Saturday, July 28, 2012

New York Teacher's College Notes!!!

Hola chicas and possibly chicos! (I wonder if any guys read this kind of stuff..) I finally got around to typing up my notes for the latest conference I went to.  I was able to attend the New York Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project conference.  Now I would love to say that I got to go to New such luck.  Our district brought them here.  I'm not complaining!  It was awesome!  If you have no idea who I am talking about, think, "Lucy Calkins, Jennifer Serravallo", you know the reading and writing gurus.  So sit back and relax as I condense a week's worth of fabulous training into one document.

Freebie Fridays

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

The summer went by way too fast! My school built an addition to fit all of our lovely students. I am one of the lucky ones to get a new room. I love setting up my classroom. It is the only time during the year where I get to spend all of my time organizing my room. I take my time to set it up because once it is arranged, I don't change it again. It would take an act of congress to get me to change my room once school begins. Is anyone else like that? 
I love to share stories with my students. My second grade teacher used to tell us funny stories about her life outside of school. I still remember them. So, I thought I would share my experience of setting up my classroom with my students. What better way to do that than when I am getting a new room. I had a chance to see my room last week so of course I had to take pictures. I'm hoping this will get me motivated to know how I will set everything up before I get there. Once my boxes and furniture are moved I will take more pictures before I unpack. I will continue to take pictures so my students can see the process. Here are a few pictures I have taken:

I love my cubbies, counter top, cabinets, and most of all my sink!!!! Also, the first door that you see is the bathroom and it has a normal size potty:) My other room had a toilet that was about a foot off the ground and it was about the size of a basketball. Kindergarten boys have not had enough practice aiming for that little toilet....that's all I will say about that:)

This room was designed for kindergarteners, so
all of our whiteboards are moved down. The door goes out onto the playground. The only thing better would be to walk out on the beach!

Smart board and two whiteboards on either side with bulletin boards! I'm in heaven! I am so excited about the next picture! 

Wait for it......

I'm so excited about having a phone in my room! I had to walk to the office, which seems like a good mile, to get to a phone room. Then, they were usually occupied. Now I can be lazy, sit at my desk and chat with a parent! I will still encourage email as my favorite way of communication!   

I have posted a lot of pictures of my room because I will use the pictures to go along with  "Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten".  I am going to teach a connections lesson. I'm going to talk to students about ideas that pop into your head while reading a story. I will tell students that when I read this story, it reminds me of getting my classroom ready. I will show my pictures  and talk about it. Then, I am going to introduce turn and talk with my students. I will have them turn and talk to their neighbor about how they got ready for kindergarten. Then, we will make a predictable chart. Click on the picture below to download the charts. I'm going to transfer the charts onto chart paper but you do what works for you!
Do you share pictures and stories of things you do outside of the classroom with your students?
Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Editable Calendar Pack and...Zombies.

Hello peeps!  I hope your summer is still going strong!  Have you heard of this new 5K run that is starting around the country?  It is the Zombie Run Obstacle Course.  They make the course look like a quarantined area and people dress as zombies and try to take your flags which represent your health. (kind of like flag football...)  Well I am NOT a runner, but I love zombie stuff.  I know, weird, right?  I've watched that show The Walking Dead on AMC.  It is pretty good.  Anyway, I am going to give it a shot!  I started doing the Couch to 5K with an app on my phone about two weeks ago.  If you knew me, you would be shocked!  It is sweating like a pig kind of hard, but I secretly like it.  I am going to try my best to stick with it!  I want to outrun the ZOMBIES!  Wish me luck!

On the zombie note, I just got back in from running outside for the first time.  Usually, I run on a treadmill.  This was SOOOO much harder!  What is up with that?  Anyway, I felt rejuvenated or like I was on drugs, so I knocked out one of my many "before school starts" projects.  I make a calendar every year and hang it on the wall by my desk so I can keep track of my "life".  This year I made it so that other people, like you, can use it and make it your own.  You can edit this bad boy!  I even have some go to add ons that you can cut and paste such as No school, Report Cards, Conferences, etc.  I hope you find this useful.  I have a preview file so you can see if it would work for you. When you go to the TPT store, just click Download Preview File.  If you like it, you can get the whole year.

Have a great day! I you know how to kill a zombie?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Word Study Winners Announced!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the comments! You really know how to make a girl feel special!  I was worried that last post was just too long, so thanks to everyone who hung in there and read it!

So I seriously wrote names out on paper and put them in a baggie to mix them up.  Here are the winners!

Drum roll please...........

And the winners of the Word Study Year Long Unit are....

Amy Benson
Mrs. K
Kristin Jackson
Megan @ Third Grade in the First State
Mrs. Cook

Check your emails ladies!

The unit is available for purchase at my TPT.  All the work is done for you!  Check it out!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Word Study Wowza!

If you are crazy dedicated like me, you are already getting ready for the new school year! One thing I just finished was revising my Word Study (Spelling) words from last year.  My third grade team and I tried out a new "program" last year that we really loved!  It requires some work in the beginning, just like everything else we do, but it is totally worth it!  Hang in there for a LONG post!  Don't worry, if you make it to the end, there is something in it for you!

Where Do I Start?

At the beginning of the year, you will be establishing routines and assessing your students.  For the first 2-3 weeks you will assess your students’ knowledge of high frequency words.  I get my HFW lists from Beth Newingham at the Scholastic website. You can of course use any set of lists that you want.  Now this may sound complicated, but bear with me. There are a few different ways you can assess your students.  First of all, copy all the HFW lists and put them into a binder or folder for each student.  We keep ours in our P.I.R.A.T.E. Binder.

1.     Whole Group: (this is what I do, as it takes a lot less time) 
Based on students’ DRA scores when they come in my classroom or other records I have, I start kiddos out on a list that I think will be challenging for them.  For example, Tommy gets list A, Sally gets list B, and George gets list C.  I do this for all kiddos.  I then tell them their list number.  I give the spelling assessment as a whole class.  I will say, “1A: neighborhood, 1B: picture, 1C: wear.”  Students are told to listen for their list only and to write down their words only.  You may be saying, “She is nuts!”, but believe me, it works and the kids love it because they really have to listen.  After I give about 20 words a day, we grade the words together as a class or I take them home and grade them.  Any words kiddos got correct, they will highlight on their High Frequency Word List.  Words that are wrong, are left blank.  These will be the words the kiddos have to study for their test.  They study five a week, in order of their HFW list.

Small Groups: While kiddos are reading or working on something else, call small groups of students that are on the same level over to a table and give the words like you would a regular spelling test. After I give about 20 words a day, we grade the words together as a class or I take them home and grade them.  Any words kiddos got correct; they will highlight them on their High Frequency Word List.  Words that are wrong are left blank.  These will be the words the kiddos have to study for their test.  They study five a week, in order of their HFW list.  Repeat for the other groups.

1    Parent Volunteer:  If you are lucky enough to have a parent volunteer, you could give her a small group of kiddos with the same list, or one kiddo at a time.

I DO NOT do all HFW lists at the beginning of the school year or else we would never get started on our real lists.  When I notice kiddos are running out of words, I will give a little informal test during a conference or I will assign them words based on the words they miss in their writing.

Once kiddos have a sufficient amount of words, you will teach them the procedure for the spelling tests.

Test Procedure:

Monday: Every Monday, you will give a pretest using the pretest words for that unit. These words can be found on the Teacher word lists.  Students will never see these beforehand.  All kiddos will simply write the words on a sheet of notebook paper.  We grade these together in class.  I am watchful for the couple of kiddos that have difficulty being honest. J  If students miss one or none, they will Study List A for the week.  This is the challenge list.  If they miss two or more, they get List B.  You would be surprised how many kiddos try really hard to get List A.  The best thing is, they will fluctuate between List A and B all year. 

 After this or sometimes during morning work, kiddos are given their test back from the previous week.  Any words they missed, on HFW list, automatically become part of this week’s High Frequency List.  They will write this on their Word Study Unit List where is says High Frequency Words.  If they need new HFW, they will choose them from the lists that they did at the beginning of the year.  Make sure all words that are spelled correctly are highlighted now.  They love this part!

We also have a mini notebook where we write our five HFW for the week.  This notebook is used during the test on Fridays.  I will explain why a little later.

Still with me?

Tuesday-Thursday: Word Study Activities
These are the days that we complete all kinds of word study work individually, with partners, and in groups.  Students have a Word Study notebook where they keep any work or games.

Friday: Test day
Hand out a Spelling Test to every child.  Have them write List A or B at the top.  Now you will say the words for each list.

Test Words: For example…

“1A: happy   He was happy when he saw his puppy.  Happy
1B: saw   I saw my dog in the yard.  Saw”


“2A: serious  The expression on her face was very serious.  Serious
2B: look    Please look at me.   Look”


I say the words back to back with not much of a break between list A and B.  The kiddos may struggle at the beginning, but that is why you model, model, model and practice, practice, practice!  This will save you a lot of heartache and a sub will be able to come in and do this with no problem!

Applied List:  These are the five words that have the word family or pattern that students do NOT get a head of time or get to study.  Choose five words from the Teacher List of the Applied Words.  Everyone gets the same five.  When you grade these, only grade the pattern for the week, not the entire word!

High Frequency List:  Your job is over.  Now you are going to monitor your students.  Assign each student with a Spelling Partner.  This is where the mini notebook comes in.  At the beginning of the week, students wrote their high frequency words on a page in the notebook.  Now they will switch their notebooks with a partner and the partner will give them their five words.  Students will write the word CORRECTLY in a sentence. (so they have to know the meaning).  The bottom of the page was made so it can FOLD over.  This way, kiddos can only see the High Frequency Part and NOT the rest of the test.

Here is what it would sound like with Jack and Jill.

Jack: Your first word is “happy.”
Jill: Your first word is “octopus.”
NOW they stop and each write their word in a sentence.  This saves A TON of time instead of Jack waiting for Jill and doing all her words and then they trade.  NO GOOD!  It wastes so much time.  Again, you have to model and practice, but once you do, you will be so proud of how quickly they can do this!

Jack: Number 2 “jump.”
Jill: Number 2 “entertainment.”

They would continue with all five words and then turn the paper in.

Now you simply grade the tests and give them back on Monday.

If you made it this far, I think you will LOVE this program!  I know I do!  It makes my students much more self-sufficient and it really assesses how they apply word patterns and differentiates for each child.



Spelling in my classroom is based off of Fountas and Pinnell, Words Their Way, and Beth Newingham at Scholastic.  To get an even more detailed explanation and a video, go to Please know that I did not come up with this program, only the word lists and tests.  I tweaked things to fit my classroom.

So... do you want the words and test?   Check it out at my TPT store.  

Want to get this whole HUGE, year long unit for free?   Just leave your email and a comment about something you liked about this post.  I will be choosing 5 random people to give the unit away to for FREE!

Friday, July 13, 2012

RTI with Mary Howard

I just attended the best Workshop I have ever been to!  It was RTI (Response to Intervention) with the guru herself, Mary Howard!  Not only was the information great, but Mary was awesome!  She is so down to earth and funny and you can tell she truly cares about students! She was inspiring!   While I would love to tell you everything I learned that is just impossible!  Basically, I am just going to give you a little background of RTI and then share lots of strategies! (sorry for all the exclamation points!  Can you tell I am excited?)

My school is just now learning about RTI and we started implemented assessment tools last year.  We were using AIMS web, which Mary doesn’t recommend… AIMS web simply assesses how fast students can read.  You and I both know that you can have a kiddo that reads like the wind, but can’t remember a single thing he read.  COMPREHENSION is what we should be assessing. Mary recommends using RUNNING RECORDS, anecdotal notes, and DRA (developmental reading assessments) to assess students.  You should be doing Running Records for the lowest 20% of your kiddos once a week and the rest of your kiddos every 3-4 weeks.  Make sure you are analyzing the total score for accuracy and the total score for meaning accuracy.  If you go to the Teacher’sCollege website, they have tons of Benchmarks that you can print off and use!   I will definitely be using these bad boys! 

I typed the rest of my notes so you can print them out.  This is what I am going to be sharing with the teachers at my school.  Please know, this is from MARY HOWARD and they are NOT my ideas!  Today's notes are all about the WHAT of RTI.  Check back soon for the HOW.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Free Common Core Download 2nd Grade TODAY!

So after having set on my duff all summer long, I finally decided that I get in on the Common Core Craze!  Litterally, I feel like people are looking for common core everything as wildly as they were trying to find a Tickle Me Elmo back in the day.  I will say that organizing this did not sit well with my ADHD......but "we shall overcome!"  I want to give you all one full day to print this bad boy for free (7 am to 7 pm Friday the 13th....cue creepy music).  I hope that it is somewhat helpful to those newcomers in teaching and the, shall we say, seasoned veterans too.  I hope you all are enjoying your summer!  I am also going to post a bunch of back to school items in the next few weeks to my TPT page after revamping them!!


Monday, July 9, 2012

"No, David!"

Who doesn't love the book "No, David!" by David Shannon? I love to read this book at the beginning of the year to teach rules. I read the book and then we list and talk  about some of the "sad choices" David made. Then, we talk about and write down what he could have done to make a better choice. I move the conversation the following day into classroom community. We go back to the chart where students wrote sad and smart choices and talk about what we want our classroom to look like. I consolidate the list into three. I do this by consolidating answers. For example: most kids say don't hit, don't punch, don't yell out etc. I talk to students about how these are all things we don't do because it isn't being respectful or nice to others, so I write "Be Respectful".

 I used to have the following rules: Be safe, Be Neat, Be Kind. We are now entering our second year with PBS (Positive Behavior Supports) and our school expectations are: Green Tree Gators are safe, respectful, and responsible learners. We repeat this everyday during morning announcements. I love it because it is easy to say: "Are you being responsible when you don't listen?" So, I now use this as my classroom rules/expectations.

The following PDF is a few "No, David!" activities. The first one is a Predictable Chart where each student writes his or her name on the line. This is a great way to get to know names and recognize what the name looks like. I put pictures of the students next to his or her name. As a class, we read this together and I let each student use a pointer to read their own name.

The second page is another predictable chart where the student writes their name in the first blank and then tells a sad choice they have made. For example: Shelley has written on a book. Since I teach kindergarten, I usually have each student write their own name and I fill in their sad choice. This would make a great class book too!

The third page is a making connections anchor chart. I am planning to teach text-to-self connections at the beginning of the year. "No, David!" is a perfect book to get students to make those connections. As sweet as these little 5 year olds are, they have ALL made a sad choice and it should be easy for them to come up with something they have done :)

The fourth page is a random page. I just finished a class on Young Readers and I used my "No, David!" activity and a name activity so I put it on one PDF. Instead of taking this random page off, I thought someone might be able to use it! Begin by writing each student's name on a sentence strip. Then, cut each letter apart and put them into a ziploc bag labeled with that student's name. Hand out a paper and the ziploc bags. Each students glues their name on the name line and then counts the number of letters in his or her name. I make a class book out of this and we make a graph with the number of letters in our name.

What books do you use to teach classroom rules and procedures?


Monday, July 2, 2012

Government Unit Flash Freebie!

In honor of our Country's Birthday, I am giving away my United States Government Unit for Free until July 5th.  Click on over to download it now!  All I ask it that you follow us and pin!  Happy 4th of July! (early)

Thanks so much to Patti at On the Road to Success,  Allison at Busy Teacher Love, and Jessica at Mrs. Wood's Class  for the Lovey Blog Award! Thank you Diane at Schoolhouse Treasures for the Versitile Blogger Award!

5-Star Blogger