Aug 31, 2011

Class Mission Statement

Yesterday I posted about having a class mission statement each year. Today we talked about our mission statement...We "Aaaaargh" kindergarten friends trying to do "Aaaaargh" best. I was not able to take a picture of the class today due to one of my students being absent. However, I can't share faces of my class on this blog, so I thought I might as well share how it looks. I will add an 8X10 picture of the class and have them all sign the mission statement. We talk about our statement every day.

Yesterday we also talked about our Bucket Fillers/Bucket Dippers chart. We had a good discussion while we were listing some of the ideas.

Today was the first day that I had all of my students(well, except for the one that was absent) so we worked hard on discussing our class rules. Tomorrow we will finalize these rules and the students will help write these rules so that they have even more ownership in these rules. Hopefully our next blog I will be able to share some completed projects.

Aug 30, 2011

Tomorrow's The Big Day

Monday I had 11 of my students all day, and today I had the other 11 students all day. So tomorrow I have all 22 and I am so excited about starting our school year. The last 2 days we worked hard on classroom procedures that I learned through Responsive Classroom training several year ago. We modeled how many times to push the soap dispenser, how many times to pull the towel dispenser, how to use our glue bottles, scissors, pencils, etc. It is amazing how confident the kids are when you can really focus on things with 11 kids all day. The same modeling takes place at lunch time when they have to go through the cafeteria line. The kids will feel like pros tomorrow when everyone in the class is present. This daily modeling for the next several weeks produces a strong community of learners who want to take responsibility and have pride in our classroom and school environment.

The Kissing Hand was our morning focus. We made Chester headbands, completed a comprehension activity, and brainstormed what we thought Chester might do on his second day of school. We will complete more activities tomorrow which I can post some pictures for you to see our different activities. I took our first day of school pictures today of each child individually.

After lunch I read our book about Bucket Fillers/Bucket Dippers. The kids were glued to the book and were so excited about being bucket fillers. It was amazing how smooth my days went on both Monday and Tuesday. I posted earlier about how I was implementing my class community building through bucket filler/bucket dipper goals each day. I will have to say it was a huge success the last 2 days on being bucket fillers all day.

Another community building project that we will discuss tomorrow is our class mission statement. This is a statement that we can easily say so that when we have issues come up, we can recite our mission statement together. Tomorrow I will take a class picture since everyone will be here, we will all sign the mission statement, and we will post our mission statement/picture/signatures outside of our classroom. Our mission statement typically goes like this...We are kindergarten friends trying to do our best. This year since I am doing a pirate theme, I will probably say ...We "Aaaaargh" kindergarten friends trying to do "Aaaaaargh" best! I will share this community builder project tomorrow.

Hope you are enjoying your new classroom. How are you building a classroom of community learners in your room?

Aug 27, 2011

Back to School Bags

For those of you who asked, here are the cards we put on the front of our Back to School bags this year. The contents of the bag and the 'poems' change each year to match whatever school wide theme we are using. Usually all of the first and second grade classes fill their bags with the same things. This is the first year (in a long time) that the kindergarten classes participated in the school's Back to School Open House. It was a fun evening.

Back to School Bags K-2

Aug 25, 2011

Blog Hoppin TGIF Open House and Back to School Bags

This year we ran our before school Open House a little bit differently.  For the past several years we have had a sit down meeting with the parents while our principal had a 'meeting' with the kids.  Then the kids would be released to the rooms to meet us and look around the room.  This year instead of having separate starting spots for the parents and the kids we had everyone come straight to the rooms.  We then gave them a scavenger hunt to complete together.  This gave them a chance to move around the room while finding out some information about the classroom and routines we would be having throughout the school year.  Steps on the scavenger hunt were different in each room to fit each teacher's needs.  Here are the clues that I had my students and parents complete.

Scavenger Hunt 2011-2012

The parents and the students seemed to enjoy the evening and were able to gain some information without sitting and listening to us talk and talk and talk.  If we have the same format next year I would change the order of a few of the clues but would keep the format the same. 

We put together some Back to School Bags with a few little treasures.  We gave those to the kids and gave the parents the folder FULL of papers that they needed to fill out.  In some ways it seems like parent abuse to make then fill out so many forms!

If anyone is interested in the little 'poems' we put on the front of the bags we would be happy to share!

The kids ended their time at the gym and got a popsicle from the principal.  Ahhh.  Life is good!

Aug 24, 2011

Classroom Pictures - We Are Ready!

So glad that the Blog Hoppin' Topic is Classroom pictures.

Many of you saw the pictures of what our rooms looked like when we first got back into them. Now they are ready for the kids to come. It's a good thing since we start this week! Take a look. This is the best our desks will look all year!

Aug 23, 2011

Open House, Meetings, Getting Our Rooms Ready and Blog Hoppin

It has been a couple of days since we last posted.  We had plans to post, but we have been in full speed of getting our rooms ready, Open House, and lots of meetings.  My husband and I sent off both of our kids to college on Thursday of last week.  So, it has been pretty quiet around our house and I am going to have to get used to it.  I guess when my kindergarten students come next week, I will appreciate the quiet time at home!!

We both had Open House last night.  Our theme for our entire school is "Lighting The Way".  I am doing a Pirate theme and SueBeth is doing a star theme.  We took pictures and will share these this week!! 

Today we were in meetings for most of the day.  Our school officially starts tomorrow.  Kindergarten students and families will come at designated times tomorrow for screening.  They will stay about an hour.  Then we will screen again on Thursday morning leaving some time Thursday afternoon to assess our screening results.  Friday will be a day that we will meet together as a kindergarten team to discuss our units and goals for the school year.  Then on Monday 1/2 of my class will come, Tuesday the other 1/2 will come, and finally on Wednesday my whole class will be there.  I can't wait to start all of the fun projects we have planned for the upcoming school year.   How does your school conduct kindergarten screening?  What things do you test?

Love the new blog "Blog Hoppin".  We did not participate in the Meet The Teacher because we both were working in our rooms yesterday and had Open House.  So we can participate in today's topic~
What Advice Do We Have For New Teachers...
1.  Communication with parents is the best way to win them over and keep them on your side.  You can do this through class newsletters, notes home, and emails.  Keep them informed!!

2.  Be positive with your students...believe in every student that steps foot in your classroom.  You may be the only positive role model that they have in their life.  Even though some can be challenging, remember your job is to make them the best they can be and believe in them!!

3.  At the beginning, take time to establish classroom rules and procedures.  I took a Responsive Classroom Workshop and learned that you have to practice EVERYTHING with the students for the first 6 weeks of school, then you will be amazed how independent your students are after all of this practice and modeling.

4.  Don't be afraid to ask veteran teachers questions.  They have a lot of experience that they can help you get through your first year.

5.  Last but not your job as a teacher because it is the greatest gift that you have been given.  However, always put your family first because from my experience this past week of having the empty nest now in our house...enjoy your family because they grow up way too fast!!

Have a great school year!!

Aug 17, 2011

Bucket Dippers, Bucket Fillers

Last year I purchased the books and did research on this topic of Bucket Fillers/Bucket Dippers.  My student teacher and I bought into the program so we started it mid year.  In kindergarten, we found it difficult for the kids to fill out the piece of paper.  So, we used die cut stars to put into the buckets when we saw/heard them being a bucket filler.  The problem was that some of the kids who were always bucket fillers didn't have as many stars because we were focusing on some of the "bucket dipper" students.  We used this system along with the colored discipline ticket system.

After several hours on Pinterest, blogging, and just plain brainstorming I have come up with a system that I am going to use for this coming school year.  My students are still going to do the colored ticket system for their individual behavior, but I am also going to use the bucket dipper/bucket filler as a class goal.
Here is my plan...I made 2 jars titled dipper/filler.  I have a large black bucket that will hold the 20 balls that I purchased at Target in the dog toy section.  Each morning we will start out with the 20 balls in the black bucket.  We will count the balls each day to practice counting to 20.  When I hear/see a student or the entire class doing something great, then we will take a ball from the black bucket and place it into the filler bucket.  At the end of the day, we will predict if we have more balls in the dipper or filler containers.  Then we will count the balls in each container and write the numbers.  We will discuss which container had more/less.

As you can see, I am not only going to be able to use this for our class behavior goals but I am also going to be able to integrate some math standards.  As the first couple of days pass, I plan on making class goals with the students to challenge them to see if they can have 10 or more filler balls into the container and less than 3 balls into the dipper container.  I am excited about using this concept to help promote all students in my class being bucket fillers.  If we make our class goal each day/week/month then we can have some kind of reward...extra recess, ice cream party, 10 minutes of extra center time, etc.   Well, off to finish up data binder spine name tags because we go our class lists today!!   

Aug 16, 2011

Poems on the Poetree

Each week we introduce a poem that we put into a poetry book.  We use the poems in many different full group and small group activities.  But one of our favorite parts of using the poetry is watching kids take a poem and just enjoy it.  Sometimes they read it to friends.  Sometimes they act it out.  Sometimes they make it into a song.  Sometimes they just recite it over and over using different voices.  To make the poems available to the kids at all times we put them on our 'Poetree'.  By the end of the year the tree is full of leaves.  Maybe you can have a 'poetree' in your classroom this year!

Ready for the Beginning of the Year
What it will look like after a couple weeks.  Leaves have the poems printed on them.

Aug 14, 2011

Check These Out!

We have put four items on sale that can be used all year.  The work is done let the fun begin.  You can get either version of our SMARTBoard calendars (K-1 or 1-3), our All About Me Journal (black and white and ready to print) and a Mixture of Daily Oral Language, Math and Analogies at our TPT store.  All of these item will take your students through the year with great learning opportunities.  Enjoy!

Aug 13, 2011

Me and My Gang

Just wanted to let you know that we are joining a group of teachers on the Me and My Gang blog.  Check it out.  You will find lots of great ideas from teachers old and new.

Today there are several links to freebies and some free printables.  There is also a 'Saturday Shout Out' where you will get to know one of the authors.

Aug 11, 2011

Mini Pocket Charts

We have noticed that there seems to be a decrease of action on lots of blogs. Is this because so many of us are in our rooms getting ready for the beginning of the year?!? We know that is keeping us busy.

We have created two more sorting activities that can be used with the mini pocket charts. One is 'set two' of our two way sorting activities. This one includes additional sorting prompts and a set of second grade sight words. The other new activity is three way sorting with names. It is sized to be used in the mini pocket charts and is a good introduction to using Venn diagrams. We also created a set of homework activities that will support both Letter Naming Fluency and Initial (or First) Sound Fluency. Check out these new items (Letter Naming Fluency and Initial Sound Fluency Homework, Three Way Sorting with Names, Two Way Sorting Set 2 Sight Words, Names, and More) at our TPT store. Each for only $1.00.

Aug 10, 2011

Initial Sound Fluency Freebie

We are continuing to check things off one at a time.  Hope you are too.  We know some of you have already started back and that just brings a new To Do list.  Here is one of the last things we finished.  We made a set of Initial Sound Fluency cards to use to strengthen phonemic awareness and to prepare students for the ISF section of our Dibels assessments.  If your school system uses Dibels, it is another tool for you to use.  If your school doesn't, it is another set of pictures to practice beginning sounds.

Initial Sound Fluency Cards

Aug 8, 2011

Classroom To Do Lists

We both worked all day today in our classrooms with the intent to cross off as many items on our To Do lists as possible.  I started with 42 items listed, crossed off 12 and only added 4.  So that was progress! Over half of the items I have left can't be accomplished until I have my class list and our special's schedule.  So that just becomes a waiting game.  As soon as the color printer was back up and working, Robynn was checking all kinds of things off of her list.  I think her computer is giving a sigh of relief now that she can get some of those printing jobs off of her desktop!

As I looked around my room today I realized how many words I had 'hanging around'.  Guess the kids will have things to read no matter where they look!
These are the students individual bulletin boards that they will fill and/or decorate.

School Mission Statement - Together we celebrate doing our best to be respectful responsible learners.

Bulletin Board Inside the Door

Reminder Above the Door

Outside the Classroom - After I get my class list I will add stars around the words.

Since our school theme this year is Lighting the Way to Learning, I decided to use stars and 'light' words that go along them - Sparkle, Twinkle, Glow, Shine.  As you know Robynn is decorating with Pirates (Following the Light to Find the Treasure of Learning).  Other classes are decorating with flashlights, lightbulbs, fireflies, lights camera action, suns and rainbows, and lighthouses.  Every class is going their own way but we will all be tied together with the words Lighting the Way.

Aug 7, 2011

Giveaway Prizes

Tammi chose the 2011 - 2012 Calendar SMARTBoard Activities for K-1, A Mixture of Daily Oral Language, Math and Analogies - Full Year, and Long and Short Vowel Patterns - Mystery Words for SMARTBoard for her prizes from our Back to School giveaway.  We hope she enjoys using them.

This weekend was filled with family time for both of us.  Reunions, moving, and just plain old hanging out!  Now it's back to the TO DO lists.  How are your TO DO lists looking?  Ours both seem to keep getting longer.  We seem to be adding more things than the number of things we are crossing off.  We know that a teacher's TO DO list is never finished but we would like to see them get a bit shorter.  Maybe it will happen this week!

Aug 5, 2011

The Winner Is ...

We have chosen the winner for our Back to School contest. This time we put in the range of numbers and then looked to see who had made that comment. The winner was Tammi from the Having Fun K-1 blog
We have sent Tammi an email asking her what three items she would like from our TPT store. Thanks to all of you who participated.  Check back often.  You never know when our next giveaway will be!

Aug 4, 2011

Extended Sale

Looks like lots of people are extending their TPT sales through the weekend so we waved the magic wand and decided to do the same!  Hope you go and check out the bargains.

Both of us spent the day at our first inservice day to discuss the common core standards and what changes that will bring to our district.  It was a day of lots of talk and head filling thoughts.  Even though we feel like our committees accomplished things we were both thinking about the TO DO lists we have waiting in our classrooms.

I have finally checked off getting most of my full year projects copied ... repeated tasks, data binder graphs, math tests, timed tests, spelling lists, journal papers, journal dividers, portfolio pages, letter papers, assignment notebooks, math journals etc.  One new thing I made for this year was an All About Me Journal.  In the past, I have done a few activities that have given the kids a chance to tell and show more about themselves.  This year I am going to designate one day a week of our journal time to "All About Me" time.  I am looking forward to giving the kids even more time to really think and explore more topics about themselves.  Here is a picture of a few of the pages.  Check out the preview of the full year journal at our TPT store... on sale until Sunday!