Saturday, June 30, 2012

Welcome Dr. Penny and A Freebie For Blog Swap and Hop

I am delighted to introduce you to one of the smartest bloggers I know! Dr. Penny from Teach The Math is my guest for the Blog Swap and Hop.  You're gonna love her. I just know it.  Remember, I'm off visiting a blogger friend myself.  So when you've finished here, please hop on over to A Special Kind of Class  (I'll leave her button at the bottom so you can find it)
to see what I've been up to and grab a couple of new freebies.  I'll see you over there.  Now without further adeau . . .
www.teachthemath.com


Hello all!  I'm Penny from Teach the Math.  I am thrilled to be guest blogging here with you today.  Isn't this Blog Swap and Hop just the ticket?  It is such fun! Thanks Marsha for letting me share your blog! There are many things that I love about teaching school, but two of my favorites are Kindergartners and math.  Teaching math in Kindergarten can be challenging, but it is also exciting!  



Many teachers use simple games to help reinforce their math instruction. Games are fun, engaging, and provide much needed practice for children who may need to deepen their conceptual understanding of a particular skill or strategy. They not only motivate children to work hard at solving problems, but they are great ways to bring enjoyment back to your math time. So when is enough, enough? Is there any real value in playing a certain game again and again?  


Can you think back to when you first learned how to play games?  If I reflect on my own experiences; I recall it went something like this. I'll use tic-tac-toe for example. The very first time I played it, I really had no clue what the game was about, what the objective might be, or how to be strategical in the placement of my X's or O's.  I simply added my X's or O's in a sporadic and random way.  I quickly learned that a random strategy was no strategy at all.  More often than not, I came out on the losing end of the game. Very soon though, I realized that there were strategic moves that were important to know if I wanted to win. The more I played, the better I understood the game.  The more I understood, the better I became. I began to build a bank of strategies that greatly increased my chances of winning. The same is true for Kinder kids who play the same games again and again during math time.  The more opportunities they have to play the game, the better they become at thinking, reasoning, and building new strategies for winning.  


These same strategy building skills are critical to future mathematical success.  Don't underestimate the power of having simple, but fun math games as part of your math curriculum.  And don't be so quick to put the games away.  Encourage your students to keep playing them, again and again. I created a free set of fun and easy games for you to use in your classroom. I've included them in the link below. Just print the gameboards, provide dot cubes, and your students are ready to play.  Challenge your students to play these games again and again, and see what strategies they will develop in the process.
 www.teachthemath.com       www.teachthemath.com
I hope you enjoy using them with your class and be sure to visit my blog for other fun and easy to use math ideas!  
www.teachthemath.com
Thanks so much for reading along!
www.teachthemath.com
Dr. Penny Messick is an Instructional Specialist with the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI).  She spent 25 years teaching K-2 and is a strong supporter of inquiry based learning.  She spends most of her days providing resources and professional development for elementary teachers across south Alabama.  Penny blogs at www.teachthemath.com.  She can also be found on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.





Ok!!! Don't forget to check out the rest of the bloggers hopping today!  There's sure to be plenty of great ideas and some special treats to collect along the way.  I'll see you over at A Special Kind of Class.




Check them out:

Friday, June 29, 2012

Do YOU tattoo?



  I have to share with you a little item I found and fell in love with when I went a looking for Sentos Markers at Michaels last week (By the way they have them in every flavor for a buck).


cool green background paper by http://the3amteacher.blogspot.com/  - thanks Michelle



These little tatoo lovelies were on clearance for  a whole dollar and since I was under the influence of a four year boy at the time, I had to snatch them up.



I forgot about them for a few days and then when I pulled them out, of course, my boys were ready for a 'tat day.'  This is a day when I just give it up to the tattoo gods and let them have at it with the tattoos.  We usually limit to about 4 and try to keep them in places that can be covered when we head off to church on Sunday.  I don't really want to freak out the Grannies. 



So you have to be pretty careful about placement for them, but check it out!



Aren't they fun? And let me tell you, the moment they were dry my little guys' hands came alive!


The cat and the dog were having a conversation.  And then they were chasing each other.  And then . . . he started singing his abc's with his hands and finally sat down and read a book (ok he read a book he had memorized) with his hands making all the mouth movements. 



So when my 6 year old but them on, I got the idea to work on syllables with him.  It was interesting to see him put his own hand under his chin for the syllable and then have his hand mimic it.  I tell you what, I am loving these little tattoo guys.  If only I could pull it off at school.  How much fun would my kinders doing syllable work with tattoos doing the talking or reading a book . . . But alas, not all parents are pro-kid tattoo, but if they were .  . .

a kindergarten teacher can always dream!



Now, just so you guys remember, tomorrow is the Blog Swap and Hop Event going on with a bunch of my blogging pals.  So although, I won't be here, I will have a guest blogger (she's FABULOUS) sitting in for me AND you will want to stop by so you can find out where I'll be blogging.  You know I don't go anywhere without taking presents, so of course there will be freebies!

And then after heading off to see me, you'll find guest bloggers at all my pals blogs listed below.  It should be fun. So make sure you check in tomorrow.



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chapter 3 and Time for a Freebie!




It's time for my reflections on Chapter 3!  I love that we are getting into the nuts and bolts of D5 now.  This is the putting it all together, getting organized and making it work  . . . all starting to come together little by little.  So here's what I came up with while I followed along with Tammy's guiding questions:

1. Establish a gathering place for brain and body breaks. (Do you call your gathering place anything special? A few of my teammates did. Annie called hers the "Family Room" and Kim calls hers the "Learning Space." I need to come up with something better than "the carpet" lol!)

Ok honestly, I call mine 'the floor.'  It's not original, it's not fancy but they know what I mean.  "ok everyone, to the floor.'  I do have a nice area dedicated to meeting as a large group which is no easy feat in my little tiny room.  Remember my floor plans:



You can see my 'whole group area" right there in the middle.   Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of my meeting area without kiddos in it so that's on my to do list for sure. 

2. Developing the concept of "good fit" books (There are LOTS of examples of different good fit lessons in blogland AND Pinterest) 

Although I like the "sisters" I PICK method, I think I will be looking for something a bit more 'kinder friendly.'   I found these on pinterest and you click on them to go directly to their link.


From Zeekszoo.blogspot

I like this for the sisters example of 'fitting' like shoes.

From First Grader At Last Blog
From Mrs. Richards First Grade Blog

But I have to say, I really like these 'simple' ideas almost better. They're very visual.  Kinders 'get' riding a bike and Goldilocks. Just click on them to see the original posts. 

3. Create anchor charts with students How will these be visual in the room? Where will you store them? What about small spaces?

When my students come in at the beginning of the year, my walls are bare.  When we make anchor charts together, I just start tacking them up where ever I find space.  By the end of the year the walls are covered.  Since I don't use the same charts every year, I don't store them, but I DO think it's time to start taking pictures of them because I can never remember what exactly I did the year before. 

From Mrs. Terhune Blogspot
I do have to show you something I found for displaying them that I am loving . . . take a look at how this teacher can put her charts up and take them down with just some clothes pins . . . She HOT GLUED the clothes pins to the wall . . .love it!!! I'm so doing that.

I honestly don't have space to hang the charts up or roll them up to save them for next year. For this year, I will probably post them until they are 'mastered', take a picture and put the picture in a book for students (and me) to refer to after they have been removed from the wall.

4. Short, repeated intervals of independent practice and setting up book boxes (How are you going to keep track of stamina? What will you use for book boxes? What are you going to put in those book boxes on the 1st day of school?)

Well you know what I'm using for stamina, right?  But just in case, here's a picture to link you to the printable if you would like it.



And as for book boxes . . .  remember all my goodies that arrived the other day?
Well inside, this is what I ordered just for Daily 5 student book bins! 

 
I ordered 30 of them just to be sure I had enough. ( Yes, they could stick as many as 30 or even more kiddos in my room but the most I have had is 27. )  So here's the why and where.  I choose these because they are plastic and I do not like to replace things every year.  It's too expensive to keep buying cardboard AND I don't have the time to 'cute up' a cereal box or anything else. I would rather make the investment now and have them for several years.  I purchased them from The Container Store.  



And as for labeling . . . well you know how I LOVE vinyl chalkboard.  So I cranked up my Silhouette SD (I'm saving for the big daddy someday but for now the SD will have to do.) and cut out some cut little labels.   


By using the chalkboard vinyl I can easily erase and write a new name as students move in and out and at the end of the year.  LOVE IT.  


While I was ordering, I also purchased Really Good Stuff's Universal Bin Label Holders for my book library totes.  Have you seen these things? 



 I had to have them.  I have tried velcroing on labels and those adhesive labels, but these little treasures go on ANY tote or container and all you have to do is make the label. 

Yes, they do come with a little label for you to write on but I went ahead and made up my own that were  . . . a better fit for me and that works perfectly in the holder.





What do you think?  I think I'm getting a bit ahead of myself but I wanted to get my library going and couldn't wait to share these with you.  If you'd like them, please feel free to download a copy.  All I ask is that you please consider following my blog and they are yours. 



You'll notice on MY picture I have a little number in the corner.  This is how I will label my books so that the kiddos know which book goes in which bin.  If the book has a little sticker on the back with a number 1, they don't have to remember if it's an animal book or a reptile book or whatever, all they need to do is find book bin 1 and put it back in there.  The picture labels are just a way to make 'shopping' for books easier for them.  Also, just as a note: there are some labels with names of book characters such as Clifford or Franklin that have only the label written but not picture attached.  I can't place the picture on the label without getting into copyright trouble.  So they are there for you if you want to cut and paste your own picture to them or leave them blank.  It's up to you.



I have also included labels for your leveled reader book bins as well.  I'll be using them the same way as I do with my other books but for leveled readers there will be a letter on the back of the book for easy referencing as to where the book should be placed.



5. Calm Signals and check in procedures (Do you already have a signal? How will you handle check ins?)
Admittedly, this is tough for me.  I am not a 'calm signal' kind of girl.  I'm a classity-class kind of girl.  I like whole brain teaching class management because I know that my students have to respond to me when I say 'class-class.'  I am willing to give a calm signal a try.  This is what I'm contemplating.  Have you seen these?  Let me know if you have one and you like it.  I'm still trying to find something that 'fits' me and my teaching style. 


6. Using the correct model/incorrect model approach for demonstrating appropriate behaviors. (Will you keep track of inappropriate behaviors? If they are not doing what is expected, then they are calling out for attention...what other ways can you give them some extra attention so that they can be more independent during D5?)

Hmmm...I hate feeding into negative behavior.  I do like how the 'sisters' have the students who are having the most 'trouble' with appropriate behavior, demonstrate the 'right' way to behave.  I also believe that there will be some students that may just need to be given special  'tools' to keep them on track.  That may mean being assigned a specific spot to work in or a specific partner. I'm sure it's going to be a work in progress. I'm anxious to hear whatever one else is going to do for sure.

Well, that's it for me for this week's reflection.  I'm anxious to hear from you all and remember to 'follow' me if you aren't already so you can get all my latest freebies first. 

Also, if you're a blogger, link up to my bloggy pal Tammy's Kindergarten Daily 5 Chaper 3 post by clicking below:


Keep reading!



Monday, June 25, 2012

Getting Ready for Kindergarten Daily 5 Chapter 3!

Are you ready for Chapter 3?  Tammy over at Live, Love, Laugh in Kindergarten has put up our things to think about questions and it's time to get serious.  I'm going have some fun stuff to go over on Wednesday so make sure you check back.  I do have a little preview . . .


I'll be talking about my goodies in these boxes.  I can't wait to show you!
Until then though . . .

Things to think about while reading chapter 3:
1. Establish a gathering place for brain and body breaks. (Do you call your gathering place anything special? A few of my teammates did. Annie called hers the "Family Room" and Kim calls hers the "Learning Space." I need to come up with something better than "the carpet" lol!)
2. Developing the concept of "good fit" books (There are LOTS of examples of different good fit lessons in blogland AND Pinterest)
3. Create anchor charts with students How will these be visual in the room? Where will you store them? What about small spaces?
4. Short, repeated intervals of independent practice and setting up book boxes (How are you going to keep track of stamina? What will you use for book boxes? What are you going to put in those book boxes on the 1st day of school?)
5. Calm Signals and check in procedures (Do you already have a signal? How will you handle check ins?)
6. Using the correct model/incorrect model approach for demonstrating appropriate behaviors. (Will you keep track of inappropriate behaviors? If they are not doing what is expected, then they are calling out for attention...what other ways can you give them some extra attention so that they can be more independent during D5?)


Remember, Tammy is our host this week so you'll want to start there on Wednesday and follow all the bloggers that link up to compare notes and ideas.  And, of course, you'll be back here too. 
See you then.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Visiting Kreative in Kinder and Bringing a Freebie along.

Hey everyone!  I'm visiting my friend Crystal over at Kreative in Kinder today.  I'm sharing a little of my own take on differentiated math stations.  Of course, I don't go a visiting without taking a freebie along with me, so if you want to cash in on my visit, come on over and take a look.
I'll see you there!



Friday, June 22, 2012

Making the most of my small space.

I am a victim of a small classroom.  It's small by kindergarten standards because in kindergarten (as in most early elementary K-2 classrooms) my kiddos need to move.  They need space for dramatic play, blocks, for exploring sand tables and science, for reading, for writing, for 'doing art' and for dancing.  All these things are vital to kindergarten, but they are quickly disappearing from our kindergarten classrooms as there is a greater and more urgent push for teachers to meet standards and expectations.  I've had to get creative and think outside the box when it comes to space. 



My classroom lay out shows many areas have dual purposes depending on the time of day and the activities being conducted.  I don't have assigned seats because my students are moving, flexible groupings are constantly changing and they would never be in the same seat twice in a given day anyway.  Besides, all of our supplies are communal so it doesn't really matter.

I also have students working in the hallway.  I posted about this before but if you would like to revisit it, take a look HERE.



Finally, I feel that the most important thing I can do for my students in regards to our small space is to limit the space I need as a teacher.  Do I really need a big desk?  NO!




I have a computer table and my supplies are located in tins of a peg board.



I actually am even going to give up this space this fall as I move me computer next to my two student stations so I can now have three computers for students use.  It's not like I'm ever sitting at the computer anyway. 

Personal items?  Hey, I have a closet! But . . . I use it for art supplies, snacks and the like! So instead, I put up this cute little over the door, pocket hanging thingy  for those kinds of items. 



By limiting 'my' space and creating 'our' space, I have been able to keep those developmentally appropriate activities that are disappearing from so many kindergarten classrooms.  It's a fair trade I think.  So drop me a line and tell me, what would you be willing to give up to keep your sand table?



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