An Amazing Vegas Giveaway for Teachers

VIVA LAS VEGAS!!
 Can you picture it now?  YOU in LAS VEGAS?
The “Primary Chalkboard”
Team of Bloggers
Wants to Send You
to Vegas!

How about YOU in LAS VEGAS attending a one day session of the SDE conference? Primary Chalkboard is giving away a 1 day session at SDE!
You get to pick your day at the SDE conference! I know you are going to pick Monday so that you can see one of our own super stars, Katie Knight present!
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So, will it be Singapore Math, Differentiated Instruction, I Teach K, I Teach 1st, or the  newly added I Teach 2nd? How incredible is this little giveaway?
BUT, that's not all,
we're also including a $25 gift card to the SDE bookstore,
CRYSTAL SPRINGS.

So, NOW can you picture YOURSELF in VEGAS?

Oh, you say you need money for airfare, hotel accommodations, or just some spending money while you are here?  Well, we've got that covered, too.  How about ….
$300 DOLLARS IN CASH?!
NOW, can you picture YOURSELF in VEGAS?

Here's how to enter for a chance to win.
  1. Hop through our Facebook pages
  2.  "Like" each page as you hop through so that you can collect the tip.
  3. Each tip will have a number on a playing card.
  4. Add the numbers together....

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Egg-actly What We Need Now That Assessments Are Over!

Have you seen plastic eggs just about everywhere you look and wondered what you can do with them in the classroom. I posted about this last year but I thought it was worth repeating because my kinderkids loved them so much. What is it about things that are "mini" in size? These activities reflect the skills I am pounding on right now! Yes, they are CCSS aligned. What are you working on that I missed? Leave me some suggestions!






I am bringing these in on Monday as a surprise for my students and I hope they love them as much as I do. I made response sheets for the activities and I will have students work with a partner.
Where can you buy the eggs? I got them last year in Dollar Tree and Walmart and I have more than enough to make these and about 2 million more (hoarder issues). The smart thing to do is buy them after Easter so that they cost pennies! These are in my tpt store if you click on each picture.  I have an additional set entitled Scrambled Eggs that you can find here. I hope they make your day EGGCITING!




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Be Aware and Please Take Loving Care of Our Earth

Earth Day is one of my favorite themes to use in the spring. It is celebrated on April 22nd but I love to do activities related to this for several weeks. Friends of the Earth is a Common Core packet that has been carefully designed to meet the needs of your primary learners. It will help to raise student awareness of the importance of recycling and taking care of the earth.
I have included both literacy and math stations that will build the academic language of your students and promote student engagement. Writing activities are also included and scaffolds have been provided to ensure student success. It also addresses the needs of your English language learners.Many of the printables serve as a record of student understandings and can be used for assessment and homework. Check it out and see if it looks worthwhile to you. When I was a Common Core coach the kinder and first grade teachers used this and got beautiful results.

Students even make a simple necklace using straws to add some bling! If you would like to purchase this packet it is available in my TpT store. Be sure to pick up the headband freebie too! Help our children learn to care for the earth and each other. What do...

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Earth Day is Around the Corner: Grab this to get started


Don't you love this time of the year? The weather is getting warmer (okay I live in Southern California) and your students are actually showing some progress and becoming much more independent. Whew... I bet you thought it would never happen and before you know it you will be hugging them all goodbye and telling them to have a great summer. Before it all slides past you why don't you do a mini unit on Earth Day instead of  just spring? You can teach a lot of different skills but also give them some understanding of recycling, reusing, and reducing. I think this is worthwhile and goes along really well with any unit you do on plants. Today I am offering you a freebie that might force encourage you to try this next month. You can pick it up right here if your kids will have fun making a little crativity. It's a headband that you can sponge paint and add a little info to. No fuss just easy to put together. Who doesn't want to wear the Earth on their head as an accessory? 
This packet is finished and it has been carefully aligned to the Common Core (naturally). I think it is one of my best products. I even included some writing that has been differentiated for young students. This...

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Attention... Doing Intervention

Can your students blend and segment? 
Sorry that I have not been blogging lately but with report cards and conferences I was busy with school 24/7. As I created assessments and checked off the skills my students were suppose to have mastered I realized that many of my students were not picking up on many phonemic awareness skills. They are all English language learners and they are just not ready to blend or segment.They were unable to hear subtle differences in sounds. What does a teacher do? We are assessing our students on these skills earlier than ever and often they struggle with these demanding skills.
So how do I help them achieve these goals? I knew I needed to create some materials that would help to scaffold their learning. I want to share some of these ideas with you.
First, I needed to stay organized and pull students who needed additional support. My middle group needed to refine these skills so I needed good materials to build on their understandings. 
I found the perfect box at Target that had 2 drawers that snap together and hold so many games and cards. I labeled each game and placed them in slider bags that I purchase at a fantastic store called Daiso where all...

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Where Did The Year Go?

I cannot believe how the year is flying by right under my nose. Here we are in May and I am slamming past Mother's Day and moving right along trying to plan for closing out the year. This has been one crazy, demanding year for me with Common Core and a new teaching partner. Whew, it makes me reflect on how lucky I am to be a teacher but how little down time there is.
This is Teacher Appreciation Week across the country and it forces me to stop for a minute and acknowledge all the amazing teachers that have influenced my life in so many important ways. Teachers who have encouraged me, stretched my thinking, tried to organize me, enlighten me, and just plain love me for the mess that I am.
Kindergarten teachers are the mostly loving, generous people on the planet. There, I said that out loud and I mean it.  When I attend conferences I am flabbergasted by the kindness of my peers. Everyone loves "their kids" and spends endless hours prepping and planning to give our youngest learners the best and most engaging activities to make learning powerful. We have a huge influence on our littles and their attitude towards school. If you are reading this I am sending you a huge cyber hug and...

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Mothers Are Magical

Mother's Day is right around the corner and this year I decided to try something a little different. One of our grandma's is a professional photographer and I asked her if she would be willing to take a picture of each student for a Mother's Day card. I loved the idea of it being in sepia and looking like an old fashion picture. She was so sweet to agree to this and bought a "brick" backdrop to use. I think these will be sensational. Now what do I use for a card? I thought about this for a long time and came up with this:

I knew these papers would be perfect for this kind of picture so I bought both and luckily they were on sale. I was rolling along when I found this little number on another aisle...


I decided to add a little pizzazz to the card and make it look a little more antiqueish (okay not a word) but you know what I am sayin'

 I made this for my students to cut and paste on their card but they can do this any way they want to. I will try not to be a total control freak but I will show them some samples like this one:

The picture will go on the other side (right) and the set comes with an envelope they can decorate as they please. I will share some of these when they are...

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Grab a Teachable Moment In Your Classroom...

Have you ever brought a pet to your classroom? I can't think of a better way to engage young children in learning. They will be full of questions and this provides an authentic opportunity to learn about an animal. It's a great way to take a break from your standard curriculum and have some fun.

My teaching partner brought in her leopard tortoise for the class to see and touch. They were speechless with happiness to see an animal up close. We seized the moment to explore the life cycle of this animal and just a little information about her.

We learned that a tortoise hibernates like a bear and Daisy had just started to move around to let her owners know she was awake and hungry! 


We talked about how you have to care for a pet and what to put in her habitat to keep her happy. We learned what a leopard tortoise needs in their environment and what they like to eat. Who knew hibiscus flowers were on their list of tasty treats! 

Students could gently touch her shell but we explained the need to wash your hands just to be safe. They loved watching her move around and were fascinated when she ate the dark leafy lettuces in her habitat. 


When we took her outside for recess she loved moving...

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It's "Bean" A Long Time



We have done a great deal of planting in our classroom recently which was part of a Common Core unit that I wrote with some of my teacher friends for our district. For the first time I got to actually try out my own materials and see how they worked out. This is the Greenhouse I came up with but my friend recommended trying this with corn seeds instead of Lima beans. I found out she gave me great advice! We sprayed a paper towel with water and put these in a baggie that I attached to the back of this little house. The kids loved coloring this in and were so excited to hang these in our window. We crossed our fingers because I have not had much luck with this in the past.




My teacher friends who are amazing gardeners told me to soak the beans or corn first to get the germination going. This was fun because the beans really puff up and the kids are shocked when they observe them the next day. They loved looking at this using a magnifying glass and drawing what they saw. Great activity for you to try next year or even in a summer program.

Here are the corn seeds growing in the Greenhouse and here is a clear cup with a few seeds. Obviously the soil makes a real difference. We also...

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Special Events and A Freebie to Boot



Our school does a Parent Volunteer Tea as a thank you to all of the parents that work endless hours in our classroom. I could not run my program without them. They make countless books for me, trace pieces for art projects, and work with children to help them gain confidence and be successful learners. I have so much gratitude for the moms and dads that come through my door each week, filled with enthusiasm and energy! 
I wanted to do a few special things for the tea but I had very little time to pull this off. Here are some simple ideas if you ever get stuck and need "quick and easy" solutions. Any candy in little clear bags with a topper is appealing and easy to throw together. I had tons of skittles so here is what I put in a bright colorful basket (Dollar Tree is my friend). If you want the topper you can grab it here and use it for any special event. It says, "You are better than any treasure found at the end of the rainbow." Leave me a comment if you like this and tell me what you are using it for!

My daughters were in town for Mother's Day (so special for me) and suggested making shortbread since this takes very little effort and the results are gorgeous. We used Barefoot...

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What Should Kindergarten Teachers Be Reading This Summer?

Every summer I promise myself that I will clean closets, catch up on friendships that I sadly neglect, and do some professional reading that is essential to staying on top of educational trends. Here is my beef. Often books have suggested grade levels (k-5) and kindergarten is mentioned in just a few places. The information is great but not for our "littles" and I get frustrated by this since it rarely changes my teaching practices or relates to my classroom experiences. We often hear that "kindergarten is its own animal" and I find this to be so true. What is out there for kinder teachers that is worth reading during your precious summer weeks? Here are my top picks for you:

GENERAL BUT AMAZING READS:
This book is huge and expensive but it looks like it is a terrific resource for learning aboutflexible reading strategies. It is laid out in a very simple, powerful way. Goals are clearly stated. What are you working towards? Skills students need to practice are provided and finally, specific strategies for getting there are offered. It is set up almost like a "cookbook" and you can look up topics that you need more help with. Levels are clearly provided and there is plenty at the...

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What's New In My Store With A FREEBIE!



Hi there friends. I have been working on several products for my TpT store over summer break and I finally have a few to show you. This is Spotlight on Numbers which can be purchased in my TpT store. Take a look at these pages to get a sense of what is included. 
My students are addicted to bingo daubers and will do anything to get one in their little hands. Does that sound familiar. Daubers are beginning to show up in lots of places now but I particularly like the ones in Dollar Tree and at the Target Dollar Spot. I found Darice Bingo Markers in a Teacher Supply Store and they were fairly inexpensive. You can purchase them at Amazon too. 




Here are some photographs of this product so you can see  actual pictures in "real life." Students make their own Number Book which focuses on numbers from 1-20. It has been carefully aligned to the Common Core, just so ya know!



I thought it might be fun for you to have an actual page from this packet as a freebie and what page could be better than one with my friend Pete the Cat! Right! When you click on the picture below you will be able to download this document. Please do not forget to leave me a comment too. Thanks for being a friend.

If you...

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Life at the Target Dollar Spot...freebies on their way

Target Dollar Spot:


I can't decide if Target Dollar Spot is a friend to me or not. It is summertime and I should be relaxing. School will be looming in front of me in just a few weeks. But... I was in Target and the Dollar Spot was calling to me (once I grabbed a Starbucks coffee). I just glanced over. You know where you just sort of sweep the bins cause you are totally in summer mode and not ready to think about your classroom. I resisted the call to check them out.
The bins were pretty chaotic so I was even less interested in exploring them and hit the main part of the store first. I raced down the first aisle (those bins were calling to me) and slammed around the corner.  Believe it or not School Supplies had taken over the entire back end of the store. Who knew? Nothing was on sale that grabbed my attention so I made sure I didn't even slow down. But then I noticed  black charts hanging on a back wall. BLACK. I swear if they has been any other color... Yup, black pocket charts for $1.99. I was sucked right into the Target School Supplies drama. I was not leaving those in the store, no sir.  So I threw 2 into my cart and knew I was now hooked. OMG. Target has hypnotized me...

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Where Have You Been?

Hey there. Sorry I haven't been around much lately but I have been busy for the last few weeks trying to get my classroom ready for my students. The air conditioning is not working too well so it was rough in the heat but somehow I pulled it all together and thought you might like to see some of my projects.
The theme in my room is Pete the Cat so I did a board with shoes that have the names of our students on them. This is not quite finished but you get the idea. The banner looks really nice and brings out the colors in the room.


I have lanterns hanging over each set of tables and Pete is hanging off of them with a label. This is an easy way for children to identify where to go.

I redid the bucket seats that I made last year because they were used each and every day and were pretty filthy by the end of the year. I saw these fabrics in Walmart and could not resist them since they match the room perfectly. Each seat only cost 2.00 to redo and it was a huge improvement. I covered these right on top of the original fabric, using a staple gun! Easy.


My husband was sweet enough to make mini anchor charts for me and I have one on each set of tables for the children to use when needed....

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Can You Believe It?

Tpt is busy helping teachers get ready to go Back2School and one of  my Chalkie friends created this darling sale button to rock your teaching world. My entire store is on sale and guess who has a few new products? Yup, do not fall on your face.
Check these out girlfriend:
Click on a picture to "shop till you drop."








I hope you find some packets that will help to make your year easier. I work really hard to make these packets worth your money and filled with content that is useful for young learners. Please click right here for my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and remember all of this has been carefully aligned to the CCSS.
Have a wonderful start,
Fran Kramer 







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Literacy Gems: Make Learning Fun


Can you believe it? I actually created another packet that I really love. How many of you have been making letter gems to use in your classroom? They are all over the internet. I decided to make a packet that used these gorgeous gems to make word work throughout the year more fun for the kids. As an extra bonus I threw in a few math activities just because... Do you want to check this out? Take a peek at this.



In this packet I show you how to make the gems with photographs to help support my directions. They are easy to make and hopefully you won't go crazy and make endless amounts... just sayin'.
I also give you advice about organizing these treasures (maybe I was a pirate in a previous life) so they will be easy to manage.



This packet also included cards (many, many cards) that provide students with word work practice that is more fun and more engaging than what I typically provide. Who knew it could be so much fun? Lots of skills are covered, from letter identification to cvce words. Sight words are included and building sentences is included too.


Many teachers have told me they like having related response sheets and I recommend using this for assessment purposes or homework....

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Tips for Taking the Littles to the Lab

Our school has a computer lab where kindergarten students are expected to log in on their own with a a six digit student number. This is crazy since most of them cannot even read numbers and have never touched a mouse (the one used for technology) in their lives. What does a teacher do to hold on to her sanity, which is slowly slipping away?  Create a scaffold.
This works for me so don't go insane yet... there is hope.
First, I make a card for each student with their first and last name and their student ID#. I pop this up pretty big so they can see it with ease!  The number is placed in a grid so younger students have an easier time tracking it with their young eyes.  On the right side is the computer they are assigned to. Once they learn where to go you will love that they just come into the room and sit down quietly. Okay, that was a lie. This can all be done in Power Point or Publisher.
Notice that I have a boy or girl graph on the left side. I recommend changing that to a photo of each student to make this easier for buddies, (I am getting to that) the lab tech, and your poor sub who has to do this.
Are you with me so far? Once you have all your names listed in alphabetical...

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Back to School: A Night to Remember

I have been one crazy, busy teacher with the start of school. Kids have been moved around, parents have tried to hang out in the classroom, and kids have been crying. This is all part of the chaos of starting kindergarten. 
I gave each student their own name tag which they were thrilled to have but I had to remind a few to stop sucking on it. I guess they were not feeling all that comfortable yet. 
My students are adorable but I have my work cut out for me. Many of them do not know their colors and can't write their name. Does that sound familiar?
The paperwork at the beginning of the year makes me crazy and on top of this our staff decided Back to School night should happen as soon as possible. Yup, you read that right and I was the only one waving her hand to say NO- NOT YET. I am so not ready for this. 
Why am I freaked out? I have NOTHING on the walls. My goal this week was to keep everyone IN the room and happy. This is no easy task with the bolters looking to escape if the opportunity presents itself! One tried at recess.
Anyway I have a Power Point but my old teacher partner is back with me (can I hear an AMEN) and with two new administrators some policies have changed. OMG...

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Snapshot Of Our Room

Hi there,
I have not really disappeared but I have been missing for a few weeks. The year started off with a bang and I have been really busy planning activities to keep an active and chatty group of children busy and engaged in learning. This is no easy job as many of you well know but I have given it my best shot. Here are some photos of what has been going on in September and October...

September was all about apples and exploring their understanding through both Science and Social Studies. We saw lots of  You Tube videos on Johnny Appleseed and the life cycle of an apple. I made several apple readers that they loved too.
 I am all over subitizing and practicing it with my students. This has really made a difference in their ability to recognize the number of dots on dice when playing games. I made a Power Point where I click through the dots at top speed and they love "racing" to tell me the answer. This has been so much fun and can be changed throughout the year depending on our theme. It is really building number sense quickly.

 I introduced a variety of sight words but used apple images to help to build their academic vocabulary. This game was a huge hit but I got tired of...

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Teaching with Informational Texts: Close Reading Lessons for One Tiny Turtle

One Tiny Turtle was written by one of my favorite authors, Nicola Davies. 

One Tiny Turtle Lesson Plans

This book chronicles the life cycle of the loggerhead sea turtle.

As with most informational texts, we start by discussing our schema on the subject. We want students to think about what they already know and attach their new understandings to their prior knowledge.    Here are a few of the responses we got.

One Tiny Turtle Lesson Plans
Sea turtles hatch and go to the sea and live there forever!

One Tiny Turtle Lesson Plans
Sea turtles live in the sea.    Sea turtles start out as tiny as bottle caps.

One Tiny Turtle Lesson Plans
Sea turtles live in the sea.  They use their shells to hide from big things.

One Tiny Turtle Lesson Plans
Sea turtle start in shells.  When they get older they live in water.  Mom turtles hide there eggs under the sand.

 After reading the text, we create an anchor chart to help support our new learning.
One Tiny Turtle Lesson Plans

Students worked on their own All About Turtles books.

One Tiny Turtle Lesson Plans
Sea turtles have to hurry to the ocean so they won't get eaten.

One Tiny Turtle Lesson Plans
Sea turtles have hard shells later [when] they are older.
In addition to reading One Tiny Turtle, there are also fantastic videos.  Johnathan Bird's Blue World are always fantastic.


The lesson plans ending with a fun sea turtle life cycle activity.

One Tiny Turtle Lesson Plans

One Tiny Turtle Lesson Plans


One Tiny Turtle Lesson Plans

I also wanted to mention that we have added...

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Are You Ready to GET YOUR TEACH ON?


Need a teacher pick-me-up? Looking for some of the most current research based strategies that will light your classroom on fire? Join us in 2016 for Get Your Teach On – a one-of-a-kind experience for K-3 teachers.  You will spend a day with Deanna Jump, Hope King and their special guests, as they share their passion and enthusiasm for education and give you their tips, tricks, best practices, and teacher secrets to building a successful and engagingclassroom. You will leave feeling empowered, motivated, and prepared to create dynamic lessons that will challenge your students and leave them hungry for more. Get Your Teach On is sure to be unlike any other educators’ conference that you will attend. Pack your favorite teacher bag, get ready for some educational magic, and join us in 2016-2017 as you prepare to Get Your Teach On!
MSNBC Coverage: 




Who will be joining us this year? 









Session Topics? Click on each link below to find out all of the details of this 2-day workshop! 

     

     

Click below on any location to register! We can't wait to see y'all! XOXO! 

  

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Erin Condren Teacher Planner LOVE!!!



I love all things, Erin Condren!  I use their Life Planner every year, so when they offered to send me their Teacher Planner to review I jumped at the chance.  Look at all the goodies they sent!!

First, let's talk about their planner.  They have thought of everything!  Here are a few of the things you will find inside.


An All About Me page for you to record all of your important information.


A place to keep track of special events, volunteers and hints for your substitute.

Student checklists to keep track of things such as picture money, field trip forms, etc;


A place for long range planning.  

A list of Holidays and Dates to Remember

Lesson planning pages.  Love the color coding for each day!
                                                               

Two-page monthly calendar with plenty of room to write!

I love that they have so many covers to choose from.
Here are a few of my favorites!





I love the planner so much that I had to give my daughter one for graduation.
She will be teaching first grade next year.
SO proud!!!

Ready to order???

Click HERE to order and you will save $10 off of your first purchase.
If you spend $100.00 you'll get the t-shirt for FREE!



I also love this pouch to...

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Opinion Writing for kindergarten and first grade

Opinion writing in kindergarten is one of those things, in my opinion (see what I did there) is best done spirally.

We certainly introduce writing for a reason as a unit of study. However, we want the students' understanding of opinion writing to grow as their transcription skills grow.

Recently Deedee worked in a kindergarten class and tested our new Opinion writing unit!

She started by asking the question...
Students wrote their opinion on a slip of paper and placed it on the pocket chart.

She purposely showed invented spelling on her own card, since she is really pushing this crew to be FEARLESS spellers and just put the sounds they hear on the card.

She also introduced them to several anchor charts.  Here is one that is included in the unit.
Here is what they came up with!
The best way to get around is to ride a bike because I don't get as tired.

What is the best way to get around?  I think scooters are the best because it is fast and also has a handle [bar] and you sway on the scooter.   
I think running is the best because you can get to places fast.  That is the best way to get around.

What is the best way to get around on your own?  I think that a bike is the best way to get...

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Guided Reading! Getting Organized

Getting organized for guided reading can be a challenge.  In order for it to be effective, you need to keep your resources handy and all together.
 So I like to keep my guided reading books and lessons together in individual binders.

 Each binder is organized by level.
 and having the spine labeled helps be find the resource I need in seconds!
 Inside the binder is where a disaster can happen if you are not mindful!
Right inside the cover is where I put the sound boxes.  I slide them into a sheet protector so students can write on them with a dry erase marker.  As students progress to higher levels, they will have experiences with 3-4 phoneme words.  For Levels A & B students will simply work with 2 phoneme words.
Inside, I have placed 6 pocket dividers.  I have labeled each of the pocket dividers with the name of the text.  Each set comes with 3 fiction and 3 non-fiction texts.
Each level also has a black and white option.
As I turn the page, the back part of the pocket (the right side) houses the sentence work and any word work materials that will go with that book.  On the left are the lesson plans for day 1, lesson plans for day 2, and the running record recording pages.
Here is an...

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Guiding Reading Planning & Instruction

In my classroom, I used a combination of whole group instruction (close reading, shared reading) and guided reading to teach reading.  With whole group instruction you focus your teaching towards the ability of your more proficient students' ability.  Then you scaffold and support those students who need it.

However, guided reading allows you to tailor your instruction to fit the needs of each individual student.  You bring your reading lessons to THEIR instructional level.  This is just another piece of the "learning to read" puzzle.  Guided reading is done in a small group with 4-6 students.   
You can find these pages in my Guided Reading 101 unit.
 

Even the simplest of texts require thoughtful planning.
 
 Then I use these lessons to plan my next steps with that group.
 

Running records are also important to document the reading.  Running records provide a reading diagnostic tool and helps you recall the strategies you observed and the teaching that took place during that lesson. This is an important step in reaching the needs of your learners.  You wouldn't want to see a medical doctor who does not take clinical notes!
 
  I keep my guiding reading lessons in a binder.  I place...

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Calendar Time: Building Math and Literacy Skills!

Building math and literacy skills takes time and LOTS of practice.  So I like to build in practice during our calendar time.

We know when we start the year, our students come in with a variety of skills and prior experience.   Some students start kindergarten with a year of "school" already under their belt ready to hit the ground running.  While others start the year a bit overwhelmed.  I love seeing all of my students progress, but it is especially exciting to see my little newbies take off.

So, for this reason, I like to reinforce skills over and over.  Perhaps when you introduced a skill in October, a few of your friends were not quite ready for it, but by mid-November it is right in their lane.

Keeping calendar journals that spirally review ELA and Math skills are a great way to introduce AND reinforce skills.
 We show the image on our interactive whiteboard so students are supported.

I have been asked how we do our calendar and what skills we cover.  It is a VERY quick part of our day.  It takes a total of 5-6 minutes each morning.  This is a recording from Deedee's class from last year.   She was a few seconds late in starting the video.   Students come to the carpet and fill...

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American Symbols & Presidents {Includes FREE Download}


 American Symbols is one of my favorite units to teach!  I took all of the facts about the U.S. symbols and broke them down into fun, engaging lessons.  Here are a few pics of some of the activities.

After reading the nonfiction text from my Chit Chat unit we used our newly learned information and context clues to fill in the missing information on our Chit Chat chart. 

We did a step by step directed drawing of the Statue of Liberty and wrote about her.  

Trying to get kids to understand just how BIG the Statue of Liberty really is can be difficult.  Measuring out her foot gets the point across.  We then line up shoulder to shoulder to see how many of us it takes to reach the tip of her toes to her heel.  The kids are always AMAZED!





Bald Eagles are fascinating!  We read the nonfiction book from my Chit Chat unit and then made bald eagles, created several charts and wrote about them.  There are lots of live web cams up that allow you to view bald eagles.  The kids are fascinated by them.  Here is my favorite!  The eaglets just hatched so it is fascinating to watch.  You can click on the image to view.



I love this beautiful collage of my America unit art projects that Debbie Clement...

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Guiding Math: A Workshop Model for Teaching

I love student-centered, problem-based learning so when Deedee and I sat down to design our Guiding Kinders and Guiding Firstie Math units, I knew the activities would have to be hands-on!


Our lessons follow the workshop format. 
Each lesson has five components.


This part of the lesson is a warm up that will help our students build their fluency for various math skills.  It will usually involve flash cards and the focus is on speed and accuracy.  

We introduce and model new concepts and skills through 
a mini lesson. 


The teacher and students will work together as a group to actively explore the concept that was introduced

This quote...Love!
“Math is not about numbers or the right answer.
Math is about discovery.
and exploring different ways of thinking.
It’s about teaching your students that they can solve anything.
And giving them the tools to make it possible.”
Unknown

 Our units employ cooperative learning opportunities.  First the teacher introduces a concept, then the students work with a partner to explore and practice the concepts being learned.

 “Enabling students to learn with understanding depends heavily on the opportunities that a teacher provides to his or her students.”
E....

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Arctic Animals: Polar Bears and Walruses

We have always loved learning about polar bears and animals that live in the Arctic.  



 This graphic organizer is an oldie but a goodie!



And their learning transfers into their informational writing beautifully!

 
Here are a few throwback pics
 
 

Comparing and Contrasting Polar Bears & Walruses using a venn diagram.  
EXCUSE the fact that it says, live in Antarctica!  Mercy!  I didn't even realize I had made the mistake until a sweet person told me.  Ya know how your brain just kicks into auto?  As a class we read these together and we read, lives in the Arctic.  (didn't even notice the mistake).   In fact, when we read it the kids immediately broke out in song,  "The polar bear lives in the Arctic.  He never gets cold in a storm...."

A close up of the Polar Bear glyphs!  So stinkin' cute if I do say so myself!  :)
  

The resources above came from this unit.  You can find it by clicking on the image or clicking HERE.
Note: The above unit will be updated this summer.  :)
If you own it make sure you check back for all the new goodies!
 
 

 Have a great day!

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Writer's Workshop: Writing Through the Year FREEBIE


 Sometimes it can be a challenge to organize your curriculum in a way that is easy to use.
Deedee Wills and I have been working on reorganizing and updating our writing workshop units.


 I prefer to keep my units in these 2" binders.  You can find the spine labels HERE.


 I will walk you through a unit to show you how it's organized.


Each unit starts with a unit overview.


 You can also easily see the standards that are addressed in the unit.


 A writing continuum is provided so you can see where your students fall in their writing development.  This is especially helpful during writing conferences and when you are working on setting writing goals.


 Each unit contains an updated rubric specific to that unit of study.  
There is one for emergent writers (kindergarten).


And another one for early writers (1st Grade).


You can also create a classroom chart so student-lead goals can be selected.  These goals are aligned to the rubric.


 Each day contains a scripted lesson plan that is very easy to implement.



 Kid-friendly anchor charts are easy to use... just print and teach!


Conferring helpful hints are also included.


At the close of each unit, I would collect the writing samples from the students...

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Fact Fluency for Addition & Subtraction

What is Fact Fluency?
Fact fluency is knowing a math fact with accuracy and automaticity.  Rather than needing to use math strategies to figure it out first-grade students should be able to see an addition or subtraction problem within 10 and give the answer within 3 seconds.  It is recommended that kindergarten students have math fluency within 5.

Why is Fact Fluency Important?

When students are able to fluently solve basic addition and subtraction problems, it frees up their muscle memory to work on tasks that require higher level thinking.  

How can we assess for fluency?
It’s best to let students work at their own pace and progress through the facts as they are ready.  It is important that students have a conceptual understanding of how numbers relate to one another BEFORE you begin work on fact fluency.  We don't want students to merely memorize facts.  We want them to be able to use what they know about number relationships to help them quickly solve the problems.  Once we begin our fact fluency practice, each student starts at +0 and progresses through his or her own pace.  When a child is able to solve all 20 math problems with accuracy and automaticity in one minute, we...

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Be Inspired

Look around your classroom. Are there things you wish you could change? Are you tired of the same old activities? Be inspired and come check out some new activities that will make you the best teacher you can be in 2016. Dream, reach for the stars, set your goals, and teach at the top of your game:

Grab your bags and head on over by clicking on this picture. Happy 2016! Cheers to you.

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Learning About Kindness and Being Fair


It has been a  crazy few weeks since winter break (desperate for another vacation) and we have been working on a variety of projects related to the seasons and weather. On Friday I took a break and focused on Martin Luther King Jr. This is an important leader and I like to stop and spend time on this. I remember Dr. King as a child growing up in Baltimore and his words had a huge impact on me and the world I lived in.
I think I own every childrens' book written about this great man  but this is my favorite, by far. It is written authentically but in terms a young child can understand. When I was a Common Core coach I did a close read with first grade students using this text. It lends itself well to a cause and effect map and children are able to find evidence to support their thinking with ease. I recommend purchasing it for next year or adding it to your library now. Check it out here on Amazon. 

I really like this video and have used it for several years. If you want to check it out just click on the picture to watch it. We all love Reading Rainbow... right? It might have been the only time my class was quiet all day!

Then we talked about what their dreams are for the future...

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The Snowy Day: Pictures from You! and a FREEBIE

I don't know about you, but I love looking at pictures.  Pictures capture moments in time and help us remember life events.  I love these pictures of my sweet friends and family.

I also love seeing pictures of student work.  There is nothing more gratifying than seeing our units being used in classrooms all over the world.  
Thank you to all of you who have shared your photos with me by tagging me on Instagram.
I've shared a few of the most recent ones here.  


Retelling the Snowy Day photo courtesy of apinchofkinder


Using the retelling pieces in the book center and checking the text to see if they are accurate.
photo courtesy of runteachlove


 Visualizing Peter making a snowman and snow angels.  
photo courtesy of thekindergarden


Making connections to the story.
photo courtesy of bmfar


Opinion Writing 
photo courtesy of tuesdayswithjacob


Inferring: What do you think happened to Peter's snowball?
student writing:  Oh, no! I think it melted because it was in his pocket.
photo courtesy of averycuriousclass


We've started adding craft lessons to all of the units, and this one is one of my favorites!
Snowy Day craft selfies! These look great displayed with their snowy day connections.
photo courtesy...

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ESGI Mega Giveaway!






Each day you could win a FREE YEAR of ESGI and $50 worth of products from the blogger of the day.  Can you imagine all you can purchase with $50 from their stores?!?!  Listed below are the prizes for the 12 days of giveaways:

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?

1.  The FIRST THING YOU NEED TO DO IS be sure to have an ESGI account.  If you don't have one now, don't worry, you can get a 2 month free trail by clicking HERE.

Friends, ESGI will change your LIFE!  It will help you quickly assess your students and (most importantly) put the data into a variety of usable reports.  There is no better way to target instruction (in my opinion) than using the tools that ESGI provides.  Game. Changer!

2.   Get ready to hop around to some of my favorite kindergarten blogs.  

$50 of Kinder Gals products + 1 license of ESGI

$50 of Sharing Kindergarten products + 1 license of ESGI

$50 of Heidi Songs products + 1 license of ESGI

$50 of Kindergarten Kiosk products + 1 license of ESGI

$50 of  Smart Kids products + 1 license of ESGI

$50 of Mrs. Jump's Class products + 1 license of ESGI.....WOOT!

$50 of Pre-K Pages products  + 1 license of ESGI

$50 of KFUNdamentals products + 1 license of ESGI

$50 of Differentiated...

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Reflecting On All Things Gingerbread before 2016...

 Wow, I am so late to the party but I have really been trying to take a break and enjoy my winter break. It has been fantastic and I have loved every second of it. Before I can wish you a Happy New Year I need to show you some of my December pictures and all the fun we had during the last few days.

I love doing a Gingerbread unit each year and comparing the characters in each version, talking about the "bad guy" and how the events can differ from story to story. It is so much fun to change my voice and stop right before the fox gobbles up that yummy cookie! Each year I buy more books and add to my crazy collection. These are just a few favorites that I have purchased.
I always love to send a gingerbread man home for families to decorate to their hearts content. The kids love to bring them back and show them off to the class.  The parents adore this project and it fills your classroom with such cuteness. Try it!~

If you are on this blog you know how much I love making a sight word game for each theme that I teach and I won't disappoint you... here is another one. I think the chant was "Gingerbread, gingerbread... you are so sweet, run from the fox, or you will be his treat!"
 I made...

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Cyber Smile Sale on TpT... Grab Some Goodies




TpT is having a great sale today and tomorrow. Now you can stock up on all those materials for the winter months and save some money. It's a win- win for teachers! Don't forget the promo code today: SMILE so you can get the full 28% off. Have fun and fill your cart with happiness. If you want some of my products you can find them here: http://bit.ly/1gD5LR7.

How cute is this picture of me? It makes me smile because both of my girls looked like this and so do the cousins. I love old family pictures.


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Turkey Leftovers From My Classroom!



November has been such a busy month for us. At this time of the year I am assessing students to get ready for report cards but it is also the wonderful season of fall and I love teaching about the Wampanoag culture and reading fun stories about turkeys and Thanksgiving. This year I did a billion and one activities but I will only hit the ones I loved or better yet- have pictures of. We grew seeds in the backyard of my classroom and this time a mom had the kids help her put soil in about 5. How smart was she? One of them is bound to grow and several did! This is an early picture and I cannot wait to see what the pumpkins look like this week. We talked about decomposing and the kids never get tired of watching these. If you have never done this promise yourself you will try it next year.
Whatever concepts I needed to teach during these weeks had a picture of a Wampanoag or pilgrim. This was a simple math game where they just counting the dots on each card and recorded it and I ran it on old scrap booking paper and distressed the edges with brown ink to make it look old. The kids really liked this activity and it was a great formative assessment. Does anyone know how to make a 5...

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Frog Frenzy! Learning all about Frogs


This is one of my favorite units.  The littles love learning all about frogs and it is a great time to do some opinion writing.  :)





We start our unit by charting our schema about frogs.


We read lots of nonfiction books about frogs and create our own book based on what we learned.





 This unit is packed with fun games for math and literacy centers.

This one is a fun subtraction game called, Munching Flies.
The kids roll the game dice to create subtraction sentences.
We used black beans for the flies.
  


This game is called,  Frog Warts!
The kids lay out their fly cards in numerical order.
Then, they pick a frog card from the basket, count the warts (subitizing) and match it to a fly card to make a sum of 10.  
NOTE:  ALL of the games have First Grade versions included as well.
For first grade the object of the game is to make sums of 20.




This game is called, Leap Frog
it is a comparing numbers game.  Leap Frog!
The kids each turn over a card.  They compare the cards and the student with the largest number gets to move their frog to the next lily pad.  The first one to get their froggy to the last lily pad wins.  It has several sets of cards to choose from.
The students can use addition cards and...

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Math Units with FREEBIES and Toolkit binder covers {REPOST}



Hi friends, as many of you are starting the countdown to summer you are already starting to think about next year!  I don't think ANYONE works harder than a teacher.  We never turn our teaching brain off!   Deedee and I have received a lot of requests for more information about our Math units.  So I thought I'd do a quick blog post to share how we structure the lessons and give you some free sample lessons so that you could check it out if you're interested.  

We are both big believers in the workshop model, so we developed these units with the workshop format in mind.  


The first part of our lesson is the Fluency portion.  This is a quick 5 minute math warm up, and it usually involves flash cards of some sort.  We have a set of fluency cards in each unit, and we work on them until we reach our goal, which is, FLUENCY with Accuracy and Automaticity. 



This is a picture of some of our fluency cards. 


This is the portion where we teach a mini-lesson to introduce the new concepts that are being taught.  


The mini-lesson usually lasts about 5-10 minutes, and it begins like this....





After we've modeled and taught them the new concept, we give the students an opportunity to try it out right...

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Shark Schema Chart: Teaching with Intention!


Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller is one of my all-time favorite professional development books.  When I read this book in 2008, it really helped me define my teaching philosophy and think about WHAT I do as a teacher and WHY I do it.  When you do activities with your students, it's important to be able to define their purpose and to be able to explain why you think it's important.       I LOVE this book, and I've blogged about it MANY times over the last five years.  
One of my favorite things that I took away after reading it was the idea for creating Schema charts.
In the book Debbie used file folders for schema. However, for Kindergarten and First Grade students I thought that it was important for the charts to be large enough for the students to see them and refer to them on a regular basis.  
The picture above shows what a schema chart looks like after we've worked on a topic for several days.  In the pictures that follow I want to take you step by step through the process, I use when I do these with my students.  The following are my words, not Debbie Miller's, but I hope that I can do her work justice.  :)

DAY ONE:  Before I read any books or tell them any facts...

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Guiding Readers, Curriculum Maps and FREE five-day lesson plan



We have a whole series of Guiding Readers units out.  The units cover phonemic awareness, phonics, and Comprehension skills.  Here are a few pictures that Stephanie Stewart shared with me from the April unit.





Sequencing the picture cards for the story, Piggie Pie.
Checking her notebook with the class chart to see if her pictures are in the correct order.



Writing about their favorite part of the story.


The writing activities are available in regular paper format and Flip Flap format for those who choose to put the pages in a journal.  



This little sweetie sequenced the story in his reading journal.



These lessons focus on one read aloud book for five days, so that you can really dig deep and work on a variety of comprehension skills.  This is what our five-day plan for Piggie Pie looks like.


Our systematic word work makes it easy for even the littlest learners to tackle and learn some of the higher level phonics chunks that they will encounter in the texts they read.  We've included large pocket chart pieces for many of the word work components so that there is flexibility in how it is introduced and taught.



You can break up the components and do them at various times of the day.
For...

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Thank YOU Sale


  Thank you Doodle Bug Teaching for the graphic!
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! 
Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual Teacher Appreciation sitewide sale on 
Tuesday and Wednesday 
and everything in my store is on sale 20 % off, and you can save an additional 10% off by entering the code,  ThankYou
when you check out.   
Here are a few suggestions to help you get through the end of the year.



and my NEW Ocean Animals unit


My sweet friend, Deedee Wills tested this unit out for me last week.


Reading my Shark informational text on the big screen.


Using the Sharks True or False? sheet to write their own informational text.  

                                                       Bulletin board of the shark craft and writing.

  
My Chit Chat charts can be used on for Interactive Writing on the Smartboard, OR you can write the messages on a large chart like Deedee did. 


Student version

This Ocean Animals unit is packed full of learning and fun!



We have a whole series of Guiding Readers units out.  The units cover phonemic awareness, phonics, and Comprehension skills.  Here are a few pictures that Stephanie Stewart shared with me from the April unit.





sequencing the picture cards for the...

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Math Workshop Model with FREEBIES



Hi friends, as many of you are starting the countdown to summer you are already starting to think about next year!  I don't think ANYONE works harder than a teacher.  We never turn our teaching brain off!   Deedee and I have received a lot of requests for more information about our Math units.  So I thought I'd do a quick blog post to share how we structure the lessons and give you some free sample lessons so that you could check it out if you're interested.  

We are both big believers in the workshop model, so we developed these units with the workshop format in mind.  


The first part of our lesson is the Fluency portion.  This is a quick 5 minute math warm up, and it usually involves flash cards of some sort.  We have a set of fluency cards in each unit, and we work on them until we reach our goal, which is, FLUENCY with Accuracy and Automaticity. 



This is a picture of some of our fluency cards. 


This is the portion where we teach a mini-lesson to introduce the new concepts that are being taught.  


The mini-lesson usually lasts about 5-10 minutes, and it begins like this....





After we've modeled and taught them the new concept, we give the students an opportunity to try it out right...

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Christmas in July Sale!




I'm teaming with my friends at Blog Hoppin' for our Annual Christmas in July sale.
I was driving the bus down struggle street today and I totally forgot about this!  So sorry!
Here's the line up for the week.

Tuesday, the Guiding Readers units will be on sale.  The bundle AND the individual units will be on sale.  Note: I'm also including my Guiding Reading units and Interactive Journals.

Wednesday, my Chit Chat units will be on sale.  I will put the fiction AND nonfiction ones up for sale.

Thursday,  In a Snap: No Prep Monthly Printables.  These include the bundles and the single monthly units.

Friday, a few of my faves!!  The Three Little Pigs   Three Billy Goats Gruff       Names unit

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Guiding Readers Bundle! Deal of the Day!

I know Deedee already said it, but it bears repeating. (or you could just read THIS POST).  

Through these units, my students were able to connect to texts like they never had before.


















Click on the picture to get your deal.  $46 OFF on this bundle! 




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It's almost time!!! Teacher-Blogger Meetup in Vegas!

It's almost that time again! The time that thousands of teachers and bloggers head to Vegas for the annual SDE and Teachers Pay Teachers Conferences. To say we were excited would be an understatement! 





This year will be our 4th annual Vegas Teacher-Blogger Meet Up. What started as a fun little way to get to meet other teachers and bloggers from across the country, has turned into the BIGGEST teacher-blogger meet up ever!

Here are the details you'll want to know:

  • The meet up will be on Wednesday, July 8th, and will start at 6:30pm at the Venetian in the Galileo room. 
  • RSVP on our Facebook event page {HERE}
  • You will need to download, edit, and bring your own name tag.  Download the file {HERE!} Below is an example of how your name tag should look. 


  • You do not need to be a blogger to attend. All teachers are invited and welcome to come! 
  • Please be ready to have fun, meet people, and make new friends! Make sure to post pictures to social media using the hashtag #2015vegasmeetup.
  • Our main sponsors for this event are SDE and TPT, although we have dozens more who will be donating prizes, swag, and other fun stuff! You do not want to miss out on these awesome prizes!
    • Here is a peek at this...

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Guiding Readers Questions and Answers

Last November Deedee and I had a conversation about her desire to do more with the books she was using for Read Alouds.  Her kids loved many of the books she was reading to them, and they wanted to hear them again and again.  She felt that she had a great foundation with writer's workshop (more on that later) but she wanted deeper connections and interactions with the texts that she was reading to her class.  So we created Guiding Readers.

What are Guiding Readers?
Guiding Readers started out as a "responding to literature" unit in our heads, but then we realized we needed to integrate phonics, interactive writing, reading comprehension, phonemic awareness and vocabulary in as well.

Vocabulary
Each week we pull a few words from our text to explore them deeper.

Heaping pile of snow

vocabulary work
Comprehension
I used these  Guiding Readers lessons in a whole group setting.   In my kindergarten classroom, I do the reading work (decoding the words) and my students do the thinking work.  
Everyone participates.   Working with a partner engages all of the students. 
Here we are putting the story cards in order, to help us retell the story.
Interactive Writing
Students are able to focus on the...

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Back to School Bash 2015


That's right, my friends! It's that time of year. Back to School Bash 2015 begins tomorrow where we will introduce you to all of the amazing prizes and sponsors. Then you can enter to win big beginning on July 31st. This year we have over $5,000 in back to school swag! No, no...you read that right! $5,000!!! People love them some teachers y'all! 

So join me and some of my blogging besties below for some amazing giveaways this week. It all begins tomorrow when we will introduce our 18 BASH BASKETS! Be sure you get yourself a head start and follow all of these amazing blogs and their instagram accounts. Believe me...this year you don't want to miss a thing! 

      
      
      
      
      

See you all tomorrow! 

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