Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bittersweet News

Hey all! I'm back with some bittersweet news! I'm so excited and happy to announce that I'm finally moving to Nashville to live closer to my family and teach Pre-k! I'm psyched to go back to Pre-K and have some fun with the little ones! I will miss teaching K, my AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, PHENOMENAL team and my Smith family.

Today I turned in my macbook, the rest of my keys and said my last goodbyes. I've been waiting to post because I'm not sure if I'll be posting anymore on this blog or not.

I had to leave my ginormous, beautiful classroom with the perfect furniture behind. <3
I had to leave 4 amazing, talented, sweet women I can call my forever friends <3.
Ashleigh- We've been neighbors for the past 5 years and I have loved watching you becoming an amazing mommy to your sweet, adorable boys! I admire you so much friend!
Amanda- I know you will be amazing at your new school and I hope you're so happy there! I will miss your sense of humor and your baby is such a lucky little girl! <3 You are making a wonderful momma!
Bethany- I can't even begin to tell you how much I will treasure the memories of our Zumba nights, walks around town, quoting Madea movies, laughing so hard our bellies hurt and all the random times we hung out outside of school. You have been such a wonderful friend to me!
Candy- It was so hard to hug you goodbye. You have been such a great friend and I appreciate your wisdom, kindness and the comfort you provided on the hard days. Our team was (and IS) so lucky to have you. I will miss you so much!!!
And to Rebecca and the teacher they hire in my place- You are going to love being part of such a wonderful team! <3 I can't wait to hear about all the fun you guys have next year!

5 car loads of my teaching stuff home and lots of tears...

But NOW for the happy.... I could not be more thrilled about moving to Nashville, teaching Pre-K and being so close to my family.

I get to spend all summer with these beauties I call my nieces.

Not only the summer, but now because I will live so much closer to them (like hoping less than a 20 minute drive)  I can come over any day of the week, rather than just on the weekends!

I'm so blessed to have been part of such an AMAZING school that has been a SCORE prize winner, a Reward school 3 years in a row that is doing what is best for the kids. I will miss seeing my past students' every day, but I know they are in good hands!

I love this picture collage Ashleigh made me... I will treasure it forever friend! <3

I know this is a sappy post, but I really hope I am able to post some fun Pre-K stuff next year. So excited for my next adventure! Happy Summer Break friends!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

I have, Who has #s to 20 freebie!

Three posts in one weekend??? Yeah! I come with another free download for you today! This is something I put together after I taught all the numbers to 20 to review. My kids were obsessed and we played it 3 different times and they wanted to play it again and again!

 This game could also be used throughout the year for a quick review game for identifying numbers to 20! I also have 2 recording sheets for numbers 1-10 and 11-20 you could use in a center or whole group after teaching numbers to 20. They can be used to identify numbers, count and write the numeral. I hope you can find this useful in your classroom!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Counting On Winter Penguin Freebie!

Hey ya'll! So I made this back in December to practice counting on with my kids! I ended up being really sick and having a sub use these, but she did a great job! I just printed them off onto cardstock and laminated them. Then had the sub use a dry erase marker and model counting on from a given number a few times. Then I had her call on kids (by pulling popsicle sticks with the kids names on them) to come up and complete a counting on card on the document reader. If a child got stuck, they could reference the 100s chart, calendar, number line, or the class could help them if they wanted! The sub said they had a great time with it! (Click on the little square with an arrow, to have the screen pop up so you can download it. Let me know if it doesn't work!)

Once they had plenty of practice whole group, I made this recording sheet for my student's to complete for independent work! (I made them 2 to a page to save paper, which is why there are two of the same sheet in this document.)  The kids loved having it half size b/c it was little like them! =) I did not print the recording sheet in color, just in black and white b/c lets be honest, it probably gets tossed as soon as their parents get it! Am I right? =)

You could even pop this into a math station too for more practice! 

Be sure to leave me a comment if you like them! I'd love to post some more freebies I've created lately if ya'll like this! =)
Have a great rest of the weekend!

Assessing in Kindergarten

Assessing in Kindergarten... makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. Can I get an AMEN?! I'm sure some of you may have heard of and see posts about ESGI. I've used ESGI for the past four years and I don't know where I would be without it! I thought I would share how I use it and how it saves me so much precious instructional time! We all know how time-consuming it can be to assess students in kindergarten because most of it is one-on-one.

Here is a sample of one of my students' report cards. This is one of 4 pages of our report card. This is the foundational page that we update EVERY 3 weeks because we also make copies of it to attach to the progress report. So you can get a little glimpse of how much I have to assess for ONE student and how long that can take.

Before ESGI, I would show my student a flashcard and have to find it on the report card, then mark if they mastered it or not. (Then I'd have to retest all the letters b/c who has time to sort out the cards they already mastered? NOT ME!) It literally took me FOREVER to assess... I did the same thing with sounds, popcorn words and numbers.

So now let me show you how I use ESGI to save a bunch of time! When you log in and click on a student's name, this is an example of what you would see under the "Pre-reading" tab. To begin a test, you simply click on "Test."

Since this student only missed one lowercase letter, it will only ask her for the letter she missed. Once she masters identifying the lowercase "d" (which she called b), I won't have to give her this test anymore. 

When you are finished assessing, you can click on "Test Result Letters" and this is an example of one of my students. I don't send this letter home, but I do use it to keep track of mastery to copy on to the report card I showed you in the first picture.

Another great tool that I love is you can print off "flashcards" with the letters/sounds they missed. (You can also do this with any other skill you assess on here such as rhyming words, popcorn words, etc.) The child's name would print in place of the blue boxes on each card, so they don't get mixed up with another student's.

One of my FAVORITE tools is the bar graph, I use this mainly for popcorn words. I can easily see what words my students are struggling with and it gives me a starting point for reviewing and reteaching words in small groups.

Here is another screen shot of when I click on a student's name under "Reading" for the popcorn words assessment.

Some other great benefits: YES! YOU CAN CREATE YOUR OWN ASSESSMENTS! I use ESGI mainly to assess: identifying upper case and lower case letters, naming letter sounds, reading popcorn words, identifying numbers to 20 and producing rhyming words. (The rest of the skills I assess I have to use assessments given to me by the school system). 

But some other skills that you can assess that are ready-made: identifying beginning, medial and ending sounds, identifying blends, blending sounds to make words, reading CVC words, addition, subtraction and shapes.

My awesome team-mate Ashleigh loads on the popcorn words each week so we don't have assess words that aren't taught yet. She's awesome and it saves us so much time to test little by little!

Any questions? Feel free to ask below! =)

The great thing about ESGI is that they give you a 60 day trial to use so you can get a true feel to see if it will benefit you in your classroom. Click on the link for a great video and to start your free trial!

If you use the promo code B2195 when you purchase, you will receive a discount of $159 (regular pricing -$199) for the initial year! So what are you waiting for? Go check it out! =)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Guess who's posting!

Oh my, it has been too long since I last posted! I made it one of my goals to try and post AT LEAST once a month. Is this pitiful that this post shows the only pictures I have taken since my last one?! I've been good about taking pics of my kids during our most memorable days: First day of K, Decorating our Gingerbread Man cookies, With their favorite book, Checking out their first library book, and our 100th day!
Here's a FEW pics of what we have been up to this January!
 I introduced this fun number game (from Growing Kinders!) to my students in a small group and challenged them when they finished: "Show me the number 2, as many ways as you can." So you see the kids using tally marks, numerals, dots, ten frames, drawings, and number words. (We worked on that A TON at the beginning of the year!) 

A fun idea I got from Tara at Little Minds at Work. Working on spelling sight words with magnetic letter tiles. These words were in their leveled readers, which we highlights in their paper versions to take home and keep.Ya'll- if you have not checked out her blog post on guided reading in kindergarten, you MUST!!!! It's full of genius ideas!

Anyone notice my beautiful new kidney bean table??? Thanks to donorschoose, I finally have one and got rid of the old, ginormous rectangular one. YAY! I love my small group area now!
I even got some adorable new baskets from the Dollar Tree and labeled each group to keep our leveled readers, games, etc. in. This helps keep me organized and transition from group to group easily! (I meet with every child, every day, for 15 minutes).
I got this ADORABLE retelling chart idea from Simple Second Grade.

Last week, we practiced retelling using key details with the following winter books:
(click on each picture to go to the link)

If you haven't read Diamond in the Snow, you need to find it. My mom bought it for me a long time ago, but if you click on the photo below, it will take you to the author's website. It's such cute story, and my littles totally giggled at parts and we connected it to our ice experiment when we learned all about matter the week before!
We also read a book called "Snow" from the Journey's series, but I didn't have any luck finding a picture on google.

On that Friday, I assessed my student's in a few ways. I had them practice retelling me a story we read all week (orally) and I took notes on who struggled with the skill on a checklist/grid I made with all my student's names.

Then I gave them each this quick little assessment to complete in small groups. My kids couldn't read all it, so I made sure I would read one part at a time to them. Then I'd have them place it where they thought it would go before the glued it. In kindergarten, this skill is with prompting and support- so I made note of any student who needed more help/corrections. I made sure to have them glue it on the right spot. My low babies struggled with this, so I asked them to orally tell me "Who were the characters?" (and as they named them, I would give them the piece that said that character's name.) I did the same with setting and major events. This seemed to help them be more successful! 

So I'm proud to say that WITH PROMPTING AND SUPPORT- all my babies mastered the skill of retelling! =) 

Now lets get onto some math fun. We had a blast celebrating the 100th day of school! My kids thought it was SO COOL to trade in our 10 towers of 10 for a block of 100! They literally went "OOoo! WOW!"
Hip! Hip! Hooray it's our 100th day! My kids loved trading our ten towers of 10 for a block of 100!

I used the AMAZING 100th day freebie from Cara at First Grade Parade for our 100th day centers! 

The kids loved them!

Here are just a few pics of my kids in action!
Matching Hershey Kisses (with #s 1-100 on a dot sticker on the bottom) to the 100s chart!

The coolest structure that was built! They had difficulty using all 100 marshmallows in 20 minutes or less. So I think next year I may have them work in a larger group as a team!

I provided them with 100 mini-solo cups- but the kids only got this far with them before they would crumble to the ground! It's okay though! They loved it so much they asked if they could keep them for indoor recess time! Why not?! =)

This one had me cracking up! Right as I went to take a picture of their structure, all the cups fell and her face was priceless. I had to giggle and that's when the hands came out on her hips and she grinned! Love it!
The cups were definitely the class favorite! I think I may have a group of engineers in the works!

Speaking of which! This week in science, we are exploring all the ways objects move. (straight/zigzag, up/down, back/forth, round and round, side to side, fast/slow)  It was surprisingly difficult to find some activities I could with objects around the classroom. But I found some great ideas at Little Miss Hypothesis! My favorite was the "Objects can move" predictable chart! I just noticed that she even has a whole packet on TPT... so I think I will have to purchase that next year!
But as I was researching ideas on how to work on this concept in the classroom, I remember watching Peewee's Big Adventure and being glued to the TV when his breakfast "Rube Goldberg" machine would start! Oh how my curiosity would soar! So I thought, why not show something similiar to my kids to get them excited? Well I stumbled across this amazing commercial on youtube and my kids were OBSESSED. I'm telling you- we watched it like 3 times and talked about all the different ways the objects moved. They were so excited. I told them that engineers (like my dad!) build and invent machines. Then I asked them... after watching this "Who want's be an engineer?!" And I tell you- EVERY. SINGLE. HAND. WAS UP!!!! I need to get me these "Goldieblox" for my classroom AND my nieces! (I bet my dad's already on it though! He tried to get me to be an engineer, but my heart just wasn't in it.)

So during indoor recess, we got out he blocks and those kids WENT TO TOWN! It was so exciting to see them psyched up about something we were learning! I love it!