Friday, August 31, 2012

Classroom Management Hodge Podge and a freebie.

I still have a few days before school starts, but I'm prepping myself and my room for the arrival of a full classroom of kindergarteners. Only a kindergarten teacher understands the feeling of those first days and this will be my biggest class ever. I am making physical adjustments to my room and space, but I have to admit, I'm kinda (ok I'm alot) nervous. 

So as I'm prepping I'm re-acquainting myself with my favorite classroom management tools.  I wish I could tell you that I'm strictly a Whole Brain Teacher or a Love and Logic Teacher, but the truth is that I take the best of many styles that I have found works for me.  It really is a hodge podge of styles and techniques only a few of which I'll highlight here.

Many years ago I fell in LOVE with Love and Logic.  I think I only had one infant child at the time, but I was doing a paper on management and came across Love and Logic. I bought the cds and books and even made my husband listen to them.  I love that there are choices and logical consequences.  It has been a blessing in my own home and in the classroom. Students who refuse to complete work have a choice.  I might say, "listen, you can finish your work now with the rest of the class or you can do it during learning centers this afternoon when everyone else is having fun. It really doesn't matter to me. I'm happy with whichever you choose." Love and Logic really gives a great foundation for management without making it personal or getting upset with the child. There really is so much to it and I'm no expert, but I encourage you to check them out.

I also use a bit of Whole Brain Teaching as well.  That's right, I can "classity class" with the best of them.  I think Whole Brain Teaching is perfect for kindergarten, because it is so responsive and physical.  Multiple intelligences and learning profiles aren't just for learning . . . you also need to consider them with managing kiddos as well.  If you have visual, physical and verbal cues . . .  you can reach everyone. It's funny that when I started using Whole Brain Teaching techniques I practiced them on my three boys at home to see how it would work. That was well over a year ago. Last night when there was a bunch of kids at my house and I needed their attention , I wasn't getting anywhere by saying 'hey kids' so I said "class class!!!!" Every single kid stopped what they were doing and listened to me.  It worked so well in my class last year that my neighbor teacher had her kids asking to use some of the techniques.  I find that by changing it up and making it fun I have the best response.  Make sure you give them a gander.  There is a ton of resources on their website.

One of the things they talk about is classroom rules.  I've adapted some of theirs and created my own.  I found a cute way to display them from Mrs. Ricca's blog and I believe she has a set of freebies there as well.  They are so cute but I needed my own rules and I wanted some different colors so I made a set of my own.


You can download a copy if you'd like by clicking on the picture above. I have hand motions that go with the rules and much of these ideas and things you can find right back at the Whole Brain Teaching website.

I also have a color system for those little monkeys that need reminders on their behavior.  This is my monkey tree.  If your monkey is on the green leaves of the tree, you are following directions and behaving as expected in kindergarten.  Now if you need a little help, a warning or reminder that your behavior should change, your monkey might land on the yellow bananas.  If the behavior continues, your monkey goes to brown and you own me time from learning centers (I never ever take recess away . . . kinders need to move and I totally get that with three boys) and finally, if your behavior continues to decline . . . you'll fall off the tree and owe me 10 minutes of center time and a note goes home to a parent. 


These are the little postcards I had made up through Vista Print for monkeys that fall off the tree. It explains the color behavior system on the back and there is a space where I can write a note explaining what happened to have their child's monkey fall off the tree.  I think I ended up using about 7 of these cards last year.  I'm hoping for the same kind of luck this year as well.



Finally, I think that one of the best management tools I use is finding ways for all kids to find success.  I'll post more about this as the year progresses, but what I have found is that when my kinders find ways to be proud, their behavior tends to reflect that.  For that reason, I have a Shoe Tiers Club, 100s Club, Mileage Running Club, Ball Word Champs (of course) and even a Quicker Zipper Club.  There isn't always a reward involved with these successes.  Usually it's just the right to put their name on a poster. But they LOVE it.  I would love to find even more reasons to give kids a little 'atta boy' when they need it.  What kinds of things do all of you celebrate and how?  I'd love to get some new ideas or hear how your management styles works.

Drop me a line.

I'm linking up with my Freebielicious Pal Mel over at Seusstastic Classroom for Freebielicious Classroom Management linky so make sure you check out everyone else's posts and ideas too.  Just click on the button below to get there.





Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting ready for kindergarten is busy work! Yikes!

It's like one step forward two steps back I swear.  You get one thing completed (or not) and there's something else that needs to be done.

The state of my kitchen table is in permanent disarray.



Yes, that is a computer, cutter and laminator all going at the same time.  Believe me, if my color laser printer hadn't died in the midst of all this mayhem, it would be there too.

It's busy work . . .



animal pieces to be cut on the silhouette



 assembled and glued


laminate to cut


calendar puzzle to organize


bulletin boards to put up, student folders to print and assembly, open house scavenger hunt to organize, name tags, math tubs to label . . . and on and on and on and . . . somewhere in there...I suppose planning should happen.

At the moment my classlist stands at 25 kinder honeys, but I suspect a few add ons over the next few days. Tomorrow starts the first of three PD days and then the long weekend and then . . . SCHOOL starts.  The jury is still out as to whether I'll ever be ready. 


Stay tuned to hear the verdict.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Are you going? Get your ticket!


Teacher's Notebook is holding their Back To School Expo this weekend and you DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS. 

Not only are you going to be able to enjoy Professional Development from these wonderful presenters in the comfort of your home (and PJs if you prefer)


but for $10 (regularly a $19.95 value), you will get over $100 in goodie bag items (WHAT? You get a goodie bag? Darn tootin' ya do . . . and there might be a little something from me in there.) and access to vendors with products at 30% off their regular prices (pssstttt.... that's me, I'll have some for sale items there too).  These sale items will be exclusively available to attendees from August 25-September 1st.

Need more details? Just click on the badge above to find out all you need to know.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Is on-going assessment driving your differentiated instruction?

Ahhhh . . . the start of the school year.  Everything is so fresh and new and exciting.  There's a whole new batch of little honeys about to enter your door.  You're poised and ready to envelope them with all the know-how and wisdom that you can cram in from now until June.  You're anxious to get started . . . there's so much to learn, but WAIT!!!!!


 
Before you do anything, before you plan your guided reading groups and start tiering your math centers, there is something you need to know.  You need to know your students and you need to know their starting points.


Remember the three basic guiding points of differentiated instruction:



 Believe it or not, all kindergarteners do not enter your doors equal in shape, size or readiness.




The first couple of weeks of school is the perfect time for pre-assessing for readiness and understanding.  Allow for exploration of centers, materials and manipulatives and you can't imagine what you find out.  Instead of spending two weeks teaching shapes, in those first few days of school, you might discover that most of your class already has already mastered that topic. Those that have mastered them can move on and expand their understanding. 




I think often, teachers consult their teaching manuals for a guideline of what to teach and when without considering that some of their students may have mastered the material and still others may not even have the prerequisite material needed to begin understanding the concept.  But because the manual says to teach shapes for 10 days, they teach for ten days.  With preassessment and on-going assessment, your instruction will always reflect your students' readiness.

With differentiated instruction, we are constantly assessing.  That doesn't mean that we're giving quizzes and tests.  On the contrary, I don't really do those kinds of assessments at all in my kinder classroom.  Instead, I use several different formative assessing techniques (many of which you all probably use too.)



I use all of these and more (observations, role play, conversation, etc.) but a check lists is most definitely my tool of choice.  I have check lists for letter recognition, counting, sight words . . . but the ones I use the most are my common core checklists.  I keep them separated by ELA on one clipboard and Math on another.  It is easy for me to observe a child making a rectangle from two triangles and quickly mark it off on my checklist or add the date of observation. 


These are what my poor checklists looked like at the end of the year, but you can see they were lovingly used.  I paced them out by quarter so that I could quickly see how to tier for a specific skill and how the class was pacing for the year to meet all standards.  This system might not work for everyone, but it was perfect for me.  It kept me on track and it was a quick visual of where all my students were at any given time. I have since revamped my checklists, added the common core coding that I had had written in by hand previously, and worked out the pacing so it flowed better from my experience.  This is what I have to work with this year:



If you'd like to find out more about these EDITABLE checklists, you can click on the picture above or find the math version HERE and the ELA version HERE.  I have them paced out for each quarter of the year or separated by standard in both color and black and white.

I hope you're able to take the time during these first weeks of the school year to really get to know your students and start mapping an initial plan for their instruction.  The one thing you can say about differentiated instruction, it's never boring. We are always assessing, adjusting and instructing . . .but the time and effort is well worth it when you have the payoff of successfully engaged students, neither bored because instruction is too easy nor frustrated because it is too difficult. 
Good luck and let me know how it goes for you.




Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mass Chaos . . .

It seems like a month since my last post, but I promise, I've been busy.  There was the TpT sale.  (Man, did I get some great stuff.) And with a great sale comes . . . printing, laminating and cutting.  Man you don't know how much I hope there is some great parent amongst my kinder families this fall that is interested in helping out with some cutting.

And I've finally, after several bouts of sick kids and repairmen, have gotten the chance to get into my room.  It's not pretty though . . .



I have a couple of new book shelves coming and so I'm feeling the need to purge and simplify my life in anticipation of Daily 5 and differentiated instruction. 

There is sooooo much paperwork that we teachers accumulate.  But with way things are today, I don't need file cabinets full of ideas and paper.  This is the digital word.  We can keep a digital file cabinet right on pinterest for ideas and teaching resources and a flash drive of all our materials.

So with that in mind . . .  I'm pitching stuff. It's ugly now, but I am all about showing you the truth.  I have 12 days before teachers report to work and kids show up on September 4th.  Do you think I'll be ready? 

You might want to say a prayer for me.  I think I'm gonna need it.


Friday, August 10, 2012

What's In My Cart and Deals for YOU!!!!


It's coming!!!!! Are you excited because I am!  I have my cart FULL.  There are some wonderful products out there and I'm delighted that I get to purchase them ON SALE. 

And of course everything in my store is on sale and I have some NEW  fabulous deals for you too.

For instance, I've put some bundles together that can safe you MAJOR $$$s. 



To purchase each of these individual early learning I-Spy packages would cost you $18.75.  But I packaged them together and am offering them to you for $11.00.  With my 20% store discount, that takes it down to $8.80 and another TpT discount brings it down to $7.92.  From $18.75 to $7.92 is an $10.83 savings.  You can get 5 for what usually costs you 2.


I also have a Dolch Word I-Spy Set as well.  Same math applies. Each of these units are $3.75 each normally but you can save $10.83 by purchasing the bundled unit.  Even if you have one, you are only paying the normal price for two to get all five.  (Don't you love a good sale?)

 



If you have been eyeing my Ball Word units, you know they are normally $4.25 each, but because I have bundles 3 for $10.00 and with the sale, you can get each bundle for only $7.20!


There's even a Dolch Word Bead Bundle . . .  All 11 Word Lists (you only see three in this picture) for just $10.00 minus $2 minus another 80 cents leaves you at $7.20 for 116 pages. 

Of course, all your other favorites (in fact all) like write the room, self-correcting beads and race cars and constructing numbers are all on sale too. 

 
And what's in MY cart?  I'm so excited about these.  Check it out.


I have two items from Caitlin Cabby's TpT store.  The first are these DARLING letters for bulletin boards and such.  They will be so bright and cheery for my room.  I'm gonna use them for a boogle wall and making words station.  Cute, Cute, Cute!!



 
She also has a great Apple unit that I'm gonna pick up.  I think this will be a great item for the beginning of the year here in Michigan. 




From Krissy Miner's shop, I'm grabbing her Survey Packet.  I think this will be a nice addition to my math stations or learning centers.  I like that their are enough for the entire year!!!  It's an activity that is going to appeal to my kinesthetic learners that need to move, my logical thinkers that like to figure things out and my interpersonal students who need to talk to others.  Home Run!!!


I'm also getting her Magazine Scavenger Hunt unit.  I think this will be especially helpful for those kinders that haven't master fine motor skills.  I'm always looking for activities that will move those little fingers and this one lets them work independently at their own level. 




From Tammy at Live, Love Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten, I'm getting this Alphabet Pack (It goes perfectly with Caitlin's Alphabet letters above).  I HAVE to have them!!!




I'm also getting her Classroom Helpers pack.  I can never find one I like and I LOVE this one.

Mary from Sharing Kindergarten has library labels I have my eye on.



And finally from Crystal, over at Kreative in Kinder I'm getting this Zero the Hero unit

and Q and U's Wedding how darling is this? 



 
I'm sure I'll find other things to put in my cart before the big sale starts on Sunday.  I have lots of shopping time left.  I hope take the time and fill yours too.  There's nothing better than shopping in your pjs is there?  Check out these other great items that are going to be on sale from other fabulous bloggers.  Where having a blog hop!

Have fun.



 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back To School Blog Hop -Beads and Freebies!

It's Day 9 of the Back To School Blog Hunt!!! Which means, you have landed here at A Differentiated Kindergarten.  Welcome!  I share this day with Jessica over at Mrs. Stanford's Class. Make sure when you're done here, you hop on over and check out her blog as well.

For any class, but especially for kindergarten, a new school year means exploring new ideas and materials.  I love anything that is hands on and gives my kinders lots of opportunity for building up fine motor muscles.  Beads happen to be one of my favorite tools for letting my students work (they think it's play) with letters and sounds.  But before they can string letter sounds, CVC words or sight words, they need to have the chance to EXPLORE the materials.  In essence, they need to play with them.  Really ANY letter beads will work for these activities.  However, if you want the exact beads I have, you can get them very reasonable from Really Good Stuff.


So one of the first 'literacy' stations (I will be putting these in my Daily 5 Word Work Stations) they will get to 'play' at is the "Bead It" station.  I leave thier first experience of this station pretty open ended, just some pipe cleaners and some plastic string and I let them 'explore' . . .

Some will see how many letters they can get on a pipecleaner (I've been told it depends on how skinny or fat the letter is), others will attempt to make pattern or still others might sort.



I like to offer them some simple tasks after this . . .
Here is a simple mat for sorting letters in their name and not in their name.


And another for sorting capital letters and lowercase letters.



And still another for matching capitals to capitals or lowercase letters to lowercase or you could use these mats to have them match the lowercase letter to it's capital partner and vice versa.



These simple activities that allow your kinders to gradually become familiar with letter beads while learning routines and rules for their use are free for you.  Just click on the pictures above or the one below to grab them.  They are a great way to get your year started.



And if you're interested in more bead activities make sure you check out these aligned to Common Core Standards and including lowercase and capital letter bead versions in each activity:

See Bead Write will let your students work on letter recognition and order.  It's self-correcting and aligned to common core standards.

Read Bead Write!  This independent self-correcting beading activity is tiered to make it possible for your students to work on CVC or CVCC/CCVC words based on their readiness level. 



Bead It!! You can get these Dolch Word Lists in groups of two or the entire 11 lists (220) bundled for sight word work practice.

Coming soon!  Letter Sound Bead Work and CVCe Bead Work.

Thanks for stopping by and make sure you are at tomorrow blog hopper host Heidi at  My Not So Elementary Life and all the other blog hoppers below.






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