Friday, January 20, 2017

New Year, New You!

This year I have had many firsts.  Some of these firsts include fist time building a house (still under construction), first time sending my own child to Kindergarten, first time looping, and first time teaching first grade.  When starting out the school year I spent numerous house searching TPT to see "what I should be teaching."  I scoured Pinterest, talked to my new teammates, and reflected on my teaching beliefs.  After a summer of moving classrooms, packing up all my Kindergarten materials and eventually setting up my classroom, it was time for me to figure out my curriculum.  For the first time in a long time I had to think about where to start, what to teach, and how to teach it.  To be honest I was completely overwhelmed.

I did what we all do, I started the school year.  I am a very sequential and organized person, and the feeling of grabbing at straws became my norm this year.  This for me, meant chaos, and I do not like chaos.  I felt like I was letting my kiddos down.  So over winter break, I took back my organized ways and began "planning the year."  I started by using a template that allowed me to look at each week and each subject or area I wanted to have planned out.  I am not going to lie, this was a HUGE undertaking, but has so far panned out and has saved me hours of planning.

So, you may be asking yourself, "where do I start?"  Well, this is where I started....I began by looking at the standards (I know not very exciting-but useful).  I looked at one strand and began thinking about the first half of the year.  I asked myself, "What did my Kiddos enter first grade knowing?" (I also used my many year of teaching Kindergarten to knowing the standards to help with this question).  I then wrote each of the components on individual (small) post-it notes.  I then began placing them in what I thought was a chronological order (I saw thought because I changed it many times until it all made sense).  I then repeated this for all the strands in all the content areas. (Remember when I said it was HUGE undertaking???)

Once all the post-its were completed I began writing them in on the Scope Planner Template.  To help me with this, I looked at holidays, breaks, and assessments schedules.  I then altered the post-it notes to fit.  

Once I filled out the content areas on the scope, I went back to fill out center themes, song and poems for the weeks, and the best thing on there....Assessments!  I made a column for formal assessments and informal assessments.  I did this because, no matter how organized I was, assessment time ALWAYS snuck up on me.  I was always scrambling to make copies, organize my assessment piles all while continuing to teach.  This year, since I added these to my scope, I know what I am testing on what week, and because I have it all scheduled out, I do not miss an assessment nor do I scramble last minute.  

This leads me to the last part of the "New Year, New Me" plan.  I took all the files that matched my scope (assessments and all) and placed them into a large binder with tabs that correspond to the weeks on my scope.  I have a volunteer come in once a week to make copies for me, so all I have to do is open my binder, pull the paper out, and voila! My next week is prepped (I just have small things to prep along with reading and math groups each week)!

If you are ready, or even if you are not, I have uploaded a template that you can use to wither start a similar process that I did, or just to track what you have done are are going to do from now on.  

{You can get the template here}

I encourage you to find something that you can do for you.  By me creating the scope, I feel like I am able to spend more time with family and have been able to relax!!!

What are you going to do in the new year to help you?  Please comment below with ideas or motivation for others!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fall Fun CGI

Hello Kinder Tribe Friends! This is Meghan from Meghan's Pad. Are you having a hard time starting your CGI groups?  Do your kiddos long for math group?  Do you Kinders want to practice CGI during independent time?  Well, I am able to answer yes to all of these questions!

Wait, what?  I for one was having a hard starting my math groups this year.  I wanted group time to be fun, engaging, and something that the children would want to come to.  After much thought, I came up with the perfect solution.....CGI games!

My kiddos now love math group AND ask to play this game during free choice!

This is how it works:

You have the choice of 3 different game boards AND 3 different levels of cards.  Since our focus this month was on addition, the game cards are only join result unknown (JRU), but each set focuses on different sums (to 10, crossing the decade, and to 20).

During group, I call the kiddos to my table.  Player 1 goes first by picking a card.  We read the card together and everyone solves the math story (I make sure to have cubes, whiteboards, fun counters, etc.).  Once everyone has solved the math story, Player 1 says there answer.  If someone got a different answer we talk about how we solved it, and then solve it together.  If Player 1 got the answer correct, they roll the die and move that many spaces.  The game continues with each player picking a card and solving the math story.

If you are interested in the game, you can pick it up for free here.

Here are a few pictures of the game.  I hope you all enjoy!  What do you do to engage and encourage problem solving in math?


Monday, September 26, 2016

Beginning of the Year Centers

We spend much of the beginning of the year working on routines and assessments, along with building foundational skills that will help our students become successful throughout the year.

When we think of what we want our students to do academically by the end of the year, our answers may vary, but over all we want them to read and solve simple math facts.  But how do we get them there?  In short, we need to pick apart skills that will help lead them to the end result.  What are these skills, you may ask?

In the area of literacy, we take the reading skill and break it down into smaller skills.  These skills include reading strategies, word knowledge, alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness. So now on to the question of, what to do now with your students that will help with the goal of reading.  Here are some of my favorite centers that I use during this time to build these skills.



This is created by Bonnie Kathryn Teaching.  Click here to view this product in her TPT store. This is a great center for children during this time of the year.  Children can work on these independently while you pull kids up for assessing.

Other alphabet center that I like to use include Alphabet UNO, Candy Land, Clip games and sorts.  I like to use games as a way to engage students.  They are not only learning and practicing fluency, they are having fun and ask to play it often.

Here are the images to the products.

UNO MAS Alphabet      Candy Land Beginning Sounds          Beginning Sound Clips       Crayons Beginning Sounds

Phonological Awareness

Other centers that I like to introduce at this time include syllables and segmenting words.  I will often do these activities as a whole group or small group and then add them to our center collection.

My students love these centers.  The more that they can manipulate words and sounds, the more they are able to remember, engage, and use these skills.  Some of our favorite centers include Snap and Count Syllables by the Reading Mama and syllable clips, syllable cards and segmenting cards.

Segmenting Sounds     Syllable Cards   Syllable Clips

Reading Strategies:

I begin to talk about reading strategies during our small group shared reading time (This is a requirement from my district).  When it came time to teach these skills, I wanted it to be fun, engaging, and interactive.  I was searching for something that would help.  I came across this by Deanna Jump.  It had everything that I was looking for, and once I started using it, the kids loved it and therefore were able to recall may strategies when reading books at their level.

Guided Reading

Please click this link to check this resource out in her TPT store!

The beginning of the year can be filled with stress, preparation, meetings, assessments, and getting to know your students (not necessarily in the that order).  It is important that we all remember to build on each student's knowledge, and help to build a strong foundation for each.

I hope you are all having a great start to the school year!

What skills do you focus on during this time of the year?  What are your "Must Do" centers or activities?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Teacher's ABC's of Summer

We all work so hard throughout the year, and know that it doesn’t stop when the bell rings on the last day.  So I thought it would be fun to create an ABC list just for teachers to enjoy over the summer.  Here we go…

In case the image is too little, here is my list

A- Alcohol (sorry this was the first thing popped into my head for A),  Amazon
B- Bathroom (using it whenever we want!)
C- Cleaning (our classrooms), creating
D- Dollar Tree
E- Errands (anytime, anywhere)
F- Family, Fun
G- Going to the zoo, store, mall, lunch...
H- Hanitizer anyone?
I- Ice Cream Sundaes (morning, noon and night)
J- "Just Because" visits
K- Kicking back
L- Learning (PD and from others)
M- Michael’s
N- No Alarm Clock
O- Organizing
P- Planning (for next year), pool
Q- Quiet
R- Rest, Relaxing
S- Searching TPT
T- Target (Dollar Spot)
U- Using the stove to make lunch (no microwaves)
V- Vacations
X- eXtra time fro whatever you want
Y- You can’t remember what day it is
Z- Zzzzz’s

I hope you are all enjoying your summer!!!!

What would you add to the Teacher's ABC's of Summer?  Please add your idea in the comments below.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Guided Reading Organization

When I was thinking about how to start my post, one song came to mind.  The song starts with, "Let's start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start...." So, I am starting from the beginning.  During this post I am going to walk you through my lesson plan sheet, along with showing you how I store and organize my guided reading activities.  

A few years ago I started to implement the guided reading plus lesson format during all of my reading reading groups as part of my core instruction.  Each year thereafter, I tweaked it a little, until I finally came up with this format.  It includes many of the same components, but has also has been changed to meet my teaching style along with my kiddo's needs.

The top section is for the phonics activity.  On the first day of the group we begin with a short phonics activity.  This activity correspond with the child's text reading level {the levels are listed on the planning sheet}.  After checking which skill the group is going to work on, I then look through the pocket which contains the activities to match the skill.  

Before I continue, I have to show you my storage system.  This is something that I have been working on for the past few months.  Each drawer contains the phonics activities for that level. To help organize the activities by skill, I am using these clear poly pouches.  This makes it easy to see the activities and grab the activity for the group.


After a short phonics activity we do a short strategy lesson.  These lessons were created my Deanna Jump.  I also have been using these songs and lessons created by Deanna Jump to help children remember and apply the strategies.  

Now for the reading!  Once we have completed our short strategy lesson, we apply our lessons to our new book.  I give a small book introduction and then invite them to read.  We use many different tools to help point to the words and stretch out words.

To wrap up Day 1, we have a short conversation about the book.  As of late, we have been answering the question, "What is the book mostly about?"  This is a question that our district is wanting us to ask after every book.

I typically meet with reading groups on 2 consecutive days.  During Day 2 we focus more on comprehension, and "dive" deeper into the book, but first, we quickly review the strategy we are focusing on, and then go right into the book.

While the children are reading, I pick a focus and a question to ask.  This helps children slow down, and not only help me gauge where they are and what they are understanding, but they are now taking that task on themselves.

After the book, the children and I engage in a conversations around the book.  In addition, I also select an area that I would like the children to practice more.

We then wrap up our group with a comprehension focus.  This is an activity that can be done "outside" of the book.  We read a short passage and then walk through the comprehension activity.  

The children then can go back and complete the activity on their own or with a partner.  This is sometimes the same activity that we did in group, or is sometimes a different activity.  It all depends on the needs of the group and the activity.

I know what you are thinking...WOW!  That's a lot!  You would be correct.  It is a lot, but is also a focused plan.  I needed a plan that I could check skills off so I wasn't jumping all around and searching for materials and ideas.  This has helped me to narrow in on the tasks.  It has also helped my kiddo's reading scores.  They are all reading at level and I have not been able to say that ever!  

If you are interested in my guided reading plan yo can pick it up here for free!

How do you plan your groups?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

New Favorite Product!

How many times a day do you run to the copy machine?  How many times have you needed just one or two more copies and couldn't leave your room?  Well, if you are anything like me, this happened more times than you can count!

I started thinking about what I could do so children could still write, and I would never run out of copies.  I tried the iPad, and that works well, but my Kinders were not able to write very well with the stylus.  Then, I found these!

These are "ticket holders" from C-Line.  They are clear pouches that are made from a thicker plastic.  They come in many different sizes.  I purchased the 8.5" X 11" size pockets and the 5" X 8".  You may be wondering why 5" X 8"? Well, I ordered a smaller sized, placed plain white paper inside, and voila, I have instant whiteboards.

This purchase started out as a way to help me manage papers, and save some trees, and turned into a class set of whiteboards that are easy to store and easy to clean, are durable, and easy to store (did I say that one already?), oh and they are pretty inexpensive.  

I have been using these "whiteboards" during whole group, small group, and independent work stations.  I love them because they are small, light weight, easy to clean, and the list goes on.

I also love them because it is easy to slide a practice sheet into and you don't have to make a gazillion copies.  It just so happens that I have the perfect practice pages to fit into these fabulous pouches.  Just so you could see what these fabulous pages look like in these wonderful pouches, I took a few pictures.

The first set of pictures is my beginning sound practice pages.  You can find them in my TPT store, or by clicking the picture.


The next picture is of my syllable practice pages.  Don't they look great in the C-Line pouches?  I thought so!  If you are interested in these pages, you can find them in my TPT store, or you can get to them by clicking the picture.

In addition to these pouches, I have also developed an obsession with Crayola Dry Erase markers.  These markers work great for the C-Line pouches, but not so well with regular whiteboards.  

The reason for the change from a popular brand of dry erase markers, is this:

Many of my markers have "magically" lost their tips.  The reason, well I believe it is because of either putting the top on the wrong way, or pushing too hard.  With the Crayola Dry Erase markers, we have not yet lost a marker tip!

What is your current favorite product?

I am linking up with Kinder Tribe for What Worked Well Wednesday.  Please add your link, or comment below!

Friday, October 30, 2015


I am having a sale!!!  Everything in my TPT store is 20% off now through Halloween!!