that in case you were not interested.  However, if you are interested in the above mentioned draft I have line out spelling words that align with the concepts being taught at the time.  I also made these FREEBIE fluency check templates you can use alongside 
KinderPhonics©.  Click below to grab the freebie!


I will let you know via my Facebook once units two and three are released!

Have a great weekend