Friday, July 3, 2015

Literacy Stations with Purpose

Happy Summer teaching friends! I hope everyone is enjoying their time off. I love Summer! It gives me time to reflect on the year before and think about the year coming up. What worked? What do I want to change? What do I need to get ready? Well, one of the BIG ROCKS that I want to tackle is station organization and planning.

I want what my students are working on, while I am working with small groups, to have meaning and purpose! I don't want to grab something at the last minute and throw it in a station. I want to have a PLAN. I want to know what my on level kids, below level kids, and my above level kids will be practicing.

So, my first step is to decide which stations I want to use in my room. Now, I have gone back and forth from Debbie Diller style work stations to Daily 5. This year, I am morphing the two. I don't need to make one style fit. I can take what I have learned from both and put them to work for me and my Kinders! It's Ok! There are no D5 or LWS police coming to get me.

I needed to give my very old station set a major facelift!! I love bright colors! I like polka dots, chevron, and stripes.....I don't discriminate. I love all patterns and love mixing them. HOWEVER, I tend to have a method to my madness.

The one thing that I loved about DD LWS (Debbie Diller Literacy Work Stations) was how she introduced and practiced each station. I think to have station/center success, your students must know what they can do, and what is expected at each station.

The first station that I introduce is the ABC Station. Within the first few weeks of school, I do a baseline assessment to see where my students are. How many letters do they already know? How many sounds do they know? ABC is the easiest station to introduce because you can use ABC books, ABC puzzles, ABC games to start with. Once you establish some station routines, then you can introduce specific learning activities.

I will use this sheet to help me plan what I will use in each station and how I can differentiate for each of my students.

My teammates and I sat down and talked about where our kids should be each month. We used our district and state standards to help guide us. It took a long time, but it will be so worth it. NOW, we can go in and fine tune what we should have in our stations and what we can be teaching in small groups.  We use Reading Street so we needed to align with that also.

For the first 26 days of school....ok, well...maybe NOT the first couple of days.... If you have taught Kindergarten before then you know that it is liking herding cats those first few weeks days! ;-) We do a brief introduction of all 26 letters. We introduce a letter a day. We talk about the upper case letter, the lower case letter, the animal that goes with it, the sound, and then teach the action that goes with it.

This is our ABC Chart. You can download that for FREE by clicking on the chart.

The phonemic awareness portion of our map will be included in my morning message and word study station.

I hope to have monthly sets for: Morning Meetings, Word Study and ABC Stations.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Word Work CVC Puzzles

I have posted a few pictures of my word work baskets on Instagram and Facebook. People have asked, "What do you put in those baskets?" Well, it's waaaay too much to post all at once, but I will try to post a little each week. :-)

One of my struggles that I had with word work was trying to keep up. One, just keep up with ink and laminating. Two, changing them out each month and having to explain what to do in each one. So, that is when I took a look at what I was having them do and what I needed them to know. I wanted my word work stations to be meaningful and purposeful.

I need my students to read sight words, work on different levels of phonemic awareness and decode CVC words. I was creating way too much work for myself! I wanted to create activities that I could teach once and they would be able to do all year long...INDEPENDENTLY!

The first activity that my students do are CVC puzzles. There are so many ways that I can use this. I always, always, always...introduce activities in my small groups! We play it and practice it before it goes into a station. You can store the puzzle pieces many ways. I keep mine in these fabulous plastic crayon boxes from Wal-Mart. You can get them for about $1. You can keep them all in one, or you can put the three pieces in their own separate containers. It's up to you! If you do that, then I would suggest marking them somehow. Maybe with a colored dot on the back of the piece and the same colored dot on the container that you want it to go back in.

As we introduce a new vowel, I always go over all of the words/pictures that we will work on! I try to use them in my morning messages also. We say the picture name, listen for the beginning sound and then listen for the "chunk" at the end. For your on level and higher students, they could complete this on their own. For your students that still are struggling with decoding CVC words, I would maybe have another set of the puzzles and only cut the picture apart from the word and leave the word together. This activity doesn't really need a recording sheet. You could have them write the words they create on a magnadoodle or a dry erase board. It's ok to NOT have them have a piece of paper showing what they did. :-)

I teach how to use these puzzles one time. I can differentiate for my students by choosing how to cut apart the puzzles.  I simply change out or add a new vowel to the basket when we are ready!

You can get the individual vowel sets or you can purchase the bundle in my TpT store.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Teachers Get Organized {January 2015} Teacher's Desk and a Give Away

 Wellllll.....did you get your desk organized? I did too!! I am so happy when I come in to my classroom in the mornings and there are no piles on my desk! It meant: getting rid of things that I was hanging onto {for no reason}; having "a place" for everything; and making time everyday to make sure it stayed that way!

January your challenge was your desk and your teacher planner/organizer. I am putting the finishing touches on my updated planner TODAY! :-)

I love reading blogs...not just teacher blogs. I like to read about...healthy recipes, home decorating ideas, fun trips, and of course blogs on how to be organized :-) One common thing that I found on some of my favorites was...have a command station. A landing place for everything! So, I figured...why not have a landing place for everything in my classroom?! Off to pinterest I went!!

I found this pin! What makes it even it is from one of my good friends Miss Kindergarten!

I created my own teacher file! The files that I use inside are: To Copy, To File, To Laminate, To Make, To Send Home, and Next Week. I have a system for each of those files.

To Copy-As soon as I find something that I want to use, then I print one and put in this file. We have PLC/plan time every Wednesday. I copy everything that I need for the entire next week on Wednesday afternoon.

To File-I am very much a digital person. I keep most of my things on my computer...trying to eliminate...THE PILES! So, usually the stuff that needs filed are things that I receive from staff meetings or staff development.

To Laminate- I have parent volunteers that come throughout the week. I try to have something laminated and ready for them to cut out. I keep it in this file and turn it all in on either Monday or Thursday.

To Make- This file is more for patterns/art projects that need to be made.

To Send Home-This file gets used a TON :-) I send something home almost everyday!

Next Week-I keep printed plans from specific units that I use in here. For example, Deanna and Deedee's Reading units and writing units.

There are certain things that I use/deal with everyday. I needed a "home" for those things.
We participate in a nightly reading program. We partner with a local baseball team. They read for 5-10 minutes every night and color in one baseball. For each sheet (color coded) they turn in, they make it to a base. Once they make it to home base, then they receive a free baseball ticket. The kids love it. These come in so randomly...I needed them handy and easy for me to keep track of. The top tray holds all of the new sheets, the middle tray holds the completed ones, and the bottom tray is for any other forms that I am collecting (parent teacher conference forms, field trip, etc)

I love, love, love my Erin Condren calendar! I write everything on this calendar! Meetings, birthdays, volunteers, assemblies, etc. I want to be able to "SEE" what is going on that week. Do I write in 2 places...yup! I sure do! I keep it here AND in my personal planner!

Also from Erin my desk pad!! I try to write my to do lists on here.

When I started to organize my desk area...I didn't change much at first. I was asking myself: where are the piles coming from? When are they coming?

When the kids come in first thing in the morning...I was getting notes from parents, lunch money, sight word lists ready to be tested, star reader notes, you name it!! LOL! So, I needed a place for the students to put things that they had for ME. Now, they know where everything goes!!

The bottom shelf houses extra snacks that parents donate. The middle shelf is our snack basket. The top shelf is where all of the paper stuff goes! I call the sight words from our Reading Street program, Star Words. Each week, I send home the decodable reader with a note...students need to read that book two times to an adult. Both student and parent sign it and send it back. Those go in the little white basket. They receive one STARburst for each Star Reader note that they return. The paper trays are for any other papers that they need to give to me. It has helped so much!!

I also needed a place for their lunch boxes and their Friday Folders.

Their lunch boxes go in the bucket. Their Friday Folders go in the red crate. Now, most of my room is done in bright neon colors. EXCEPT for my desk area. I am a HUGE Husker fan and a friend made all of the cute crafty Husker things for me. I HAD to have them in my room. I know that it doesn't really "match" the rest of my room, but it's ok :-)

Inside of my desk! Now, this took some time. I had stuff in there that I hadn't touched in 10 years...seriously. So, I revamped my three drawers!!
Top drawer holds any gift cards that I may have, thank you cards, and pictures. My top right drawer holds everything else! LOL! HOWEVER, it does look organized right now. I got that fancy little organizer from Wal Mart. My bottom drawer holds all of my "notebooks"

Now for MY STUFF :-) I am a Diet Dr Pepper Junkie...I admit's a problem in my life, but it is soooo good. I have gotten better about drinking water and THEN my Diet DP. I have my own refrigerator and microwave.

The mini drawers house all of my personal things. I basically have a little drawer for everything :-) For nail stuff, lip stuff, headache stuff, feminine stuff, lotions, sunglasses, EVERYTHING! I keep my water cup here. Also, my fabulous pencil sharpener that the kids are NOT allowed to use. A little cup for all of the paper clips that I take off everyday. I return these to our workroom every Friday.  My stapler and my 3 hole puncher.

Behind my desk area I have a large shelf. I will be honest...this area is still a work in progress! BUT BELIEVE's better than what it was!

This is the home for my radio...I NEED music. I play it before school, during plan time, and after school, my daily organizers. I place all of the materials that I need for the day in those bins.  The small chevron container houses all of my send home decodable readers. We usually have 5 or 6 I wanted a place for those. The bright bins on the first shelf...those hold my guided reading books that are from our reading series. The 3 drawer bins on the next 2 shelves house materials that I need for small groups! I always make a "wish list" of all of these materials. I give it out at open house, conferences and include it in my newsletters :-)

HEY!! I was looking for that banana yesterday afternoon! DANG IT!! Sigh...oh well! :-) LOL! It is what it is, right?!

I also use an Erin Condren Lesson planner. I forgot to snap a few pictures of mine!! Oh no!! SORRY!! I accidentally left mine at school. I will try to snap a few and share on FB or Insta this week.

I really do like it! I haven't quite decided if I will get one again next year. :-)

If you are a blogger, then I would love for you to link up and share your desk area and your planners!
If you do, then please include this button and link back to this post. Thank you!!

Let's have a give away!! I love Erin Condren and her products help me stay organized!! I want to share with you! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Teachers Getting Organized 2015 {How To Participate}

I am so excited about this! Thank you all for your responses...either by email, Facebook, Insta, or commenting on my blog post yesterday. It sounds like we are ALL ready to get organized...and NEED it :-)

Pinterest! If you are not on Pinterest, then you simply must get yourself pinning! Pinterest is definitely my "go-to" now. I used to Google everything. Now, I go to Pinterest and type in the search bar and find many options of what I am looking for! Soooo many great teacher pinners out there and great collaborative boards!

Facebook! I love Facebook. I think it is the easiest way for us to "interact" with each other. We can share pictures and comment back and forth! I will try to create a post each morning and we can keep adding to it throughout the day...either with links, photos, questions, or just comments!

Instagram! I will admit...I am new to Instagram. I am learning as I go. I loooove looking at pictures. I am very visual!! Instagram is perfect for anyone and everyone to be able to participate! If you are out shopping and find a simply must have for our challenge of the month..then post it to Instagram!

If you have any questions, then please feel free to email me! I can't wait to work with all of you!! Make sure you follow my Facebook page!! Today I will be making posts for all of you to leave your info so we can all follow each other!! 

Here is our button for January!!

Happy Organizing!! :-)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Teachers Get Organized in 2015

Ahhh....New Year's...the time for new beginnings. Time for reflecting on the year soon to pass and look at the year ahead with hope and excitement! As teachers, we are ALWAYS looking for ways to be more organized! How can we leave at the end of the day and not have a pile or multiple piles, on our desk, on our small group table, wherever we can pile them really?! 

I think that we start with GREAT intentions, but then life happens and we get distracted. We go into our classroom after a long break and start tossing, piling, and then we end up with a bigger mess than when we started. Eeeeekkk!! If you read my blog or follow my Facebook page and Instagram, then you know that I am also on a weight loss journey. I kind of look at this the same way. I can't go into this making extreme changes. I need to be realistic and set myself up for success and not doom myself for failure. 

So, I have decided that in 2015, I will take one area and completely overhaul and organize myself. I will FINISH this BEFORE I start on another. I can do that in one month, right?! lol! We don't want too many things happening at once. I hope that you will follow along and join me on this organizing journey!!  I LOVE looking at other classrooms. We can share ideas and support each through blogs, Facebook, Instagram and even Pinterest!

On Facebook, we can discuss with each other our ideas...what is working, what isn't working, where did you find THAT?! I can always post there what each month's challenge will be. 

Live Love Laugh Kindergarten Facebook

On Instagram, we can share photos...before photos, during, after, etc! As teachers, we never have enough time to visit other teacher's classrooms...well, we can do it through Instagram! On Instagram, use the hashtag #TeachersGetOrganized2015 and tag me so I can follow you. You can tag me by typing @LiveLoveLaughKindergarten.

Live Love Laugh Kindergarten Instagram

On Pinterest, we can share products that we love to help us organize!!

Live Love Laugh Kindergarten Pinterest

Here is what I am thinking so far. This is definitely not set in stone :-) 

I hope you will join me on my organization quest!! :-)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Get Fit{bit} in 2015!

It's that time of year again...time to make those New Years Resolutions. I am sure getting fit/losing weight is in your resolution list somewhere. I know that it is always on mine! :-) 

This time of year is so difficult. I don't know about your holiday get togethers, but ours are ALWAYS centered around food....and not just food, but GOOD food. Some of my favorites! It's so hard for me to ear in's soooo good! 

I have been a roller coaster of a weight loss journey myself! In high school, I was a runner. I ran cross country and track. I loved it. Well, then life happened. I had kids and my body to you know where in a hand basket :-) I am an extremely competitive person. So, not being up to jump right back in and run 5 miles and run it quickly, was extremely difficult for me. I have finally given myself permission to NOT be the same person I was 25 years ago. I want to get back to running again. I really did love it. I think that I can love it again. I am starting slow. 

I have a treadmill at home. I am starting out just by walking for 45 minutes. It's a quick walk,but a walk none the less. I want to walk a set time. My plan is to increase my speed each week by at least .5 mph. 

Now, for the healthy eating part! There are so many diets, shakes, supplements, that it can make your head spin! I have found that Weight Watchers works the best for me! You can either join a local meeting, or you can do it online. I have done both. If you can find a meeting that you can connect with your leader and they make it fun...go for it. If you just can't find the time, then do it online. Their site is fantastic. They have so many helpful articles and now they added 24/7 live chat support. I love it!!
If you are already an online weight watchers member...find me!! I would love to friend some fellow teachers on their weight loss journey. 

Weight Watchers is great because I don't feel like there are any forbidden foods. I am allowed so many points each day. If I want to have a piece of pumpkin pie, then I just account for those points. That may mean that I eat more fruits and veggies for the rest of the day, but it's ok. There is not one single type of food that you are NOT allowed to eat. Which I love. Also, you don't have to buy the WW brand of foods that you see at the store. I do...but it's because they are very good! 

Some of my favorite WW foods are:

A couple of my blogging friends and I decided to give away a Fitbit to help you start off the new year right! You can enter below. Make sure you visit my bloggin' buddies for other chances to win!!

  Sharing Kindergarten
Kindergarten Smiles

Fun In First
Kreative in Kinder