Monday, January 19, 2015

Peek at My Week

Peek at My Week: MLK, Jr. and How to Make a Snowman

Oh my! It's been ages since I linked up with Mrs. Wills Kindergarten for a Peek at My Week...
This week, we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a state holiday in his honor today, and I'll be using a few of my favorites to be sure my babies know who he was and why they were out of school.

First, my all time fave book about MLK is Martin's Big Words, and I always show it being read aloud on this link to youtube. The voice-over is amazing, and the video zooms in and out of the pages. It's absolutely captivating. Now, I've learned to put all my youtube videos in safesharetv. If you don't know about that, let me tell's the BEST! Just go to your youtube video and copy the address. Then go to and paste the link in the box. Click Generate and the website edits out all the commercials, sidebar junk, and everything else but the content of your video. Good-bye inappropriate pictures on my PolyVision board!

As you can see, from my schedule, Tuesday is a really light teaching day. My kiddos are gone to all sorts of special activities, and I have them all to myself for only a couple of hours, so, after watching Martin's Big Words, we'll talk about who he was, what he stood for, and what happened to him. Then it's off to the library and STEM lab. When I get my babies back, we'll make an MLK anchor chart together and brainstorm some ideas for how we can make the world more peaceful. I'll end the lesson with having the kids write about their dreams for a better world.

Later in the week, we'll continue using these great resources from Amy Lemons and Jessica Hursh during stations, while I meet with my Leveled Literacy Intervention reading groups:

This unit from Amy Lemons is amazing, and is perfect for keeping my little ones' minds focused on basic addition and subtraction with and without regrouping.

I'll also introduce my newest project, which I'm so excited about! I learned to make a Jeopardy-like game in PowerPoint this past week and can't wait to play it with my kiddos!

 Another great resource from Amy Lemons, this set of station activities focuses on everything from synonyms to compound words, and all sorts of goodies in between. My kids love doing stations, and they learn so much, both independently and with partners, while working on them. I have to thank my friend JWoo for introducing me to what stations even were! They have literally changed the way I teach.

I'm mixing Amy's Polar Pals with Jessica Hursh's Winter Literacy Stations for the third week this week. These activities are so similar to the ones from Polar Pals that it's perfect for reinforcement of the skills my kiddos have practiced in one or the other to mix the two, repeating the same skills!
With all these wintry stations, our read-alouds last week were all about snowmen, and we even made snowmen from, of all things, Dunkin' Donut Munchkins! 

Ok! I have no idea why he's upside-down!

or why he's sideways!
Then we began a piece of expository writing about how to build a snowman. Of course, we had fun eating the ones we made in class! This week, we'll take this piece through the writing process, with the tough tasks of revising and editing. This is so hard for my babies, but I made a breakthrough last week! Of course I had modeled what to write and how to use transition words, but I wrote exactly what the kids told me to write (no making sense of it, just taking dictation). The next day, I read each sentence aloud, one by one. After the first one, one of my smarties said, "That's NOT a sentence!" Ding, ding, ding!!! It hit everyone that there was no subject and that the phrase didn't make sense on its own. After so many lessons on rereading your own writing, I don't know what made it hit home, except that maybe, because we wrote it together, and reread it on another day, the kids didn't see it as they meant it, but exactly as they had written it. Awesome! Now we really get the value of rereading.

In math, we're spending the week on analyzing and solving word problems. It's time, now that my littles can read and comprehend on grade level, that we tackle the beast head on! A few years ago, I bought Hope King's PSA Approach to Problem Solving. Later, she and I met and I wrote a teeny-tiny sister product, PSA Froggy Problems, with her permission. I'll be using both this week to show the kids how to get through the words to the math, choose an operation, find the important information, solve the problems, and check for accuracy.

Other than our winter MAP testing, that's our week. Hope yours is wonderful!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Year's Update & FREEBIE!

A few weeks ago, I linked up with Mrs. D's Corner to share my New Year's Resolutions. I thought I'd check in for an update.

On the personal front, I'm trying hard, and I'm finding that it gets a little easier each day. God is right there, at the front of my heart and mind, and He has led me to be able to let so many things go! For the first time in a long time, I'm fully at peace with whatever may come our way. I know His plans are perfect.

Professionally, I'm getting better at planning in advance, buying stations on Teachers Pay Teachers, rather than always trying to produce my own, and being able to use my planning period to make copies, look over student work, and, yes, plan!

On that note, planning has become easier for me because I bought 30 activities before Christmas, made all the copies, and laminated all that needed to be laminated. During the bowl games, I cut everything out and organized it all into Ziplock bags. 
Laminated, and ready to cut...
All the copies, ready to sort out...

Laminated, cut, sorted, boxed, and trash ready to toss!
Y'all, I know there's tons of Pinterest pages devoted to organizing and storing stations, but I gotta tell ya, put the directions and any cards or pieces in a page protector and put that, with the recording sheets in a gallon bag, and it is per-fect! Every kids knows where everything is, how to put it back neatly, and it's ready to go for next year, or reviewing later this year!

Okay, I admit, I haven't started the Organization goal yet, but there's still time - we're only 2 weeks in, and I did just tell how I organize my stations!

Students are always first in my class. Really. I love, love, love them! When they're having a bad day, I have a bad day. If they cry, I almost always do, too. So when work is hard, and I see that look on their little faces - the one right before frustration sets in, I practically RUN across the room to catch them, before they get frustrated. So far, in 2015, they are still fighting to learn, and that's more than most of us can ever wish for!

If you stuck with me this long, you deserve a freebie! We've been working really hard on knowing when to regroup in addition and subtraction. Yes, we have the posters. Yes, we've used base ten blocks, Unifix cubes, and every other manipulative in the universe, but the most effective thing we've started to do is CHAS. Circle the ones place. Highlight it if there's more on the floor. Analyze what we have to do, regroup or not, and Solve. To help us, we've sorted a ton of problems into little booklets. Click on the pic to get your copy of everything, including directions!