June 29, 2015

Monday Made It

Hi Friends!
Happy Monday!
Unfortunately, it's another rainy day here in Columbus. I am so over the rain, but on the bright side, I'm linking up with Tara, over at 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It Linky! 



One thing I love most about summer is that I actually have the TIME to dive into some fun, crafty projects! This past week I decided to take on the "Teacher Toolkit". I am moving into a new classroom next year and it's not quite as big as my current room.  It's still a good size, but I'm used to having a lot more storage. So, I figured I need to start mapping and planning out where everything will go. This project will give me easy access to all of my teacher essentials! 




I'm going to start from the beginning and share all the steps I took to create this fabulous toolkit! 

The first step was getting the materials I needed:

-tool kit
-spray paint

I got both of these at Lowes. 


You can find the tool kit here and the spray paint (Valspar/satin/nautical paint and primer) info here.

I began by taking all the drawers out and giving the frame a good wipe down. It had dust and such on it from sitting at the store. 



Next I took the frame outside and started painting.  (Don't mind our driveway...it needs sealed...bad!)



My biggest tip for spray painting is that you CANNOT be in a HURRY! Take your time and give it multiple coats. Don't try to get the perfect color in the first coat or you'll more than likely have drips. Let it dry completely before you begin another coat. I painted my toolkit over the course of two days. I took my time because I wanted it to look nice and have an even finish.


The picture above is the first coat.

In between all of the painting, I got to work on making some cutesy labels!




I am so happy with how they turned out! You can grab them here or by clicking on the picture below!


When it was time to cut out all of my labels, it took me no time at all because I use one these!


It makes cutting a breeze. In fact, I have one for school and one for home.
#totallyworthit

Next, I just taped the labels to the inside part of the drawer. The tape runs from the back of the label to the sides of the drawer and on the bottom. Others have posted about using double sided tape too so that is an option as well.


And that's it! Here is my final product!



What do you think?! Give it a try!!
I'm so excited to fill mine up with school supplies! :)
Have a fabulous week!


June 28, 2015

Writing in the Early Childhood Classroom

Hi Friends! 
I am so happy to be sharing with you today!
 I've been wanting to do a post on writing for a while because in talking with so many early childhood teachers, I've learned that there is a lack of consistency when it comes to what our students are expected to produce. 
Today, I am going to share how writing works in my kindergarten classroom! However, it is completely applicable for all early childhood classrooms! 

There are 4 major types of writing that take place in my classroom:
1. Shared Writing
     2. Interactive Writing
    3. Writing Workshop 
        4. Independent Writing

What is Shared Writing?

Shared writing is when the students and teacher work together to compose a piece of writing. This piece could be a story, message, letter, etc. The teacher's role during this process is to be the scribe and to draw attention to things like letters, sounds and words as well as modeling how the writing process works.  This is also a great opportunity for students to see that their ideas can be translated from oral to written language.

What is Interactive Writing?
Just like shared writing, interactive writing is a process where the students and teacher work together to compose a piece of writing. The difference in the two is that the students are more involved in the writing process by "sharing the pen" with the teacher. During interactive writing, the teacher is not the sole scribe. Students come up and write letters, sounds, chunks and words in the collaborative piece.  The teacher's focus during this time is to guide students through the process of planning the writing, model and support students in breaking words into letters and sounds, demonstrate strategies and concepts of print, and to bring attention to the connection between writing and reading. We use our classroom word wall during this time to help us with words that we already know. Interactive writing pieces should be read through multiple times with the students. They should also be available for students to read independently.

What is Writing Workshop?
I am often surprised by the number of teachers I meet that do not use the Writing Workshop model in their classroom. I feel very fortunate that I was trained in Literacy Collaborative at Ohio State and therefore these components are in my blood. If you and your students struggle with writing in your classroom, I highly suggest starting with Writing Workshop.

Writing workshop is an approach where students compose individual writing pieces (narrative, opinion/persuasive, informational) with guidance and feedback from the teacher and even their peers.   I use the Lucy Calkins Writing Units of Study to guide my lessons during this time. Writing Workshop includes
three key components.

1. Mini-lesson (5-10 mins.)
A mini-lesson is a short, focused lesson that focuses on procedures, strategies/skills, and the writing craft.

2. Writing/Conferencing Time (20-30 mins.)
During this time, all students are working on their writing. Students may be a different places in the writing process, and that is okay!  The teacher spends this time conferencing with students to help them move forward with their writing piece. This is also the time that the teacher could pull a small guided writing group and focus on skills that are appropriate for those students.

3. Share Time (10-15 mins.) 

All students gather together and a couple of students share their "in progress" writing pieces or their "final" pieces. This a great way for students to receive feedback on their writing and practice conferring with their peers.  It's always a good idea to choose student writing samples that relate back to what you taught during the mini-lesson that day.

Here are a couple of pics of my kinders sharing their "how-to" stories with our second grade buddies!








What is Independent Writing?
Independent writing is when students use the resources in the classroom to engage in writing opportunities across multiple genres. During this time, very little teacher support is given. It's important for teachers to analyze student work during this time because it can help guide the direction  of future mini-lessons.

In my classroom I provide a Writing Work Station during my reading block. This is a time that students can independently work on various types of writing. The writing station is always one of my students' favorites!













It is currently discounted 50% until Sunday night!! 
Click the picture below to go to my store! :)




Have a fabulous weekend and can't wait to meet so many of you in Vegas at the TPT Conference!! 
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June 25, 2015

Dare to Dream

Hi there! 
Happy Thursday! 
This is Week 2 of the #tptsellerchallenge and it's all about dreaming....
dreaming BIG!


As I reflect back on my blogging journey, I think about why I wanted to start a blog.  I first stumbled upon teacher blogs back in 2010 when I was getting my Masters degree. I began reading tons of teacher blogs and started my own stockpile of ideas for my future classroom. I loved how the blogging community was so supportive of each other! These teachers were sharing their ideas, resources and experiences with people they didn't even know! I just thought that was so nice! 
 I dream of one day being a teacher like that. 

In 2014 I finally got the courage to start a blog. I had no idea what I was doing, but learned over time. I also started my TPT store in 2014. I figured I was already making stuff to use in my classroom, so why not share it with others?! I mean after all, that is how I was first inspired. I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a part of the collaborative blog The Primary Pack, and have been blown away by the      support of my fellow primary pack girls. It's so nice to collaborate with people who are just as passionate about teaching as you are. I am beyond excited to spend time with these ladies in Vegas in a couple of weeks!

Now on to my BIG dreams.



1. It's so important to me to be the best teacher I can be for my students. I absolutely LOVE teaching kindergarten. When I am doing my thing in the classroom, my heart is full.
I am amazed by the capabilities of five year olds.
There really is something so special about Kindergarten.
 In addition to loving my job, there is also a lot of pressure. I feel a great responsibility to my students to ensure that they get what they need when they are in my classroom. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get better and continue growing.
I'm known for having very high expectations for my kindergarteners, and I think that stems from having high expectations for myself and those around me.
I am committed to being a life long learner and growing as an educator.
I've already learned so much through the teacher blogger community and am excited to continue!

2. Blogging and TPT have allowed me the opportunity to share my love of teaching with others.
 I just love it. I can't explain it any other way.
Teaching makes my heart full and very, very happy!

3. Okay, so if we're dreaming BIG...
I dream that TPT can one day help me purchase that perfect, rickety, old farm house on the perfect piece of property that is ready to be gutted and beautified! I am fortunate enough to have a husband who can literally do anything. He is just so darn handy and I love it!
We've been having so much redoing our current home....
BUT are so ready to find our forever home and move out of the city.

This "perfect" farm house in my mind:
-has a BIG wrap around front porch, so I can enjoy my morning coffee outside!
- has at least 5 acres... big open yard, complete with some woods, perhaps a pond?!
-is within 20 minutes of my school ( I'm so over my drive)
-Oh and how about a tree lined driveway, maybe even on a tree lined country road
- is large enough that I can have a BIG dining room, kitchen and closet..oh and a craft room :)
-needs a lot of work so we can make it our own
I know, I know... it probably doesn't exist. But I'm going to keep on looking just incase.
So what if I have to stalk the local MLS daily?! I enjoy it. :)

So there are are some of my BIG dreams for my blogging and TPT journey! Special thanks to the ladies at Third in Hollywood, Sparkling in Second, Peppy Zesty Teacherista, and Teach Create Motivate for hosting this amazing challenge!

June 21, 2015

Makeover Madness TPT Seller Challenge

Hello!
I am so happy to be linking up with Peppy Zesty Teacherista, Third in Hollywood, Teach Create Motivate and Sparkling in Second for their fabulous Makeover Madness Challenge! 
This is such a great way to get us all motivated to revamp our products that need it the most! I decided to makeover my "How Does Your Garden Grow" Plant observation journal. It needed it...bad. I had used all free clipart the first time around and while it worked, it wasn't as eye catching as I would have liked. Over the past year, my supply of high quality clipart has grown and I knew I had some that would give this a new look! 

I'm also working on updating a few of my other products! 
I'm so grateful to have some time off in the summer do work on these things!
Have a Super Sunday! 

June 8, 2015

Tips to a Kindergarten Teacher, From a Kindergarten Teacher

Hi there!
Happy Monday!
Today, I am linking up with Mary from Sharing Kindergarten to share some tips about teaching my favorite grade...
KINDERGARTEN!



This is such a great linky because there are so many amazing tips for new kindergarten teachers, and for experienced teacher's who just need some fresh ideas! 


Tip 1: 
Model EVERYTHING! 
If you want your students to do something, you have to show them. Just go ahead and assume none of them have been to school before.

I truly believe that modeling is the most effective instructional strategy in the early childhood classroom. Start the beginning of the year by showing your students how they can be successful in your classroom. Honestly, you really should assume that none of them have been to school before because if you assume this, you're probably going to be more explicit in modeling your expectations for your students. On the first day of school, some of the very first things I model for my students are how to come into the classroom , how to sit at their table seat, how to use the restroom, how to wash their hands, how to line up, how to sit on the carpet, and of course I also teach them a way that I can get their attention. AND THEN, we practice, practice, practice. Oh, and then we practice again!
It's also important to note the number of steps that go into these. 
For example, showing students how to come into the classroom isn't just walking in..... 
it really consists of lining up in the hall quietly, using walking feet as they come in,  hanging up their their back packs, checking in for lunch, picking up their morning work, etc.  
I cannot stress the importance of spending time modeling all of your classroom procedures and expectations enough. Your students want to be successful and when you show them how to do that, they thrive! 

***When my students aren't successful with routines and expectations, I know that I did not do a good enough job modeling these things. Take a deep breath, it's okay, because you can always go back and re-teach it! 


Tip 2:
Don't assume your kids can't do something. 
You will be amazed at what your kids are capable of.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when teachers say, "oh, my kids can't do that". 
Really? 
Are you sure? 
Have you provided the necessary tools to help them be successful?
Here are just a few of the many things that your kindergarteners CAN do:
1. Maintain a clean, and organized learning space
2. Walk quietly down the hall (yes, it can be done)
3. Log in to computers/tablets and apps that have usernames/passwords
4. Maintain their workstations
5. Present their ideas/projects to their peers 
We really need to give these kids a lot of credit because they can do just about anything! 


Tip 3:
Don't forget to bring on the MAGIC! 

Find ways to incorporate fun, magical activities in your classroom while still hitting all of those standards. I believe that you can have so much fun in your classroom if you are purposeful when you plan. For example, when our class pet Marley arrived in our classroom this year, I knew that moving him around at night would create some awesome on-demand writing opportunities for my students! And even our second grade buddies just weren't quite sure how he was moving around. 
"I mean seriously, he was like this when I came in! I was in a meeting before school!"


 



"Marley went to the computers. Marley went by the library".



"Marley snuck to the computers last night when the teachers weren't here or kids".



However you can create magic...
Make it Happen!
Your kids will love coming to school every day!


Tip 4:
Have a plan for how you are going to differentiate learning!

Not only should you have a plan for how you are going to differentiate learning but you also need to be prepared to share that plan with families. It's important to remember that our students have all kinds of experiences when they come into kindergarten. Some have been to school, some are reading,  some are adding and subtracting already and some have never held a pencil. It can be hard to explain to parents how you are going to meet the needs of each and every child. Here are some tips:
1. Listen
2. Be confident when talking to parents. You are the teacher and you know what is best for students. 
3.  Tell them how you are going to meet the needs of their child. Talk about areas of strengths and weaknesses. 
4. Show them how you are differentiating. For example, if you have set up leveled activities in your stations, show them how that works. 
5. Provide resources for further enrichment/intervention that they can utilize at home and be sure to follow up with parents. 

I hope that you've found some tips that will be useful in your classroom! 
Be sure to check out all the fabulous kindergarten teachers that linked up to hear about their tips too! 
Have a great day! 

June 5, 2015

Five For Friday

Hello!
Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm feeling so excited that I finally have some time to sit back, relax, blog and have some time for me, but I have to honestly say that I'm already missing my darling kinders! I just can't help it. They really are the best.
 My summer "officially" started on Monday, but between finishing packing up my classroom (moving to a new room), our district's Summer Summit and leading/co-leading some PD, it doesn't seem quite like it has began yet...
That is until now :) 
So, to kick off the beginning of my summer, I am linking up with Doodlebug's Teaching for her Five for Friday linky and sharing 5 random things from my  jam packed week! 


Here we go!


At the end of every school year,  I give my students my address so that we can write letters back and forth. This week I've already received 3 precious letters! This was the first that I got. It just makes my heart happy. She included a penny, pink string and a balloon of course! 



On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to lead a couple of sessions at our district's Summer Summit on Math Workshop. I also had the opportunity learn from some fabulous educators in their sessions. It's so much fun for me to collaborate and learn from other teachers and administrators! I also teamed up with our district data guru and we've been teaching some PD on using NWEA MAP data with math workstations and guided math. It's amazing the conversations we can have about our teaching when just have the time for it. 




It's official! We  booked our 5 year anniversary trip this week for the end of July! We are going to Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic! I am soooo excited! Can't believe we'll be celebrating 5 years!  Here's a little peak of where we'll be staying!



Eeeeeeek!!


Yesterday, (day 2 of my district's Summer Summit) we were privileged to have Dave Burgess come and speak with our staff! He is the amazing author of the popular  book, Teach Like a Pirate and is a high school history teacher from California. He was just incredible! I just sat there during his keynote captivated by his energy and his inspiring words! I always get this rush of excitement when I am surrounded by educators that have the same passion for teaching that I do. It seems so easy to focus on the "hard/negative" parts of our job, but when we are surrounded by people who build us up, and don't dwell on the things we can't change, we can accomplish so much more and be that much better for our kids. I'm learning that in order to make a change, you have to BE the change. For me that means, leading by example, and providing others with those supportive boosts they may need. We're all a work in progress, and admitting that is half the battle :)  
Any way, back to Dave Burgess..did you know he is a magician too?! I know it's crazy, but I was pulled "up on stage" to participate in a magic act and guess what?! He's magical! I was part of this lock and key act and I'm telling you I just don't know how it all happened! 
Must just be magic!!




 During the break, I had the opportunity to snap a pic with him and my friend Sarah who teaches 2nd grade at my school. She has that same crazy, excited energy for teaching and learning as I do, so we're a perfect match! She's having her first baby at the beginning of August (isn't she adorable?!) and still gave up a couple days of her summer to grow as an educator. 
That's commitment, and I love it. 
No excuses.



So back in January, I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, Georgia with Sarah (2nd grade teacher above!) to attend the National Educator's Conference at The Ron Clark Academy. I've mentioned before that this was the most life-changing experience of my life. I have never in my life felt more like myself and more inspired. Being at RCA helped me see that I didn't need to be embarrassed about my love and passion for teaching.  I have let what others say about the time, commitment, hard work, money and passion that I put into growing my students, get to me. And to be honest, at times it has really gotten me down. I've realized that I can't worry about it, AND I am making an effort to work on that. My job is to grow kids. 
That's what I do and that's what I love doing. 
 I love teaching kids. 
#sorrynotsorry #proudteacher :) 
Long story short, last night I received an email from RCA that included all of the pictures from my trip. I was flipping through all of them and came across a picture of myself after I had "spun" the wheel to see which house I was going to be a part of (Woo Hoo Team Amistad!). The excitement on my face was just what I needed. You see, my principal and I met today to continue planning our implementation of the "house" system that will begin in August. I needed just a little reminder of the magic that I witnessed at The Ron Clark Academy. It's amazing what one little picture was able to do for me. 

I feel energized, and excited about next school year, and it's only the beginning of the summer! 
Thanks for reading the ramblings of my crazy, yet eye opening week! 
I hope your summer is off to a great start and you do all the things that make you happy! 
Have a fabulous weekend!