Sunday, January 17, 2016

Center Captains

Hey Ya'll!  

I've gotten a few questions recently asking for tips on how to manage centers during Guided Reading. Some years, I scheduled our Independent Reading time block during a portion of our Guided Reading time. That way, my aide could circulate and read with kids while I was conducting one Guided Reading group. That worked, but just gave me enough time for 1 group. I liked to meet with 2 groups per day, so the other group I'd end up meeting with during our Literacy Center time. 

You all know. Managing Centers while teaching a Guided Reading group in Kindergarten CAN be crazy if you don't have the rules and routines in place. You really cannot be in 2, 3, or 10 places at once. The ownership has to be placed on the kids. But guess what? They are totally capable of being in charge. Let's be real... have you ever met a 5 year old that does not like being the boss? Didn't think so!

So. Center Captains. 


One thing that I literally COULDN'T run our literacy block and guided reading groups without.  When we begin center time, I chose a Center Captain for each group. They get to wear the fancy Center Captain badge. They wear it like a GOLD MEDAL. I swear. It's magical. The center captain is IN CHARGE of setting up the center. They get to grab the bin and set up for the group.  They make sure everyone is working with an inside voice. The Center Captain answers questions. The Center Captain keeps everyone on task. The Center Captain makes sure everyone cleans up right away when the bell rings. The Center Captain has an IMPORTANT job, ya'll. They are like the teacher of the group! They need to be on their A game! There is, of course, the warning that if the captain is not, for some crazy insane reason, doing their job, they will be replaced. It has happened but trust me, it does NOT happen often. No one, I mean NO ONE wants to give up that badge! 

 Center Captains

They fit into the standard sized badge holders. 

If you haven't seen yet, my 

This is the bundle of Level A, B, C, D, and E! 

 guided reading

It's been a labor of love, ya'll and I am SO glad to have it finished and in the hands of other teachers!  If you are hemming and hawing, read the REVIEWS from teachers like you. 
Seriously puts a huge smile on my face to see that this unit is helping so many teachers.  

Have a great week everyone! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Guided Reading Made Easy: LEVEL A

 guided reading, level a
Hey everyone!  Happy fall! 

Guided Reading.

For many teachers, the words make you crazy. (I will admit, I was one of those teachers.)
We never had a set program. We had some PD books, and some random resources that were adopted then dropped, old dusty manuals from the early 90s ...aaaand that was what I was working with. So, Guided Reading in my classroom was always a mismosh of things that I could pull together fast and easy.  One day while scrambling for appropriate activities for my guided reading groups, I knew that something had to give. I had to get organized. 

So here we are. 

 guided reading, level a

All organized goodness. 

Let me tell you what is in here. 

Lesson Plan for your LEVEL A Guided Reading Groups

Pages for you to plan and track every guided reading lesson

Setting up Guided Reading Notebooks

Setting up YOUR Guided Reading Binder/Teacher Organization

Setting up this lovely LEVEL A Activity Binder 

Information on Level A Readers: Their Books, Their Behaviors, and What You Can Do to Help Them

16 Different activities that you can use during the Extension part of your GR lesson that SPECIFICALLY target needs of Level A readers. 

ALL Activities come with step-by-step directions and teaching points to make it super easy for you.

Reading Strategy Posters
& more!

Really. All you need are the books. 

Here are some pictures of Level A's activities:

 guided reading

 guided reading

 guided reading

 guided reading, level a

 guided reading, level a

 guided reading, level a

 guided reading, level a

 guided reading, level a

 guided reading, level a

 guided reading, level a

Your teacher binder is the command center.

This is where all of the Guided Reading planning happens, where all of your lesson notes are stored, and where you can access your Flip Book of student activities to target the skill that you want to, when you need to. Because we all know you have approximately 1.4 seconds from the end of the reading part of your lesson to decide what they need to work on, pull it, and begin.
The Flip Book makes it easy for you to target, pick the activity, and get begin your targeted teaching! 

 guided reading, level a

 guided reading, level a

 guided reading, level a

 guided reading, level a

 guided reading, level a

There is SO much that will be right at your fingertips.

I hope that this pack helps to make your Guided Reading groups more organized, meaningful,  and strategic!

Click here to check out this Level A unit. It's for sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers Shop.

Other Levels are also now available!

Level B

Level C

Level D

Level E

Kindergarten Guided Reading BUNDLE A-E

Level F

Happy teaching. :)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Interactive Notebook Tips for Primary Kids

       Have you ever thought of giving an interactive notebook a try in your primary classroom, but the thought seems too overwhelming?  Do you have an interactive notebook resource, but are not sure how to get started and manage it effectively?  If your answer is yes, then this is for you!

       I have received many questions in the past few months from teachers looking to start interactive notebooking in their Kindergarten or First Grade classroom, but are unsure of how to begin and manage it all.   Many of you have asked for tips and tricks for using them with primary students.  I am here to share a few that I have learned through my years of using interactive notebooks in my kindergarten classroom. I hope you find some of these useful, and perhaps you will become an INB believer! 
(Disclaimer: All of these tips are things that I have found useful for me and my students. You may have found a sweet way that works for you. No problem, do your thang how you like it!)

Okay, first question I get is: 
(Yes, this was my actual teacher's notebook that I used. It was loved. #nophotoshoppinghere)

      For primary kids, composition books are the way to go. I feel strongly about this for many reasons. 1. The wiring in the spiral notebook gets unraveled and becomes a weapon. 2. See #1. 
3. The covers are sturdier. 4. They are a bit smaller. 

     This question has, hands-down, one answer and one answer only. (Again, in my book. Disclaimer.) What do you think? If you said glue STICK... BINGO! The liquid gets way too messy and causes the pages to stick together. No bueno.  However, I am warning you now... BE PREPARED to go through lots of glue sticks. And by lots, I mean lots. I always go for the big ones because the little ones seem to get eaten in 1.7 days and the big ones are good to go for a while. Now, if you can score a 6-pack of the little ones for $0.50 at Walmart... then by all means, go for what's cheaper. If you use glue sponges, ignore me because you may want to use those. 

       So, you are going to love these. I make them in the beginning of the year and the kids use them for everything that involves cutting. Just grab some paper bowls and write each child's name inside (not on the bottom) with a sharpie. The kids stack them and keep them at their tables and we pass them out whenever they cut something. Their name bowl serves as the "piece keeper." :)  They cut and their bowl holds the pieces. In my Kindergarten Math INB, many of the problems are shown correctly so that you can use them for differentiation (just cut off a couple of the numbers) or for modeling, or for pre-teaching a skill. The students cut them and use their name bowl to mix the pieces up. No one has a heart attack because they can't find a piece, Joey's pieces don't get mixed up with Suzie's pieces, no little stinker just cuts one piece at a time and glues it directly into their notebook, and it keeps everything nice and neat. Just like it always is in a Kindergarten or First grade classroom, right? ;)

      This is great daily practice in number writing, gives you a lead-in to talk about how the months of the year are numbered, and is just generally helpful in order to keep record of when entries were completed. It adds to the fun when you bring out the notebooks during parent conferences to show student growth from the beginning of the year.

     This tip is golden. Grab some thick-ish ribbon, cut about a 10-inch piece per student, and use a hot glue gun to glue onto the back cover of the notebook. Teach the kids how to place the ribbon over the top of the unused pages to bookmark their spot. 

(I scored this awesome tape measure ribbon at Walmart)

Practice it.  This will prevent your kid from spending 5 minutes flipping through pages of the notebook to find a blank page, and will also help to keep their entries sequential. I usually don't glue these in until the 2nd week or so of using our INBs.  I want the kids to get then hang of how the notebooks work and how we use them before I throw this in there. They feel like big kids using bookmarks, too!

This tip is great for when something interrupts your notebook time or a student doesn't finish.  Tape a ziplock baggie onto the back cover of the notebook (under the ribbon).  Use this as a little secure spot to store pieces until your student is ready to finish their entry!

     Coloring. "Sometimes we get to it sometimes we don't. If we don't get to color, we will live." We repeat this often the first few weeks of notebooking. (Although, wait. I totally go against that motto the first few weeks of using our INB's. I give them plenty of time to color then.  This starts a little later after they become pros.)  :)  Coloring is usually the time filler when I decide to go around and do a quick check to see who has grasped the concept and who has not.  I like to give them all sufficient/reasonable time to finish their entry, so they can color if they finish and we haven't called time.  And, let's face it. Sometimes we have 2 minutes to kill before special and you don't feel like breaking out a horse and pony show. Let them color. They like it and it works their little hand muscles. Sometimes my kids would color in their notebooks during free time. They like them that much. 

      This is a total teacher sanity-saver tip. Do the work upfront. You will thank me later. Pre-copy your units. Trim around the edges and paperclip them into class sets. Get yourself some empty baby wipes containers, and file them. I started with Unit 1 but them found that I wanted them all copied so that I could pull from different units if I wanted to. So, spend an hour and copy them ALL. Line up your baby wipes containers on an empty shelf in your teacher supply closet and stare. It is a beautiful, organized sight, and you will feel like super teacher. You are super teacher. 

        For my last tip, I want to reassure you that you CAN use Interactive Notebooks successfully with your kindergartners, your students CAN use them efficiently, and they WILL quickly become a favorite part of your math block. Begin the first few weeks by modeling every step; reading the "I can" statement, finding the next blank page with the bookmark, how to cut, putting the pieces in the bowl and mixing them up, where the "I can" statement goes, everything. They will get it and it will be an awesome tool and you will be so glad that you took the leap. 

     Now, shameless plug! If you are looking for a notebook to get started, I would love for you to check out either my Kindergarten or First Grade MATH Interactive Notebook sets that contain daily entries for the entire school year. I promise that the time your students spend on these will be 5 minutes that are totally fun and worthwhile! If you are not sure, click the link and check out what other teachers have to say about them.  I would LOVE to hear how INBs are working for you and your students! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Try it Free Tuesday!

Hey everyone!  I am SO excited to be featured today on the lovely Miss Kindergarten's blog for her weekly series, Try it Free Tuesday.

Guess what?!  I am giving away a sample from my Kindergarten Interactive Math Notebook. If you ever have thought about trying it out, today is the day! You can download the freebie for one day only, so make sure to click the image below to head on over there!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What do I do on the first day of FIRST Grade?

I'm back with another 1st day post! I received such great feedback on my First day of Kindergarten Lesson Plans, that I put together this First Grade set!

So, let's get down to it... whether you've been teaching 1 year or 20 years, we all ask ourselves the same question leading up to Back to School...

first day of first grade

Are you a teacher who mentally blocks out the beginning of the school year (namely, the very first day of school?) It's all shades of crazy that you try to forget, right?! If you are like me, the only way to keep yourself sane is by planning out your day... minute-by-minute. It helps to keep you on target with your goals for the first day (getting to know your students, getting them to know each other, and most importantly, teaching the procedures, rules and expectations of your classroom), and keeps the day flowing smoothly. 

So... your room is ready! 
Now what?!

To help make our lives easier, I have put together this easy-to-use pack of detailed, (and more importantly) realistic lesson plans and activities for the first day of first grade. Whatever type of population you teach this pack will be right for you. The day focuses on getting to know each other, learning procedures, and allows for you to get a snapshot of where your students are academically.

first grade, first day of first grade

You will find that there are 100% EDITABLE lesson plans, lists of routines and procedures to teach, photos, printables, attention getters, and more!

Thanks so much! I hope you have a great school year.