March 23, 2016

Birthday Shenanigans Teacher Style!

Hi Friends! 
Thanks so much for stopping by! I am so excited to share some birthday shenanigans with you today! 
Monday was my 28th birthday and we had a birthday party in the classroom!
Say what?!
You seriously threw yourself a birthday party?



Ummm Yes, I did...again.
 And it was amazing. Again.
I love birthdays. 
Kindergarteners love birthdays. 
Why wouldn't you throw yourself a birthday?! 

It all began last year...
The month of March rolled around and we started talking about March birthdays. I shared that my birthday was during the month, and a little girl ever so sweetly asked, "Mrs. Masters, can we come to your birthday party?!" 
I mean how could I say no?

Operation birthday party was underway. 

This year was the second annual Mrs. Masters B-Day Celebration and I knew I wanted it be be even better than last year! 

A common phrase I use in our classroom is, "oh wow, you're ROCKIN' it today!!" I mean I use "ROCKIN'" for everything, so it only made sense to have a ROCKSTAR themed party this year! 


I sent these invitations home with my kids on Friday so that they could get excited ALL weekend long!

I spent my weekend preparing all of the favors and games for the festivities!
I am so fortunate that Mr. Masters took the day off to help with the classroom setup and spend the day with my students and I!
He is simply the best!


We arrived at school early to get the balloons blown up, streamers hung, table decorated and the favors out and ready.


I mean does that not just scream pure happiness?! :)



I knew the day was going to be a little different, so I felt that it was important to "somewhat" maintain our routine to keep things from getting too cray-cray!
During our morning meeting I handed out the VIP passes and sunglasses so that students could enjoy them during their literacy stations.
I mean everyone knows that stations are way cooler when you're a rockstar!


My students chose which color lanyard and sunglasses they wanted but knew that if one color ran out they would have to pick another.

We conducted our regular literacy station in the morning except that Mr. Masters ran our "project" station. He helped students decorate their microphones!!



I LOVE how these turned out! 

After lunch and recess we played some fun, yet educational games! We began by playing musical chairs. I began by placing 15 chairs on the carpet.  This meant that several friends were going to be "out" very quickly. Every time we removed some chairs, we had to write the number sentence to match.



This was a great way for us to practice our subtraction skills. The students who were out of the game wrote the number sentences on their white boards and cheered on their peers!



We've talked about sportsmanship quite a few times, so I was happy to see that it carried over to the game.


After a couple of rounds of musical chairs, we moved into the egg and spoon game. I chose this game because it easy prep, fun and I knew I could put a learning twist on easily!
Oh and because it's almost Easter!



I randomly split my students into two teams for a relay type game. Each student had to walk from one side of the room to the other while balancing the egg on the spoon. If they dropped it, they had to return and try again. Once the students reached me, they had to read a sight word and then return to hand off the spoon to the next person in line.
This game was a HIT!!


The final "game" was a scavenger hunt! 
We had to go around the school and solve the secret message to find out what our last BIG surprise was going to be. 


Students had a recording sheet that had all of the pictures and they had to write the letters in the correct space to figure out the message.
They LOVED walking through the school with their VIP passes and shades :) and of course finding the letters too!


Obviously, I had a great time too!!

The excitement when they were starting to figure out the message was just priceless!


ICE CREAM!!!


Mr. Masters read us a story after our sugar rush :)
He's an old pro now!


We also spent some time just rocking out with our new microphones
to some of our favorite Kidz Bop songs!

We wrapped up the day with a little bit of writing about our favorite part of the day!




We had such a great day together! The BEST part of the day was just seeing the excitement and joy in my students! My hope is that this day becomes a school memory that they never forget!

After all, school is cool!

If you want to throw your own Rockstar birthday party, pick up the editable
party pack in my TPT store!



Thanks so much for checking out our special day!
Have an awesome week and don't forget to BE fabulous!


March 18, 2016

We're Going On An Egg Hunt!!

I can't imagine being more excited for spring! It's the perfect season to try something new and freshen up your resources! Some of my very talented teacher friends are getting together to bring you an EGG-cellent and EGG-citing GIVEAWAY to win a Teachers Pay Teachers $100 gift card!


All you have to do is make like a bunny and HOP through our Egg Hunt! There are just 3 simple steps!

Step 1: HOP on over to my store by clicking  [HERE] Follow my store and look for the letter in my banner! You can find it on the Easter Egg! 

Step 2:  Click on my store banner. It will bring you right to the next stop on this little egg hunt. Follow the next store and collect that letter too. Hop around and collect 8 eggs!

Step 3:   After you have collected all 8 eggs, use them to figure out our secret message!  Enter it into the rafflecopter for extra entry to win the $100 TpT Gift Card!

You can start hopping at my store now! Good luck friends!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 8, 2016

Get Your Students Ready for the NWEA MAP Test

Hi Friends! 
 I recently wrote a post about my positive feelings toward the NWEA MAP test. I am excited to be sharing a short series of blog posts about my experiences with the test.  You can read my original post here
And just to be clear...no, my posts are not sponsored by NWEA.
 Sorry, that question made me chuckle!
I've simply been using MAP for a few years in my kindergarten classroom and feel that it's been an amazing resource to guide instruction and grow my students. 

Today, I am going to be sharing some tips to help you administer the MAP test successfully! 



It's important that both you and your students go into the MAP test with a growth mindset. We access a growth mindset by discussing how the test is going to exercise our brains and why it's important that the questions challenge them! 

If you're not sure what a growth mindset is, or need ideas on how to discuss it with young children, check out Class Dojo's growth mindset videos! I also think it's important to allow my students to see the excitement and passion I have for growing their brains. If they see that I'm excited, they become excited too!  If you're not excited about it, then fake it, because your students are not going to do their best  for you on a test that you don't care about. 
Talk to your students about the test. Tell them that it's a way for you to see what they already know and what they still need to know. I always give examples like, "Some of you already know all of your letters, and if you know all of your letters then I don't want to waste time and teach them to you again. I want to find out what kinds of things your brain still needs to learn"!!! I teach five and six year olds, and they understand this concept. They understand that doing their best helps the both of us!
Be sure to use the tools that are available on the NWEA website. Since I teach Kindergarteners, this is the first experience they have with the test. It is important that they learn as much about it as possible. We start talking about the test the week before we administer. It's important to spend time talking about the test so that students understand the format and purpose. 

They must learn how to turn up the volume, how to get to the next question, and how to select the correct answer. Don't assume that they know how to do these things. It's important to model these test-taking skills and practice!
I use the following video with my kids before every test administration. It's an excellent refresher for the students! Click the image below to check it out!


Another resource I use from the NWEA website is the sample tests. I like these because my students can see the different types of questions that will be on the test, and what they have to manipulate in order to answer the question. I pull these up on the smartboard and we go through them together.  You can access the sample tests by clicking on the images below! 



If you have a classroom of little ones, recruit an older class to help your kids with the login process. We have a fourth grade class that comes down for the Fall, Winter and Spring test sessions! The fourth grade students love it! In fact, it's kind of a reward for them to be able to come down and help the kindergarten friends. I write the test session name and password on my white board so that they can easily see it. My kids have their name tags at their seats, which makes it easy for the fourth graders to find their name. The older students also check the volume and brightness on the Chromebooks and adjust it accordingly for my kinders. The process takes no more than 10 minutes and then the fourth graders are back to their class. 
Speaking of Chromebooks....we use them when we are administering the test. If your students have never used them, make sure that you set aside some time before the test to get students on whatever type of device they will be using. 

I also like to have mice available for my students incase they have trouble with dragging and dropping! 
Proctor from a laptop. 
The first time I administered MAP I set up the test session on my desktop computer.
BIGGEST mistake ever. 
Every time a student accidentally "logged off", I had to run over to the desktop to suspend their test, run back to sign them in, run back to my desktop to confirm....you get the point. 
What was I thinking?! 
If you set it up on a laptop, you can walk around with the laptop and take care of problems more efficiently. 
Provide scrap paper for students who need it to work through problems. I have it available to anyone who needs it. They know where to find it and are welcome to grab some if they need to! 


Don't be afraid to take a break. 
It can be tough for young kids to sit for the duration of the test. If you feel like your kids need a break, you can make that decision by simply pausing the test. I've paused the test to let my students take a brain break with Go Noodle. We've also paused the test to just go on a walk. You know your kids best. 
If they need a break, take one! 


Teach students what to do if they need anything during the test. I teach mine to raise their hands...for everything! 
If they can't hear their test, they raise their hand.
If they clicked out of the test, they raise their hand.
If they are having trouble dragging an answer, they raise their hand. 
This requires a lot of running around (especially during the Fall test) so it may be smart to try to recruit another adult to be in the room with you. Perhaps an aide, guidance counselor, or an administrator. I know it can be tough to find someone that's available but I usually just beg until someone agrees. 
Be sure to have a plan for students as they finish the test. You can easily have some work prepared for them or they can read a book. I usually put my students on a fun website once they complete the test so that there aren't any disruptions. 

I hope you found these tips useful and hope that you and your students will find success in taking the MAP test! 

My next post will focus on how I use the reports to group my students and drive instruction! 
Have the BEST week!