Character Education - Social and Academic Skills in the Classroom

8/12/2018 / Leave a Comment
In my first year of teaching I taught a 5th grade class that benefited greatly from social and academic support.
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Word of the Day - Adding Vocabulary into Your Daily Routine

8/02/2018 / Leave a Comment
I started using a daily vocabulary word when I worked in pull-out in grades 2-5. I worked with accelerated readers in the computer lab and they struggled when presented with new words in their reading passages.
I wanted to find an easy way to provide them with a new word and definition each day, while also reinforcing the concept of using context clues to solve words independently.
In the beginning, I displayed the word on our reading strategies bulletin board and we would talk about it before they began our workshop.
After awhile, I wanted to make it more impactful, so I added in a notebooking component. I would have only the word written on the board, and during the transition between Writers and Readers Workshop,  they would record it in their notebook and discuss what it meant with their peers.
After that, I would uncover the poster and we would discuss it as a class. They would share out their predictions and then record the definition in their notebook. Some students would copy the context sentence I used, and others would challenge themselves to use it in a new sentence.
The year I taught 5th grade, I decided to go digital with the word of the day. We recently had projectors and Apple TV's donated to us, and I wanted to utilize them to save time - plus it saved me having to print and display the word each day!

When it appears on the screen, the word is covered in the context sentence and the definition is covered as well.
I would give them several minutes to read the context sentence and predict what the word might be. At first I had a lot of random guesses, but with time, they began to predict more accurately. 
Once they were ready to move on, the animation takes away the the word on the center of the slide and from the context sentence. 

It does not fade away until you click, allowing your class to discuss the sentence as long as attention holds.

After they have reread the context sentence, they would then predict what the definition might be. I found they were much more successful at solving the definition when they were only presented with an image and a context sentence.
The last click reveals the entire slide, allowing them with an opportunity to record the word and definition in their notebooks.
If you are interested in seeing more about these resources, please click the pictures below!

Do you incorporate vocabulary into your daily routine? Let me know how below!
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Parent Communication with Digital Newsletters

7/31/2018 / Leave a Comment
For the past few years, I have tried to stay on top of parent communication. One of my teammates used to send a note home weekly - but that never worked out for me!

I decided to do monthly newsletter, and then has worked better. Though I always seem to miss December and June! I wonder why? ๐Ÿ˜†

Even on the months that I would write one, I would have the hardest time getting to the copier. I would have it ready to go, literally in my hand, then our copier would break, or I would have to go to a meeting...you know the drill!

Plus, I have a confession to make...I absolutely detest having to copy them each month and put them  into mailboxes. I can always think of at least 10 more important things that I need to do instead!

I decided to switch over to digital newsletters for the upcoming school year. I'm hoping that these colorful templates will be a bit more eye-catching too, rather than a black and white paper piled amongst many others!
All of the headers are editable, so they can be changed to suit any schedule. There are text boxes already in set in place, so once you upload it to Google you are ready to go!

It'll just take a few seconds to add in all of the upcoming events and units we have been studying in class. Then I can simply share it with my parents through Google.

I am all about obtainable goals, and I know I can easily send home a newsletter each month this way!

If you are interested in these digital newsletters, click here!
Prefer a printable copy? Click here!
How do you communicate with families in your classroom?
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Assessing with Exit Slips in Kindergarten

7/28/2018 / Leave a Comment
When I first started teaching Kindergarten I used lots of full sized worksheets. I would watch my students struggle through each one, most of the class only completing half of the sheet. It seemed like such a waste of time...and paper!
Between the uncompleted work and the excessive time I was spending copying and prepping papers that did not seem to be helping my students, I decided to rethink what I was doing.
Did I really need to stress my students out just to do a quick check on their understanding?
Should I really be spending one whole prep period each week copying piles worksheets for the next week just to see if they understood what I was teaching? ๐Ÿ˜› I felt like my time was better spent preparing hands-activities that really allow my students to explore and direct their own learning.
This year I switched to using exit slips for all areas of our daily routine. We use them for motor skills, handwriting, phonics and math. I knew it would be helpful for me time-wise, but I had no idea how much it would benefit all of my students as well.
They love the smaller sized papers (1/4 of a sheet.) Even my most reluctant writer or math student is willing to sit down and give these mini activities their best effort. They enjoyed them so much that they were disappointed whenever we didn't have one to do because of assemblies or holidays! ๐Ÿ˜‚
I found that I got the same, if not more information, from these exit slips  than I used to get from a worksheet.

I think it is because they are willing to take the time to solve the less intimidating exit slip. Before many students lost interest when presented with a full sized paper and did not do their best work.

I love how these exit slips only take a few minutes to score and put into my grade book which is another plus!
One of the best parts is how much paper and time exit slips save! I only have to run off 6 sheets to cover my whole class. Even if I run off 5 days worth, I am still only using 30 sheets of paper. It just takes a few seconds to cut them up and I am ready for the week ahead!

After using these all year I found my students were much more relaxed when presented with these exit slips. I still got all the data I needed and the slips allowed them to have time to play and work on hands-on activities, which is much more important! Also, when we did do a full sized sheet from time to time, they worked very hard and seemed to give more effort than I had previously seen.

I had a much easier time managing paperwork and was better about sending work home to their families. I just find correcting a small stack of papers way more motivating and easier to maintain in the long run! ๐Ÿ˜†

If you are interested in checking out any of the exit slips I have available, please click here or on the pictures below!



Do you use exit slips in your class to save time?
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Finding a Way to Track Books Read Aloud in Class

7/20/2018 / 2 comments

Finding interesting books to read aloud is never a problem and in Kindergarten I am always able to find time to fit them in throughout the day. Tracking these books however, has always been a problem!


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Loose Parts Play in Kindergarten

6/23/2017 / Leave a Comment

Out of all the new things I implemented this past year, loose parts play is my favorite. I have been interested in incorporating into my classroom for years. Especially after watching my Kindergarten students do it naturally with all of our resources in math centers.
This year I purchased two sets: Fall and Spring. Next year I will be incorporating a Winter set as well.

Fall

I purchased these adjustable drawers from Amazon and they are perfect, because you can stack them all together when you are done!
For this set, I purchased: dowels, wooden doll people, wooden clothespins, pheasant quills, sticks, lotus pods, pine cones, painted wooden buttons, unfinished wood slices and polished stones
Of course, being in New Hampshire has its perks, I was also able to add some beautiful maple and oak leaves as they began to change.
This became one of our arrival activities each week. I loved seeing the different creations they would make!
Loose parts play can get messy! But thanks to the drawers, they were able to clean it quickly and efficiently each time we used them!
 
I think this was one of my most favorite creations. He used a lotus pod as the top for the tent and sticks, feathers and dowels for supports. It became a campground!
To store it, I just placed everything into Ziploc sandwich bags and then put them altogether in a two gallon Ziploc bag. Now it is ready to go for next fall!
Spring

For this set, I purchased: cool toned felt balls, feathersbright toned felt balls, bright toned faux pearls, acrylic gems, silk plumeria flowers,  assorted bright buttons, colorful lollipop sticks and I included the wooden people from the Fall set.
I put this one out in March, I could not resist. We were at the end of another long dreary, gray winter!
 They were so excited by all of the colors and textures!
They even found ways to connect the felt balls to the popsicle sticks. A few even included flowers in the mix, but I missed the picture of those!
This set definitely added a bit of fun to our Monday morning arrival time!
These last two sets are not exactly loose parts, but they are two collections my class adores.

One is all the buttons I have collected over the years from making jewelry.
Some even came from my old necklaces and bracelets. I spent a rainy Saturday taking them apart.
They love sorting them and asking me all about where I got the beads and what kind of jewelry they belonged too.
Last up is our button bin! Some are from my own collection and some were donated from my amazing sister, Ladybug's Teacher Files!

They have used them on our 120's chart. But most often, they use them for sorting.
 I have a few students who like to see how they change when they put them on our light table!
 Do you use loose parts in your class?
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