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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Good things are happening in West Virginia!

Last week I was working at a school in West Virginia where I have done some previous staff development. So, as I was doing some observations, it was great to see some of the ideas I had shared being implemented. The photo that shows the munchkin with the clip board--is doing the survey center. Here they write their own questions and then they walk around the room and survey their classmates. The middle picture shows the clip behavior system. The clip system isn’t my idea! As a matter of fact, Megan is the one who taught me about it. But I had shared that system with them and was pleased to see it in use. If you want to read more about it, see this post.
The stacking drawers are for center storage. I have my class divided into 5 center zones. There is one of these drawers in each zone. So, the kids rotate through the zones, visiting one zone each day. When they finish their “have to” work, they are able to select things from the drawers until center time is over. Here is an earlier post about managing literacy centers.
Let me say this….these teachers might have already been doing these activities in their room before I came. I know we can have similar ideas. I just know that I have worked with them in the past and they MIGHT have implemented this idea AFTER the staff development.
We did work on center management and here are two ways that I saw evidence they were “managing those centers”! The photo on the left…The teacher has the colored rectangles attached with Velcro. Each day she moves the color down to know which group will do which activity. The photo on the right…The teacher has five areas set up in her room. Each area has one of these shelves and a stacking tray. Each area has a different color theme.Slide8
Here were a few great anchor charts I saw. The one of the left was from a second grade class and the one on the right was from a kindergarten class.Slide9
The two kindergarten classes that I visited were learning about shapes. The photo on the bottom (above) shows a chart that the teacher made with them during a mini lesson about shapes we might see on a trip to the beach. Then, the photo on the top shows how the children worked during centers to each contribute to the mural using ideas from the anchor chart. One thing that I loved, is that this teacher had saved last years mural to show as a model. What a great idea for our visual learners!
Shape Centers….BTW, I do have a pack on tpt for the common core shape standards. You can see it (here).
I think this was my favorite thing I saw all day. After, worktime (centers) the teacher had the children walk around the room to see what their friends did during math. When the teacher and I were talking, I told her how much I loved it. Then, I had one of those “YOU KNOW WHAT?” moments. You know how common core encourages, well really requires, us to allow time for peer to peer interaction, sharing, and discussion? So I thought, what if when they are finished with their gallery walk, they went back to the carpet and shared with their elbow partner something they would like to try tomorrow, something that was interesting, something that they had never thought to do, etc.  This is why we collaborate! By the two of us talking about the sharing time, we were able to expand on an already great idea! Loved it!Slide12
This picture is evidence of more common core work. We need to help the children see how math is all around them—mathematize their world! Other examples might be: We only have 5 swings. How can we make it so that it is fair?  or Do we have enough ___ so that everyone gets one? How can we figure that out? or How many people should get in each line for the water fountain so that we all get done about the same time? Slide13
Finally, here are some twists on some old ideas! We’ve all played boggle before. But, I love this idea. They have the letters attached with Velcro so that each week they can change the letters. Then, the kids use the recording sheet to make as many words as they can. LOVE IT! The teacher actually gave me a copy that had the address for where she got the recording sheet. But unfortunately, only half of the address is on the form. Leave a comment below if you know where you can find the recording sheet, please. Smile
The other picture is an overhead center. Now for you young folks, you might not know what this is..but I can promise you that unless you are in a brand new school, there are some of these in closets somewhere. They make great centers. In a second grade class where I was visiting, the teacher had great open ended centers where the children were able to create their own learning. So, some of her kids where playing this game. One would write the spelling words with mistakes, then the other kiddo would be the “editor” and correct the mistakes. How fun is that?
I am excited to be going back to this school in a few weeks to do some modeling and some work on Reader’s Workshop. Can’t wait to get in there!
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Are you near St. Louis?


Super excited to be coming to MO this week to do the DI for the Little Guy Seminar. (Click on the photo above for details) But….what makes it even sweeter? I am going to get to spend some time with my super sweet friend Deedee Wills. So, she and I got to thinking and we decided to see if any of ya’ll want to meet up, too! If you click on the brochure below, it will take you to Deedee’s post with all the details! Hope you can make it to the conference, but if not hope to see you at the meet up! 

Then, I saw that  Katie from Little Warriors had it on her blog, too! Click on the photo below to see her post!

Are you in?

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What’s Megan Been Up To? And What About Kim?


Do you know how much I miss this? I loved being able to pop into Megan’s room anytime I wanted to get my “kid” fix. She often sends me pictures of things her kiddo are doing and here are a few from this week. These hats are nothing new, as I found out this week. You know how you have an idea, you really think you were the only one to think of it, only to find out that several other teachers do the same thing? Well that was true of these. HOWEVER, we did change how we do them! Here is how we did the silly hats—common core style! The kids had to spin a spinner 0-10 (included in the Day 100 pack). They put that many dots of one color on one of their strips. Then, they had to determine how many more to make a ten and put that many of another color dot. They did this for all 10 strips. We also had a recording sheet where they put their number combinations to make a ten! Slide2

Here is another idea that Megan used this week. I teamed up with my super sweet, creative teaching partner and friend, Wendy Gilstrap, to do the Day 100 Pack. This was one of her ideas in the pack. Just loved it! They made a Zero, the Hero glyph. These photos show Megan’s class doing their analysis of the data! Click on the photos to find the pack on tpt.

So that’s what Megan was doing this week, what about me? Well I was in West Virginia working in two different districts. On Wednesday, I did classroom observations to get ready for Thursday when I was going to do some model lessons and some presenting on Reader’s Workshop. Noticed I said “Was Going To…” Well, that’s because it snowed Wednesday night and school was cancelled for Thursday. Really? There was an inch of snow and school was cancelled? I thought we only did that in the south. Come to find out, the ice on the narrow, rural roads makes it unsafe for the buses…good reason to cancel school.


So my good friend Kathy picked me up at the hotel and we headed to the outlet mall. I have gone absolutely baby crazy! We hit all the baby stores, but these were my favorite find. Are you kidding me? Baby swim trunks? Well, since his Gammy has a pool, we had to get a few pairs. And what about those sunglasses? Have you ever? (Can you tell I’m just a little excited?) I did finish the week on Friday in West Virginia presenting about Writing Common Core. We were also going to work on the reading foundational skills. We were only getting started when we found out that they were on early dismissal for ANOTHER snow event. So, we packed up a few hours early and I headed back to DC. The hour and a half drive took me three hours! Roads were closed and I don’t know my way around to know any alternate routes, but thanks to Kathy’s husband he helped me navigate--through the phone!

While in the hotel on the snow day, I also had time to finish up on the Valentine Party Pack that Wendy and I put together.


Here is one of the activities from the pack.


This game is played like cootie. It always amazes me the number of people who have never played cootie. It is a “sure-enough” game that you buy in toy stores. I like to take that format and turn it into all kinds of games. To make the love bug they roll the dice to determine which part of the bug they get to add. The patterns for the parts are included in the party pack so that all you have to do is put it on the copier and copy! No tracing and cutting for you! The kiddos can cut their own or you can cut if out for them to speed it up! Click on the photos to find the pack on tpt.

Later this week I am going to share some of the great ideas I saw while doing my observations. See you then….

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oklahoma, Fundraiser, and Giveaway…plus a little common core!


I just had another great week of hanging out with some super fun teachers! I started the week in Austin, TX with the first grade teachers at the Texas First Grade Teachers Conference. After two great days, and a little Mexican food, I headed to Oklahoma City for the Destination Common Core Seminar! With around 135 k-1 teachers, principals, and district office personnel, we looked at ways to make the common core standards fun and engaging for our little ones. While there, I met these two new bloggers: Tammy Klinger of Storybook Cafe and Barbara Klinger at First Grade Delight. Tammy did a post about the conference on her blog with a special shout out to my good friend Sarah Cooley!


This is one of the slides from the conference. This shows how I set up my math centers so that I am sure I am hitting all areas of the common core. The new standards are taught during the mini lesson. Then, the center areas are for review of previously taught standards or a preview of ones to come. I can also pull small group during the center time based on my formative assessments so that I can target specific common core standards. Slide5


Each “have to” is stored in these plastic shoe boxes. I use the yellow and green tags to keep up with literacy or math centers and the animals tell which area of the room that center belongs in.


Once the kiddos finish their have to activity, then they check out the storage container in their area for some things they “can do”. There are 5 of these containers, one for each center area. The drawers can have math games, manipulatives, books or other math type activities. My friend Shari Sloane has some great math game freebees on her website

These are the upcoming common core seminars so you can see if there is one in your area.

Indianapolis, February 6-7:

Baton Rouge, March 4-5:

Tampa,May 1-2:


Please click on this button so that we can all support Jodi Southard. She has put together this fabulous fundraiser to raise money for a child at her school needing a heart transplant. It is a great cause and you get lots of great things just for donating to a cause you would donate to anyways! The story will make your heart melt and make you pull your own children a little closer when you snuggle up with them this afternoon.


Looking for another way to get some great products? Check out this giveaway on Erica’s blog by clicking on the picture! You won’t have to plan a thing for February if you win—it will all be planned for you!

Have a great weekend and enjoy your day if you are off Monday! Since I am in DC, I plan to check out the parade and do a little exploring around the city during the festivities! I know I’ll be wearing my cuddle duds!

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hooray for MLK Day!

In January we remember Dr. Martin Luther King! This post contains fun, engaging activities that are sure to build knowledge about this important man in history.
Slide18Can you believe that MLK day is just around the corner? Time is flying by! Here are some of the things we are doing in Megan’s room to celebrate this Famous American. Here is our craftivity where we are recording all that we learn about MLK.Slide13
This photo was from last year! I can’t believe how great they did with this activity.
First I asked them, “What was wrong?” We talked about the things that Dr. King saw that he wanted to change. Then, I asked “What did Dr. King do?” and we talked about all the things Dr. King did to make things better. Finally, I asked them, “Then, what happened?” and we talked about the results of his work today. They did amazing when we walked through each step.Slide7
Another thing we did was to use clip art to help solve this story problem. So, why clip art? Well, in Singapore Math we know that children learn “CPA”—that’s conceptual, pictorial, abstract. That means we must have children learn the concept using materials that can be manipulated and moved so that they can make meaning. So is this conceptual or pictorial? I say conceptual. To me, since conceptual means that the children can manipulate the items to help solve the problem, they can move the clip art pictures around to make that meaning. Pictorial would be if I had asked them to draw a picture to show their understanding. Don’t you just love the writing? It says, “Him and Him can share a ball. Him and him can share a ball.  Him and him can share a ball.”
Here is an activity to work on number combinations. Dr. King actually had 4 kids-2 girls and 2 boys. I gave them clip art and they came up with ways to make 4 kids. Then, they glued down the black and white clip art and recorded their number combinations.
These are a few of the activities in my Hooray for MLK Day. You can see it by clicking (here) or on any of the pictures.
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Makeover…TPT style!

I’m sure most of you know my sweet friend, Deedee Wills, from Mrs. Will’s Kindergarten. Well, she is one smart cookie!The other day, she sent me a text and told me she wanted to talk to me about my store. She had been trying to find a packet in my store and wasn’t able to find it!
We each have our gifts, and mine isn’t technology! Fortunately, I have surrounded myself with people who are technology gurus…Andy (my sweet husband), Deedee Wills (friend extraordinaire)….
So I called Deedee later that day and after a little chit chat to catch up on each other’s lives, she told me she wanted to help me organize my store! I think she knows how challenged I am and was coming to my rescue.
So here’s what I have done, with lots of help from Andy, Megan and Deedee!Slide3
First of all, Deedee made me these buttons/banners. Then, I made a list of all the products that I wanted to come up when you clicked on each one. Finally, Andy made it work. So, if you are looking for Winter…January/February Activities and Ideas, click on the “Cold Hands…Warm Heart” banner and you will see a list of all the things I have developed to fit that category. And, the “Math for all Seasons” button will take you to math resources that you can use all year, not just for one or two weeks!
The next thing Deedee suggested was for me to really look at my custom category(s) to be sure that the items that I wanted  were actually coming up when you clicked on the titles. When I tried clicking on some of the categories,  random things were coming up that shouldn’t and some items that should be coming up weren’t. I decided to do a total makeover here. I gave Andy a new list of categories that I wanted and which items were suppose to be coming up when you click on them. He did his magic by looking for words in the descriptions that were making items come up that didn’t belong and adding “key words” to make others appear!  Slide1
The last thing I did was to work on the “quick find” feature. Before, if I typed in “math” things would come up that had nothing to do with math. So, I tried to think, “What are some key words that I would use to find things from my favorite sellers using this feature?” I typed in each of those categories to see what came up. Then, I made a list of the ones that were coming up that shouldn’t and the ones that weren’t coming up that should. Now, while this isn’t an exact science, it sure is a lot better than it was! Okay, so this took two days to do! I think it will be way worth it to help us find the items we are looking for.
Now, I am sure some of you might be laughing when you read this post and for that I am glad that I made you laugh! These are things you can’t believe others don’t already know. So this post was merely entertainment for you. But, for those of us that are a “little” challenged with technology this post might help you navigate tpt a little easier, find things a little quicker or help you with some tips to organize your own store. Either way, here’s to tpt!
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Here Comes January…Where will I Be?

I hope to see some of you in January! Click on the buttons to learn more about each conference!Slide2Slide1
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