Friday, November 30, 2012

I HATE SHARPENING PENCILS!!!

Sharpening pencils is the classroom chore I despise the most. I hate when the wood splinters, I hate when it "canoes"-ya know, lead on one side, wood on the other, I hate when the lead breaks and falls out and you have to start again, I hate how expensive pencil sharpeners are, how loud they are, and how they break down every school year. I hate old fashioned crank style because the compartment always falls off and shavings go everywhere!!!! Ugh, wait a minute, let me tell you how I really feel. :) ha.
The other thing I dislike about sharpening pencils is the fact that it always seems I have to do it more and more as the year goes on. I mean for real, what are my kids doing- eating them?! I'll sharpen like, 40 pencils and it always seems that by afternoon I've got kids telling me there are none left in the happy can. Also, every year I find kids breaking pencils ON PURPOSE just so they can go get a sharper one. I catch them arguing over whose pencil is whose, who has the shorter/longer/sharper/bigger eraser... it's enough to drive you mad. I've tried tons of management systems: writing names on them, rewarding good pencil keeping, etc, etc but it always ends up being more work for me. So, I just deal. I would love to hear your ideas for pencil management. Just promise me you won't tell me you have a classroom aide who "takes care of it" because I might have to secretly hate you, too!

Lori- over at teachingwithloveandlaughter.blogspot.com is having a give away for a pretty cool sounding pencil sharpener. I've heard great things about it and I'm dying to win this little contest. Check out her post by clicking the picture below:

I also found this great freebie and I'm thinking of trying it next year (or maybe after winter break):
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Winning-the-Pencil-War-An-Effective-Management-System

Thanks for letting me vent. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Future is so Bright!!

We just finished up our community helpers unit and I made this little Pinterest inspired photo collage for my classroom. I WISH I could show you their faces because man, did they turn out cute!!! I plan to post more about the unit and the lessons SOON. This holiday weekend has just been way too busy!! I hope you are all looking forward to tomorrows Teachers Pay Teachers "Cyber Monday" (and Tuesday) Sale as much as I am. I've got my wishlist updated and I'm hoping to score some major deals. I'm running a sale on top of the sale you can pick up some of my stuff for dirt cheap! Here's a quick overview of some of the new things I've loaded.

Community Helpers and Careers Mega Unit
 Community Helpers and Careers Reading Comprehension Pages
 Reader's Workshop Routine Pack
 Communities Unit
Happy shopping everyone!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Response to Intervention

Where to be begin? My momma always said, "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all!" So, I will leave AIMSweb and my district's "system" for interventions and RtI out of this. *rolls eyes* Can I get a virtual high five if you've had it up to HERE with people who have no idea what it's like to be a classroom teacher designing programs and telling you how and what you should be doing in your classroom?! Okay- thank you, moving right along.
I was looking for an SIMPLE, QUICK, and FUN way to assess my kids for some simple fluency goals. Every day I meet with two groups during reader's workshop and one group during math workshop. I wanted to have a quick warmup that would practice fluency for all of these groups but I also wanted to include data, so I would have some way to track their growth. Thus, my RtI Boards were born.  I'm going to try and be as clear as possible about how I use these. Bear with me and let me know if you have any questions in the comments section.
I made 7 different boards: Letter Naming, Letter Sound, Non-Sense Word, Word Family, Sight Words, Number Identification 1-120, and Number Pattern boards. I copied 6 copies of each board onto different colored card stock and then laminated them. I made 6 of each because, in my class of 24, 6 to a group seems to be the magic number. :/
For reader's workshop I meet with two groups a day. The first group I meet with is a strategy group. We usually do some sort of reading strategy as a focus or word work.  My second group is a guided reading group where I do your typical guided reading lesson. However, for both of these groups, I now begin with an RtI board warm up. Depending on the level of my group or the focus of that days lesson I choose an RtI board. The little girl above is working on letter naming. I pass out a board to each student and have them use a pointer, or their finger, to find one of the shapes down the side. The student above is working on the "sunshine row". As a group we read the row together as quickly as we can. Then, depending on time, I give the group 2 minutes to independently practice. I may assign a row (like the "flower row" which is all bs and ds) or I'll let them choose their own. I use these 2 minutes to listen and monitor or work on something else with one of the students in the group.
Once a month I set a timer and assess each student to see how far they can read on any given board. I don't assess each student on every single board. I usually choose one or two to focus on. For instance the little girl above is working on letter sound fluency and letter naming fluency. Once she is successful with those I may begin non-sense words with her or sight words. I keep these handy graphing sheets right in my assessment notebook and remind kids of their goals from time to time-"Lets see if you can get all the way to the snowflake this time!" There are two versions of every graph included in the packet. I know some schools don't follow our Sept-June schedule and I know that, in some instances, you may want to progress monitor more than once a month. I have included blank copies of the graphs as well.
These RtI boards come in handy for other things, too. I'm sure you can all relate to having one of your groups interrupted. Maybe the phone rings, or a student needs you, or someone shows up at your door... Now that my students know how to use these boards I keep them stored right in their "group bins" along with some sand timers. They know that if Mrs. Wheat is busy they can grab a board and begin timing one another or work independently on it. They can also be used in centers.  I have the sight word boards and some pointers and sand timers in one of my center tubs. My kids love timing themselves and seeing how fast they can read their sight words.
The sight word boards correlate with my Sight Word Study Guides Unit on TpT. I have updated that unit to include the boards and graphs so if you already own it, be sure to download it again.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the example below.
They're great for homework, independent practice, morning work, peer tutoring, etc. Each study guide covers six words. There are also flash cards, assessment pages, and now RtI Boards included in the packet.
Now for FREEBIES!!  Yay! I recently reached 50 followers on Teachers Pay Teachers and it made me pretty happy. I got into this whole thing for the sheer fun of it and I never imagined it would turn into this little side business. I so enjoy posting new items and keeping this little blog.  It has certainly made me a better teacher!  So to thank those of you who follow me, both here and on TpT, click the pictures below to snag your freebies!

I hope that you will check out my latest product on TpT and an oldie but a goodie. :) My kiddos are still working on our Communities Unit and our Community Helpers Unit so I'll be back soon with plenty of pictures and more to say about these two new units. :) Thanks for reading. I'd love to read your comments and hear about your experiences with RtI.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mock Election and New Stuff!

This is going to be short and sweet. My classroom observation is this week, report cards are due Thursday, and I'm working on a huge community helpers unit! Yikes!
I wanted to share the results of the mock election we held on Friday. I used Teacher to the Core's election day freebie and LOVED it!
Here's my little loves voting! They loved filling out the ballots and slipping them into the box. Everyone was very careful about keeping their vote a secret. 
And here are our results. 17 to 3, Obama. I had to throw out three ballots because they marked both candidates. Honest mistake. :) You should go download this freebie if you're looking for something quick and easy for election day! My kids loved it.

Yesterday I received my order from Amazon and I'm super excited about its contents:

 I got these "Project Popperz" on recommendation from one of my favorite bloggers. Abby from The Inspired Apple. She swears by these for making beautiful anchor charts. I'm certainly not as good an artist as she is but I figured I'd give them a try. I'm sick of chisel tip markers. These have a nice, blunt, felt tip. *squeal*
Fluency has been a focus of mine these past few weeks. I'm currently working on some activities for letter/sound flunecy, sight word fluency, and math fact fluency. I got these to start using in centers and I can't wait to intriduce them to my kids tomorrow! I think they'll be a hit!
 Bean counters, just because! I mean who doesn't need more counters? No, but honestly, it's because I found a freebie on pinterest that used these counters so I had to have them. :)
Last but not least I just uploaded my Neighborhoods and Communities Unit to TpT. My kids are still working on it so I don't have any classroom pictures to share. Hope fully next week. But it's up if you'd like to check it out. 

Have a great week everyone! And happy NO-MORE-ELECTION-ADS to all of you!