Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Power of Reflection

My journey in becoming a National Board Certified Teacher really taught me the importance of reflection and how it can change your teaching.  This morning I was reminded of that during our staff meeting.  The focus for our meeting was the importance of diversity and embracing that diversity to meet the needs of our students.

We have worked a lot this year talking about diversity and embracing diversity in our school.  You can see some of the things we did in my post on Cultural Diversity Day.

Part of her presentation was this video clip.
Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

Key points from the video.
  • the +2 is more powerful then the -18
  • learning is building relationships 
  • everyone has been affected by a teacher and adult
  • kids don't learn from people they don't like
  • every child deserves a champion
This video really hit home for me.  I also came from a family of teachers, my maternal grandfather was a teacher and then an administrator.  I also have several aunts who are teachers and administrators.  My aunt Libby used to spend summers with us and I remember hearing stories about her classroom and students while I was growing up.  When my aunt died at a young age I was surprised to see so many of her students at her awake and funeral.  When thinking back it was apparent that she had built connections with many of her students.  As I am again reflecting on her funeral and the celebrations after I remember hearing stories of how she drove all over Atlanta to take one student to every swim meet he qualified for.  I don't remember what the circumstances were but, she was his cheerleader and coach encouraging him to keep going.  The story I remember the most was the impact that she had on PacMan.  He was a football player at her school. He did not come from a very supportive family, but that did not stop him and that did not stop my aunt from helping him reaching his goals.  He became a son to her and she even attended his mom's funeral years after he graduated and became a professional football player.

My Aunt Libby

Even with all of these amazing teachers in my family when I got to high school, teaching was not something I was drawn to.  I took the math classes and the drafting class to become an engineer just like my dad, my godmother and my godfather. That was until my sophomore year when on a whim I signed up for child development and meet Ms. Pimental (now we just called her "P"). "P" showed me that working with children and teaching was in my blood.  She gave me the reins to show my true potential.  Before I knew it I was writing the curriculum for the preschool that we ran and raising money to build a playground.  When it came to to choose what path I would take, teaching was at the top of the list.

When I graduated high school "P" was front and center handing me my diploma and celebrating with my family. At my graduation party she leaned over to my dad and told him "I won!" to this he responded "you did." This is not something that I heard first hand but something I was told a couple of years later when "P" and I went to dinner. When I first heard this story I had a complete look of confusion on my face.  She smiled and said "I won. You were on the path to become an engineer and I changed that.  I showed you that your heart belonged in the classroom." I smiled realizing that she had WON!!  This one teacher changed my life forever.

With reflections also come the "now what", what are you going to do to better yourself and your teaching.  My goals for the upcoming weeks and the rest of the school year.
  • Take the time to email at least one parent a week to tell them something positive that their son/daughter has done.  Hopefully opening the lines of communication and building a relationship with them.
  • Make time in our schedule to get to know my students and reflect on how much they have grown.  We need to share our student success and make them proud of themselves. 
  • When picking topics to discuss or books to read think about my students and what they would like to learn about. And of course making sure we are being diverse!!!
I want to be a champion for my students. I want to make a positive difference in their lives!--This is my ultimate goal.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

10 Apples Up on Top

Yesterday we started talking about making 10.  I love to start new math units with literature, this one was no different.  We read 10 Apples Up on Top by Dr. Suess.  You can also watch it on YouTube.

Then as a class we used a ten frame to figure out how many more apples each character need to make 10.

To check for understanding students worked by themselves to complete a similar worksheet. Click on the picture to grab a FREE copy.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Gearing Up for the Aquarium

Next week we go to the Aquarium so this week and next we are going to be learning about aquatic animals.  We started our unit off today by reading Swimmy by Leo Lionni.

Here is how our study of this book will go.

Day 1:

  • read the story to the whole class with little discussion
  • reread pages 1-19 with the purpose of identifying the characters and setting
  • students will then draw/write who the main character is and what the setting is (collect papers)
Day 2:

  • reread pages 1-19 and identify the characters and setting
  • continue reading the rest of the story with the purpose of identifying the problem and solution.
  • give students their papers back from yesterday, on the back they will draw/write the problem and solution (collect papers again)
Day 3:

  • Students will get into groups based on the shape on their paper
  • while in groups they will discuss the main character/setting
  • then discuss the problem/solution
I can't wait to see their learning shown through writing. This is something we have not done much of. You can grab a FREE copy of our 4 corners activity here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fancy Words

We have spent the last couple of days talking about "Fancy" words.  These are words that make our writing interesting and add details. I introduced this topic by read Fancy Nancy and pointing the "fancy" words she used to describe differnt things she was doing. my kids were eating it up.

Then we looked at the word great and came up with some other words we could use in our writing instead of great. They did pretty good.

The next day we did the same thing with the word pretty. 

I hung both of these on our "Fancy Word" wall and the next day I saw some of these words in their writing.

Now then we read a book my kiddos raise their hand anytime they hear a "fancy" word. Want a copy grab them here as a FREEBIE!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Accelerated Reader

Recently our PTA bought Accelerated Reader for the entire school. At first we were told we wouldn't have to do much, but we quickly found out that kinders could not do it on their own. So after some brainstorming here is what we came up with.

Instead of sending our kiddos to the media with the rest of the school on Tuesday and Thursday morning we created a sign up genesis for parents to volunteer for time slots on Tuesday to give our kiddos the AR quiz one on one.

We were also having trouble communicating with parents to know what books students were ready to take a quiz on. The students could tell us what the story was about but not always the title or the author. So we created these slips that we then attach to the back of the homework. When a student is ready to take the quiz their parents fill out the form and send it into school.

Our PTA also purchased charms for our kids to wear on a necklace for every 5 quizzes they pass. My co-worker and I worked so hard the first week and even had volunteers and couldn't get the kids to 5 passed quizzes. So we switched it up and now students will receive one pony bead for each passed quiz they take. When they hit 5 they will get the 5 charm. 

To help keep students necklaces in a safe place and so kiddos remember to wear them on Fridays I created an Acceralated Reader Hall of Fame. To identify whose necklace is whose I created these brag tags, that you can get here as a FREEBIE!!

We are off to a great start and my kiddos are so excited to take an AR quiz!!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Diversity Day

Last Thursday we celebrated Diversity Day at my school. The kids had a great time and really enjoyed learning about different people who have changed history.

Here is a recap of our lesson

We had parents come in to help us talk about diversity and how their family is diverse.  The kids loved to see their moms, dads, and siblings. 

We used this mini reader from Jennifer Drake at Crayons and Cuties in Kindergarten.

Grab your FREE copy of the four corners activity we did here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Indoor Recess and Brain Breaks

It has been pretty cold here the last couple of days and with the cold come snow (yea!!!) and indoor recess. For indoor recess I offer my students 5 choices; computer, watch a movie, color in coloring books, read or do a puzzle. On days we have indoor recess we always need a few more brain breaks.  Here is a list of 10 of my kiddos favorite.

1. The Crazy Frog

2. The Sid Shuffle

3. Just Mario

4. Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride

5. Happy Feet Move It

6. If your a kid Dance Around

7. Let it Go

8. Happy

9. Shake Break

10. Ants in you Pants

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Last Minute Wintery Word Work

So with the long weekend I decided I would create some new word work games to get me through the end of the month. So here you to the end for a freebie!!!

Snowy Match-students read the word then add a "magic e". They read the word again and match the word to the picture. 

Mitten Match-students match the picture with the ccvc word. They can check their answers by making sure the color of the mittens match.

Wintery Fun!- students use the word cards to make a sentence. Then write the sentence next to the correct picture.

Rhyming Mittens-if the pictures on the mittens rhyme you color a happy face if they don't you color a sad face.

Wintery Words-students roll the dice then read the words next to the corresponding number. The more they roll the better they get! This is a great fluency activity. I also created this game with nonsense words grab the here as a FREEBIE!!!

Want to use these games with your kiddos get them here at my TpT store.

Off to work on some Valentine's Day word work and math a activities!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cultural Diversity Day

On Thursday we will be hosting our first cultural diversity day at school. We have parents coming in to help us lead lessons and promote diversity.

First up how do you explain diversity to kinders. Earlier in the week our guidance counselor lead a lesson on being different. To get the kids interested in talking about being different she had the kinds think of something they could draw with her brand new box of crayons. With a little guidance they came up with a rainbow. She pulled a blue crayon out and drew the first line. Then she pulled another blue crayon out and drew another blue line, and another and another. (Before the lessons she filled the box with only blue crayons) When done she asked what's wrong with my picture. With a little guidance she got them to see that all the lines were the same. 

Then she read The Crayon Box that talked. They discussed of by themselves all the colors made boring pictures with out any details but together and different they created beautiful pictures. 

As a class they created a circle map tell how they are different. Then each student got their own crayon to write what makes them different, they added the crayons to a class crayon box to remind them that it is ok to be different. Grab you free copy of the class crayon box here.

On Thursday we will be building upon this lesson by looking at what diversity means and then we will celebrate something they have done for the first time and were proud of it. This will be our lead into talking about a historical figure who accomplished a first and changed history. Kindergarten will be focusing on Barack Obama. Stay tuned for the fun things we will be doing. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Week of Animals

This week and next are short for us. It's the end of the marking period and our high school students are taking their final exams, but we are going to try and fit in some lessons about animals.

First up is the lion....

Informational Text: Pebble go and Pebble Plus

Going on a Lion Hunt

Great book but my kiddos love this you tube video just as much

Lion and Mouse

Essential Question: I love the pictures in the book Lion and Mouse that for this week I decided that we would focus on how the illustrations help us understand the text.

Concept Board:

Next week we will look at the elephant. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Week of Penguins

This week we focused on Penguins....

Our essential question was: Could we have a penguin as a pet?

Informational Text for the week:

We decided that we could not have a penguin as a pet because we do not live south of the equator. 

This week we also read Tacky the Penguin. First we described Tacky, then we compare what his friends thought of him at the beginning of the story and what they thought of him at the end of the story.

Above all my kiddos loved finding the "fancy" words in the story and figuring out what they meant.  This week in writing we focused on using "fancy" words and I am loving how it has carried over. I will post about "fancy" words next week.

I found this craft project a little late it's going into my files for next year. :-) Click the picture to take you to the directions from Miss Kindergarten.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


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Monday, January 12, 2015

Great week to learn about Snow

I don't think we could have been any luckier last week.  Our theme for the week was snow and we actually got some SNOW!!!! The kids were so excited even though we didn't have a snow day.

Our essential questions for the week was: What makes a snowflake?

We started off the week by researching snow on pebble go.  The kids learned a lot and so did I believe it or not.

Some of the other books we read were...
~Snowmen at Night
~The Snowy Day
~There was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow (check out my retelling activity on TpT)
~Snowflake Bentley

As a fun crafty project we made snowmen.  They loved it!!! and they didn't turn out too bad.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hot Cocoa

Last month I decided to change my housekeeping center into a elf wrapping station complete with mini gift boxes, wrapping paper, and even a mailbox that went to the North Pole.  My kiddos loved it!!! So for January I have turned my house keeping into a Hot Chocolate Shop.  They were so excited when they came in this morning you would have thought it was Christmas.  Most of the things I put in my shop are things I gathered from my house but I did purchase a couple of things from Amazon.

Things from home... empty coco containers, empty hot chocolate tins and boxes, hats, scarves, gloves, spoon, old travel coffee mugs (I also saw these at the dollar store the other day), and some disposable coffee ups. I also included some empty gift cards to starbucks and dunkin donuts.

Thing I bought... Melissa and Doug slice and decorate cookies and a coffee maker.

Here is a side view of what it looked like when I put everything together.