KinderGals: August 2014

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Peek at My Week-Week 4-Family Fun and Freebees

Four weeks, already! I know for some of my northern friends this is your FIRST week, but we are finally feeling like we are getting into a routine.
So here’s what’s happening in Megan’s room:
During my morning time I am introducing another one of Shari’s song books. I told you last week how I made them into listening centers. Be sure and look back at Week 3 Peek at my Week if you missed it. I am doing the Letter Family song. You can get the music from Shari’s website or find her on itunes and the music book is in my store.
I can’t believe we are on our last week for Unit 1 in Reader’s Workshop. We are so proud of how our kids are doing. On Friday we will finish up the unit with our celebration.
This week during writer’s we are really working on pictures tell a story. We have found that Megan’s kids are drawing pictures, but then really don’t have a story to tell. So we are going to be talking about characters and settings. Not really worrying about if they know those terms right yet, just that stories have people, animals and places.
We are also introducing our Sound Off chart. We will be doing one of these each week on Monday and then we will have a follow up “have to” center.
You may notice that we are playing some of the same games during our foundational time as last week. I really can’t see making a game and only using it once, the kids never seem to mind playing games more than once!Slide2
During our small group literacy centers I am introducing some of the centers that will become “have to” centers—Cut, Stack, Staple, Read and Sound Off. We use out of these two resources ALL YEAR!
Another “go to center idea”…the unit vocabulary abc books. We use these to have the children label the pictures. It is a freebee (here).
We are still using some of our have to centers as a way to be sure that each child tries out all the centers. Sometimes we think that children don’t select centers simply because they have never tried them or that they don’t even remember them.
Once again you will notice that I have blacked out the centers we haven’t introduced yet. Here is the complete chart.
So here is what Megan’s center chart looks like right now:
We are also introducing our first Post It Note Anchor Chart. We use these charts all year! Originally I really made the first chart to save paper, but here’s what I found it….after reading the first book we wrote everything about it one post it notes and put them on the left side and then the next day we wrote about the second book and put it on the right side. When we said something about the second book THAT we had ALSO said about the first book, I could move the post it note to the middle! This really helped my children to see conceptually what was happening! So, I’m kinda hooked on the whole idea of the post it note chart!
I am also starting to introduce the poetry journal. You can get a copy of the chart and the student poem as a feebee here and here.
During Math we are continuing on with our shape unit, but I am also introducing our number of the week. Each week, we make an anchor chart for a number. It takes several weeks, well 20 to be exact, to do all the numbers. It’s not about learning that “1” is a one. It’s about developing a concept of oneness.  We added in the student page as one of our “have to’s”. We will have done one together, but now I want them to do it alone. In the future I can put it as a have to OR we can just do it together.
I am going to introduce story problems to my kids this week. Keep your eyes opened for a post on Conceptual, Pictorial, and Abstract learning in math, but until then let me just say that the kids will have clip art pictures of cookies that they will manipulate to figure out the answer.
The “have to” in Area 1 is a sequencing activity for the house cookies we made last week. One thing I have learned from the upper grade teachers is to teach kids to always go back to the text. So, I will put a copy of the cookbook on the table for the kids to use to sequence the events.
We finish up math centers with some of the same “can-dos” as last week. We really only change these out about every three weeks!
You can download a copy of the peek at my week (here).
Hope you all have a great week. Be sure and hop over to Deedee’s Blog and link up for the Peek at My Week or read with other teachers are doing!
peek at my week button
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Classroom Set UP Your Questions Answered Here!

WOW, just WOW! Andy and I just spent a week seeing a very tiny part of our largest state, Alaska! I went kicking and screaming, not a fan of cold weather, but it was worth every shake and shiver! Soooooo, beautiful. Be sure and put it on your bucket list! While I was gone, I had scheduled the posts on classroom set up. I came home to quite a few questions about how we make it all happen in Megan’s room. I decided to just do a separate post and answer the questions.
The most popular question….What is on your tables and how do you do it?
We use the vinyl tablecloths that you can pick up in almost any retail store. Some of our favorites: Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Big Lots! These are usually the cheapest with the largest selection, but you can also find them in places like Target and Wal Mart. They usually run in price from $2-$6.
Since we change them seasonally, we are always looking AFTER the season to buy the ones for the next year. This way we can get them cheaper on clearance.
To attach them to the tables, here’s what we do:
Square tables:
*For square tables we use the double sided carpet tape.
*You can get this at places like Home Depot or anywhere that sells carpet.
*Peel off the paper from one side of the tape and stick it directly to the table.
*We run a strip along both of the long sides of the table.
*Now peel off the paper from the other side of the tape.
*It works best if you have help for this part: Each of you hold one side of the tablecloth and lower it to the table, pulling it tightly.
*It will stick to the tape.
Non Square Tables:
*These take a little more work!
*Be sure and buy the longest rectangular table cloths, I can’t remember the length!
*Lay the tablecloth on the table and trim around the cloth leaving enough over hang to tape the cloth UNDER the table.
*Then, just cut and tape as you move around the table.
*If a hole is torn in the cloth, and it will, simply cover with a piece of clear tape.
The next most popular question: Where do you get those foam squares?
You can actually get them in lots of places. They sell packs of them at Lowes, Sam’s, and several other places like that. The only problem with those places is the color selection. Since Megan wanted to have purple and green squares, (I had used the red, yellow and green that were in Lowes), she found a place on line where you can order by the color. The good thing about this…you can order a few or as many as you need. So now she can replace a few squares each year that might have been damaged.
Here is the place where she ordered them:
We also had some questions about Reader’s Workshop:
“How long do students keep their books and do you have them shop on a certain day of the week?”
“And, are the initial books not from your classroom library that is so beautifully organized?”
So first of all, here is the organization that she is referring to. We divide our library into 5 libraries and have them divided around the room. You can read more about it on our centers post (here).
Here is how we start the year with book shopping. After a series of mini lessons from our Blasting Off with Reader’s Workshop using the anchor chart above, we are ready to shop for books.  We use the collection of books that were used for the active engagement portion of the mini lessons for our first book shopping session. We lay out the books from each of the 3 mini lessons, reminding the children of how we can “read” those books, and allow them to select a few.
1. So each child will have a baggie of 6-10 books that they have selected. They are stored in the green tubs that you see above unless it is Reader’s Workshop time.
2. Once a child reaches an independent A level, 95% accuracy, we also start adding leveled books from our leveled library. See the picture above.
3. We change the books every few weeks. You will know if you have waited too long to change their collection if their stamina decreases! To change the collection, we simply remove the books from the baggies and allow them to select 6-10 new books.
4. As far as shopping in the classroom library….we usually wait until they are “all set” in the process. It usually takes about a month or so before we open up the library.
5. We open the class library gradually, to a few children at a time. Opening it to the whole class is chaos! How do I know that? How do you think!? Winking smile
6. All of the detailed mini lessons are included in our Reader’s Workshop Unit 1.
Here’s another question:
“Please share how you use your 'reading buddies' and share how you introduce this (and when). To your Ks. I've always wanted to use this idea but haven't tried it yet.”
1. We introduce working with a partner in month 2 during our Powerful Partnership Unit.
2. It takes us a WHOLE month to really teach children how to read, talk, and share books with partners.
3. Each bullet from each chart is a separate mini lessons.
4. We change partners about every 2 weeks. Again, if their partner stamina decreases, you have probably waited too long to change partners. We use the reading buddy chart and attach their pictures with velcro.
5. Partners have the same, or close to the same, reading ability.
6. Their partner working time is usually half as long as the stamina they are built working independently.  So if they have a 6 minute stamina of working by themselves, now add on 3 more minutes of partner time. They will now have a 9 minute stamina.
6. Detailed Mini Lessons and the anchor charts are included in our Reader’s Workshop Unit 2.

The last question is one that I hear all the time? “Just how big is that room?” To tell you the truth, I have never measured. So I sent Megan a text and told her to measure and here’s what we found out. It is: Oops....sorry we forgot to take the measuring tape.  Look back later for the answer!

The main reason it looks so big is the absence of  a “table spot” for each child. We assign our kids a carpet spot and do all of our large group teaching from there.  Be sure and check back to some of the other posts on classroom set up and I think that it will all make sense on how we make that work.
Thanks guys for all of your questions. As always, blogs are interactive. So it is great to hear your comments and questions!
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Peek At My Week-Week 3-Family Fun

This week we are starting our unit on Family, diving deeper into Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop, and developing more independence during our center times.
In the morning we have almost finished introducing everything for the carpet bag, but we still have a few things to go. Slow and steady….
Reader’s Workshop finds us having children see that we are all reader’s, just in different ways.
Writer’s Workshop time is spent introducing some of the tools that writer’s use. It is hard to not get inpatient, and rush with introducing each thing.  There are so many things I want to tell them and show them…just remember slow and steady.
Do you see a pattern here? I keep trying to remind myself to not get in too big of a hurry.There is plenty of time to teach everything. At the beginning it is most important for me to set those routines and procedures, have everyone understand how to do things independently, and get the schedule going.
During our foundational skills time, I am playing some games that will become “staple” games in that we will use the same format, just change the clip art and the standard during the year. I am also introducing one of the music books. These books will be added to our music center.
Here’s how:
  • I purchased the song from Shari Sloane. It is on her Get Ready! CD You can get it from her website or you can find her on itunes. 
  • I made the little music book to go with the song. (I did get her permission Smile)
  • I took a blank CD and burned just this one song on the CD.
  • I purchased some sticky back CD pockets from Office Depot.
  • Now, stick the CD pocket onto the back of the book and insert the CD.
  • Kids can now put the CD into the player all by themselves!
Starting this week, we only have our play centers opened during free choice last thing of the day. So now we are going to using the spreadsheet that you see. You can find a copy of it below if you want to see a larger copy. I have blacked out the ones that we haven’t introduced yet.
We are starting our Unit on Shapes in Math. We waited a few weeks to start a unit so that we could introduce some of the basic games that we want the kids to be able to do in the “can do” tubs and the “have to” tubs. These activities have to be ones that the kids can do on their own with just a sample.
During our large group time, we will make a chart for a different shape each day. While I am making the big chart, the kids can also make their little books (not in the picture, but are included in the unit).
We are also starting our first Small Group DI Unit. I am super excited to use these. Megan is too! She is so excited that we have laid out what to do with each group. Not only can she do it, but it is something she can hand to another adult and they can easily follow along with what to do using the scripted lessons.
You can download your own copy of the peek at my week here.

Be sure and head over to Deedee's blog and see what others are doing this week.
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Daily Schedules and Lesson Plans

Let's talk about "When?".  When do you do things…like schedules, plans, and management? Time management and scheduling can make or break us as teachers! On days when I'm off my game, when I don't have my plans, when I'm not sure what I'm doing...I can tell.  And I pay for it! The brain learns by pattern. That means, when we don't have a schedule, a predictable routine, procedures and routines, the brain is spending all of it's power trying to figure out what is going on! There is no brain power left to learn the standard for the lesson!
Last week I did a post on the classroom management system that Megan uses in her classroom. You can read about that (here).
You may also want to check out these posts on how we manage and operate our:
So what about our daily schedule? When I am out presenting to teachers, I get two questions almost every time.
1. Where do you keep all of this stuff? So here is a picture of MY garage. We have a 3 car garage and I had the builder put a wall to segment off one of the garages. This is where Megan and I both keep our teaching stuff. This is an older picture when just MY stuff was in there. So you can only image what it looks like now that I share the space with Megan!
2. How do you fit everything in? Here is our daily schedule. Scroll to the bottom and grab it as a FREE download. You might already have it. It is from our Ultimate Open House Scavenger Hunt Pack that has other forms to help you get things organized at the beginning of the year.
As far as lesson plans be sure and check out my Peek at my Week Pinterest Board.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why Does Organization Matter?

Over the last few weeks I posted a series called “Classroom Set Up 2014”.  Well over at Blog Hoppin today we are sharing the Why of teaching. Why does organization matter?
How easy for me to do todays post, I already did it! Click on this link and it will take you right to my post on organization that I wrote earlier this month!
Then, hop on over to Blog Hoppin to see what great organization tips you can get from some other bloggers!
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Where do we Teach?

Hey this is Kim and Megan and we want to show you where we teach!
Megan teaches kindergarten at Alexander II Math and Science Magnet School in Macon, GA. It’s a really sweet little school k-5 in an historic building. A magnet school is a neat concept. Although it is a public school, parents have to apply for their children to go there. So, it is a very diverse population!
Megan has a great team of teachers! Megan has been there for 7 years and is the senior member of her team! Yep! She’s been there longer than anyone else!
Here are some pictures from Megan’s room. Be sure and check back to other posts that we have done about Megan’s room during our Classroom Set Up 2014.
Now, where does Kim teach?
After 30 years as a public school teacher, Kim works around the country sharing tips with other teachers. What a job, right? She gets to meet lots of teachers, work with lots of kids, and visit some pretty cool places! She works with groups as few as a couple dozen to groups as large as 750! You can check out Kim’s schedule (here) to see if she is going to be in your area!Slide8Slide9
One of the bonus of Kim’s job is getting to meet up with other presenters and blogging buddies! Kim has made some pretty great friends this way!Slide7
Now, some days this is Kim’s classroom:
When not on the road, Kim shares her time between working in her office, taking care of her grandbabies (her favorite thing to do), and working in Megan’s and Ginny’s classrooms.
Hope you enjoyed this little peek into the places where we work!
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Meet Megan and Kim

Blog Hoppin BTS-01
Hi! It’s Megan and Kim with a little peek inside of who we are!
So here’s what I love…grandbabies, family, warm places, diet coke, popcorn, and anything outside!Slide1
Yes, that’s me. I come from a military family of 5 girls. (My baby sister is MUCH younger than the rest of us, so she isn’t in this picture.  She is only a few years older than Megan.) My poor dad, he wanted a boy so badly…He loved and spoiled us and tried to teach us how to play softball, but to no avail. No athletes in this group!
I have a very strong group of women in my family, we outnumber the boys BIG time! Matthew, our oldest grandson, was the first boy since my son Tyler! By the way, that’s my baby sister—far left.
I am married to Andy, the love of my life for 30 years. We meet in March, were engaged in April and married that same July. People thought I shouldn’t marry him because I couldn’t possibly know him! But, ask anyone who knows us and they will tell you he is perfect for me.  We really do compliment each other..I’m loud, he’s quiet; I’m an extrovert, he’s an introvert; he likes to cook, I hate to cook; I like to work in the yard, he hates it. But, we both enjoy our family, spending time with them and each other. Retirement has brought us some extra time to spend off on some pretty wonderful trips together!
Did we really raise these two? I am so incredibly proud of them.
I love to go on trips with just Andy, but there is nothing like a family trip to build some strong relationships. Andy and I both are truly committed to our children growing as adults, as friends. Now, not every minute of every trip is drama free, let’s just keep it real, but when we look back those are the times that we laugh about the most!
This is Megan’s family---Megan, Nick and Matthew! They love baseball, movies, and anything Matthew!
This is Tyler’s family…Tyler, Ginny and the newest member-Brody! The love camping, boating, biking (Ginny is the best cheerleader), and right now I think they would love a little sleep! Babies are hard work!
Now I love my kids. Like love them more than life itself.!!!! These two boys are the most wonderful gift that my kids could have given me! I can’t believe I get to be their Gam! The best part is, I get to stay home with them when I am not traveling. I don’t get a lot done on those days, like most days I am still in my pj’s when they all get home from work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. No teaching, no blogging, no presenting, and no tpting will every compare to the time I get with them.
Some people were born into your family, they have no choice but to call you family. But others, are picked! I really do have the best friends—from high school friends, to teaching buddies, to presenting buddies, to blogging buddies, to people you meet because you share the same passion in life—these are the people I get to call my friends.
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