Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Daily Schedule Linky

I must admit that I LOVE peeking into other teacher's classrooms and seeing how they arrange and display materials, etc.  However, I think I LOVE looking at how they arrange their daily schedules even more!!

I know.....I'm nosey. But it's great to learn a trick or two from others isn't it!

So when I stumbled upon the Falling Into First blog and linky party I couldn't wait to see how others are organizing their day.  I re-arrange my room almost weekly frequently.  Sometimes just a shelf here or there and sometimes several centers/areas have a new spot.  This seems to keep everything organized and cleaned up on a regular basis. =)  Although I don't have as much freedom to change my schedule as frequently I do try to tweak it to make it work for my kids and their current needs. 

For instance our writing time is very short at the beginning of the year. Now however we could spend almost the entire morning working on writing.  Today I'm sharing what our schedule currently  looks like. I'm also sharing what I love about it and what I would love to be able to change a bit.  There's always room for improvement!

 
Our Day
 
Our day begins at 7:45. The kids filter in from and turn in their planners,notes, etc.  We wait for the morning announcements and do the Pledge of Allegiance. 
 
7:55 Morning Journals & Reading Conferences...I usually give them a topic to write / draw about. Many times it's about our rules or perhaps a science topic we are interested in. They are able to share these with each other as I hold individual reading conferences with about 3 kids. I do love this time! It's a great start to the day and lets them get caught up with some of their friends before we start with our listening times. 
 
8:15-8:45 Morning Meeting

So during our morning meeting we usually go over our visual schedule. I'm not posting a picture of this for now due to the fact it is really faded and needs to be revamped a bit. =)  We then move on to our shared reading activities, morning message and some word work with marker boards.

 8:45-9:15 Writing Workshop
 

During our writing work time I begin with a quick mini-lesson. This is one time of our day that I wish I could stretch to be a bit longer. Some days we do depending on what other activities we have going on.  I like to have them share from the Author's Chair but often this has to be pushed to a little later in our day.    Today we used our anchor chart for leaving spaces. I posted about this chart last March. The post is there for the general info for those interested but many of my pictures were deleted due to a technical glitch. =( 
 
During our writing time I try to hold individual conferences with 3-4 kids and then roam the room helping those who need it. 
 
 
9:15-10:10 Daily 5
I have really tweaked this program to work for my classroom throughout this school year.  I also have kids leaving for RTI during this time frame.  Daily 5 for me is a work in progress!   For now we are beginning with "read to someone else" in the form of partner/book bag  reading. I then move on to working with strategy groups while the rest of the kids make their Daily 5 choices. Depending on the day we have one to two rounds of choices.   
 
10:10-10:40 Calendar and Math Stations
This is a great part of our day!  We begin with calendar and then move on to our stations.  Right now I have six stations and I pull kids to work in small math groups. 
 
10:40-11:30 Planning Period
 
11:30 Story or Author's Chair
We wait for our class' turn to wash hands for lunch with a story or Author's Chair. These transitional periods are always hard to work with but this seems to be working for us now. 
 
11:50-12:30 Lunch and Recess
I have lunch recess duty 2-3 days a week. We rotate Fridays. =)
 
12:40 Quiet Reading Time ...Daily 5 Read to Self
They LOVE this time of the day! I play soft music and they read from either their book bags or shop from book tubs for new books.
 
12:55-1:10 Whole Group Math
This is where I cover material and they complete seat work from our math series.
 
1:10-1:40 Center Time / Thematic Activities
Our favorite time of the day!!!  At this time my students can once again choose a Daily 5 choice or they can choose a traditional Kindergarten center such as house or blocks.  I  feel these are very important for this age level!  At times we also work on small group thematic activities...usually focused on one of our science topics. 
 
1:40 Snack
1:50-2:10 Recess
2:15 Pack Up
2:25-2:35 End of day wrap up
2:35-3:05 Dismissal Procedures...yes this is how long it takes here. =) 
 
If you are like me and love to sneak a peek at how other teachers schedule their day don't forget to hop on over to
 Falling into First
 
                                                       Mrs. M


Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Sharing....a peek at our new math and word work stations

Oh Mondays.....so hard to get back into the routine sometimes. But this was an exciting Monday for our room! It was the 100th day and we had all sorts of fun!  Besides the various regular counting activities we also wrote about something we will be doing when we are 100! We'll be making these into a class book. So far they are turning out really cute!  

Besides celebrating the 100th day this week we'll also be getting ready for Groundhogs Day! I LOVE that I already have our favorite sub lined up to come in for a visit. She is going to make a special treat with the kids to help celebrate this day. Stay tuned....

In the mean time here is a peek at some of our math stations and word work activities.  I forgot to charge up the camera battery so these are from my phone and just a little odd looking to me. =)  However, you'll get the idea of what we are up to!

We are continuing our study of 3D shapes. Last week I put these various shapes into one of our math stations just for exploration. They loved them!!  This week they are sorting them into categories.  
3D shapes that can roll
3D shapes that can slide
3D shapes that can stack



After they sort the shapes they can write the names of the shapes on their recording sheet.  We made a list of names of the shapes but so far everyone seems to be using the sheet that came with the geometric solids instead. Go figure...



We have been working so hard on counting to 100! Here's our recording sheet for making 100 tally marks. Each child must then take a turn counting by 5's to their partner.



Last week in our math stations we had a writing to 100 activity.  Most of the kids are still completing this activity this week.  However, for my kiddos that have it finished they can make their "self portrait" of what they will look like when they are 100. I can't wait to see these!



Some of our new word work activities include make c/v/c words with dice......

We are also sorting our lower case letters by those that are
short
tall 
have a tail


During writing time recently my kids have really shown an interest in OUTER SPACE!! I've been busy putting out space books and posters. We'll be beginning to read just a bit about this topic tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to this next adventures with my kiddos!

                                                                                    Have a great week!
                                                                                    Mrs. M

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter Writing Display

When I was a student teacher I remember the beautiful hallway displays of student work that the teachers were expected to put up for everyone to see.  As a new teacher I worked very hard to create amazing displays of my students' work.  Over the years though as the expectations of what students should be learning increased these creative displays  greatly diminished.  =(  The demands of creating more rigorous lessons and activities took up much of our time and the hallway displays were put on the back burner.
 
I even remember a former principal telling us to no longer worry about what we were putting in the hall but to concentrate more on what was going on in the classroom.  VERY valid point .....but I sure did miss the fun stuff in the halls. 
 
 
Now with all of the inspiration found on Pinterest and various teaching blogs I'm beginning to notice some fun displays of student work popping up again!  I love what Mrs. T (who teaches down the hall from me) put up recently to showcase her students' writing about what types of activities they like to enjoy in the winter. 
 
Here's a peek...........
 


 
 
 
 
 
In the Winter I like to snowboard.
 


 
In the Winter I like to build a snow fort.
 
 
 
In the Winter I like to have a snowball fight.
 
 
 
Hope you enjoyed these! I thought they were fun! My kids love looking at them in the hall when they walk by. Have a great "short" week!
                                        Mrs. M

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Keeping Track of Student Data

Every August like many other teachers I am so full of ideas about how I'm going to stay organized!

Sound familiar????

In my case my themes, materials and units are fairly organized.

But.............
my system for organizing my data needed some help. Serious help.

I've always had everything I needed in regards to data. All the records have been there but they just were not organized in a way that made the data easy to utilize.

This year was the year I decided to focus more on organizing my student data. If I want to be able to use the data to make informed decisions on how to design the best lessons and activities for my students then I must be able to access this data easily. Otherwise it will sit in a big binder or file somewhere and not be very useful to me or anyone else that works with my kids.  Is it just me or does anyone else find this happening to them?

Every year in January our building gathers ALL of their student data.  Each regular classroom teacher meets with our counselors and principals to go over the data. We discuss the levels of each of our students and determine who is on track and who is not. Of course strategies and additional support items are determined for those kids in need.

Getting all of this data organized by the beginning of January can be a huge job. I tried really hard this year to keep up with it all so when my "data day" came I would have everything I needed.

So today I'm sharing a sampling of what's in my binder and also a few other ideas from some of my colleagues.  Hopefully you can find something you can use!



Every binder needs a cute cover. This one belongs to Mrs. B.....I of course love her cupcake!



First in my binder I have a copy of the Kindergarten Common Core Quarterly Breakdown for my district. Our essential outcomes are highlighted as well.  



Baseline testing for the whole class. I had paras and title teachers helping and they did give me a nicely printed report. For some reason I seem to keep referring to my original hand written copy though when looking at their growth from the beginning of the year.




Here is a sample of what Mrs. T uses for record keeping in regards to letter recognition, sounds, number recognition and sight words. She can see at a glance how many letters, sight words, etc. that the kids know each month. It's a great visual for showing student growth for each skill. 





For our baseline testing we tested the kids with flashcards, etc. and recorded their results on the above forms. Mrs. B is continuing to fill in her data on this form as the year continues.  


However...

Sometime during the first quarter we tried ESGI Kindergarten Testing Software and loved it! As you see below there are reports (individual and class) generated by this software so I am currently not using the above form. That is one thing I LOVE about our building...we are allowed the freedom to use the types of means/measures that work for us as individuals. =)


So above is an example of the ESGI class report for letters and sounds. For some reason I have an extra column that should not be there for sight words.  I have a reports for communication arts and math for each quarter.  On the side you can see my tabs for the individual student sections in the binder.  

The Student Sections



For each child in our building we have a consistent data sheet that follows them until they leave us in 4th grade.  This is the Kindergarten section obviously. Next to the Kinder section is an area if a student was retained and on the back we have the 1st - 3rd grade sections.  



Above you can see the individual student reports generated by ESGI.   I love these! I can send them home to parents and they can see exactly what letters/numbers their child needs to work on.  For second semester additional skills will be tested with this program besides just recognition of letters,sounds and numbers.  At this time I have seperate forms for testing writing letters and numbers. I just recorded the info for the parents to see on the ESGI reports.


Yes, yes I know my individual reading conference notes are not on some fancy schmancy form. =) Free hand notes work great for me though!


After reading and making notes during my individual conferences I check off the reading strategies they are implementing on the above form.  Mrs. B and I both use these. She created one for early in the year and one to use later in the year. The common core standards that go with each reading goal /strategy are listed at the bottom.


Also included in each student section are their writing conference notes.  I do use the "Two Sister" forms from The Daily Cafe/Daily 5.




Finally the last piece in each student section....our writing rubric!  Here's a copy for those of you wanting this.    I am only scoring writing samples every other month. Once a month was a little too ambitious for me this year. =)  I am keeping these samples for their end of the year portfolios. 

What about math????
I do have a math conference recording sheet similar to the writing conference. This also came from The Daily Cafe/ Daily 5.  I am hoping to begin having more regular math discussions/conferences later this quarter and will begin using these at this time.  

Does this all fit in a binder???
Believe it or not this does all fit in a regular sized three ring binder. I don't even use one of the huge ones!  I currently have 22 students and I also have one blank student section with all the forms just in case I get a new kiddo anytime soon.  In the past I've used a crate with files for each kid and of course a file drawer. This proved not to work too well once we started having regular data meetings.  Just too hard to grab everything I needed when I headed out the door!  

So I'm always up to trying out new ideas! I'd love to know if any of you have any great student data collection organization tips. Please share!

                                                                                                       Mrs. M



Friday, January 11, 2013

Kindergarten Writing and Jack Frost

I LOVE January in a Kindergarten classroom!! Although I am beyond exhausted with getting back into the swing of things... I am so excited about being in school this time of the year.

In January we not only get to have all sorts of fun Winter learning centers, but it is also when our KINDERGARTEN writing really takes off!  I can see the potential of some amazing Kindergarten authors right in front of me each morning! So exciting!

When we return in January I usually begin with this little gem...
 Product Details

Some years my students are really into this book and some years they are not. This year's group really seemed to enjoy this story and so we continued with some class word lists and shared writing.


When their interest in our snow topic continued we moved on with another one of my favorite books I have used with my students since I began teaching......


You can tell that this book has been well loved by the taped up spine and crinkled corners! My kids really loved this one!! Especially the illustrations.  They began working on their own snowy day stories using a writing prompt.





I love Kindergarten writing! I especially like how she is going to "fro" snowballs at her mom. =)

Besides reading big books we've also been listening to a fun winter CD I inherited from an amazing retired teacher. It also came with some cute activities. When I checked out the name on the CD it turns out you can download many of their songs for $1.  They also have work shops which is where I believe my friend got her winter packet.  Here's a link to their site: Learning Workshop


The song that we have enjoyed the most on this CD is JACK FROST!!!

They had a fun time with this cute little art activity...

Most of my kids did the art activity and included the message that Jack Frost wrote to them. However, I sent them home before I remembered to snap a picture for the blog.



We did however really get into writing our stories about Jack Frost though!! This cover went with the packet from Learning Workshop.  I told the kids they could any type of "adventure" story about Jack Frost.  Here's what a couple of them came up with:
Story 1



(Jack Frost. We are playing!)

Story 2

 "Can me and you have a snowball fight? I love Jack Frost."


"Jack Frost is going home."


"Bye Jack Frost!"

It is still early in the year (in regards to writing) and many are just now starting to feel comfortable enough to begin trying to write on their own. However, I must say I am one happy teacher! Their effort and stamina is amazing. I can't wait to see how their writing skills continue to develop!

I hope everyone survived their first full week back. As I'm writing this I'm sitting on my couch and am just too exhausted to move from this spot. =)  However, I can't wait to get back to see the little sweeties next week. After a nice relaxing weekend that is! Have a great one and rest up.
                                                                                 Mrs. M

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Few Winter Centers

Day four and we are starting to get back into the swing of things! Yay! We are off to an amazing start this semester and I can't wait to share some of our activities (especially writing....wow!) with you. In the meantime this post is rather random but I wanted to share a few of our Daily 5 choices and math station activities. I hope you find something you can use. =)


Some of our adorable snow creatures they have been creating in our art area!




Okay...I've had the above poem for YEARS  and I'm not sure where it came from. So if you recognize this please let me know so I can give credit to them.  However, this word work activity could be completed with any fun winter poem.  My kids are first "buttering" any popcorn word they can find in the poem. Next, they are asked to underline any "chunks" they can find. Finding "chunks" is a new skill for us but we are off to a good start.  Once they are finished buttering popcorn and finding chunks they can record their findings on an index card to practice reading to a partner. 



Here's another oldie but goody! Our team is great about sharing and I got this one a few years back from a now retired co-worker. This was before I discovered teacher blogs so once again I'm not sure where this gem came from. Please share if you know. =)  I'm using this activity as part of my writing work during Daily 5.  My kids are completing and making this into a  resource to keep in their writing tubs.  




For ABC work I've added this cute little beginning sound matching activity from Making Learning Fun!




Also from Making Learning Fun! is this cute little counting activity. I love when the kids can self check their answers during a center activity!



Earlier this year my kids were working with this adorable counting pigs activity for numbers 1-5.  They LOVED this and it was a favorite during math stations time until almost November. For the winter months I've decided to make a similar counting cups activity...


As an added skill I'm having them count the "snowballs" by using a tweezer.....anything to help those fine motor skills!!!!


Currently we have a couple of math stations that take less time for the kids to complete. So I always try to have some back up activities for them. Here are two of our calendar activities the kids can work on with their partner once they finish their math station.  



Earlier this year I posted about this super simple calendar activity for ways to make 5.  We've since expanded this for numbers up to 10.  I plan on leaving this as a choice for math stations and will rotate the cards for numbers 5-10.  



Super simple but they love this one. =)  Numbers 0-15 cards that they put in order together with their partner. Our 100 chart is hanging above this and is a great reference for those kids who are unfamiliar with numbers 10-15. 



Our latest name work activity in our post office center.  We are just beginning to write our last names. Many of my kiddos have no idea how to spell their last names...so this is where our post office book comes in handy!


I hope everybody is surviving this first full week back. I stayed for quite a long time after school today working on data,etc.  I'm glad to have the majority of this finished so I can begin once again to focus on creating meaningful and fun activities for my kids....with a little help from all of the wonderful bloggers out there of course!  Thank you for reading today and I hope you found something to help get your centers started in this new year!
                                                                                                    Mrs. M
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