Thursday, July 25, 2013

10 Things I Learned from Teaching

I'm linking up with Miss Kindergarten to share the 10 Things that I have Learned from Teaching.
1. Laugh with the kids. You will make mistakes and instead of getting upset; laugh your buns off right along with them.
2. You need to explicitly teach how to use and treat school supplies. Little kiddos seem to think everything is edible.
3. Learn your kiddos names right a way. This will help with positive relationship building and your kids will listen to you better. I can't tell you how much my teeth grind when people call me Patricia. Not that isn't a nice name, it's just not my name. On that same note, when my students tug on my arm and say, "Teacher, teacher," I tug back on their arm back and say, "Student, student." They end up learning Miss Gill very quickly. :)
4. Beg, Borrow, and Steal! This profession has a steep learning curve so allow yourself to go to more experienced teachers and ask for help. Most will be more than willing to give you ideas and supplies with open arms.
5. This picture says it all! Ha!
6. Let your kids know that you love and care about them. Not all kids hear it enough and they need to know that they are special.
7. Over plan! Always have a couple extra activities you can do if a lesson does not last as long as you thought. It is will save you from being frazzled and keep your day running smoothly. I like to do a brain break; like a game or a song. I also like to use our Kagan strategies and have the kiddos get up and talk to one another about they are learning.
 8. There is no recipe to teaching. Every year is different and you need to change your classroom to meet the needs of your kiddos. Remember
9. If something is working, don't reinvent the wheel. If something isn't, throw it out.
10. Above all forgive yourself! Even though you do amazing things everyday you are not a super hero; you are a person.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to go visit with Miss Kindergarten for more wonderful teaching tips and advice. If you liked any of the pictures, click on them and they will take you to the original link.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Books I Can't Plan Without: Debbie Diller Math Work Stations

I talked a little bit last week about books that I just cannot plan without. My 2 picks from last week were the Daily 5 and Café. Click here to go to that post. Today, I wanted to dive a little more into math. One of the books that I cannot plan or teach without is Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller.
I started with Debbie a couple years ago and loved her thoughts and philosophy on teaching math. This last year I tried something new and ended up going back to Debbie halfway through the year. Her math station ideas are so thoughtful.  I love that her math work stations give kiddos time to practice and review taught skills. Plus, the stations are easy for teachers to manage. I have enjoyed having the time to meet with groups and really hone on what kiddos need to be successful. If you haven't picked up this gem of a book, I highly recommend it. I unfortunately didn't take pictures of my centers (I will be taking them like crazy this year) but I can show you how I organized my groups with Work Stations.

How Do I Keep Track of Who Goes Where?
I made this Smart Notebook document that I would put on my screen when it was time to Math Stations. This saved wall space and was very easy to change and manipulate. Debbie recommends that you have no more than 3 kids at a stations at a time. Since I was blessed to only have 19 kiddos this last year, I had 9 stations. In the past, I have had up to 14 stations. Each day, I would start with the kiddos that have the star by their names, rotate them to the next station, and then move everyone one by one to the right. I added the star as well so I could remember when everyone had been though the stations once. My star kiddos originally started at the number one position.
How Do the Kids Go to Workstations?
Before my kiddos could start their workstations, they had to complete some type of seat work. My current curriculum is Everyday Math so before stations, my kids had to finish their math boxes. I always asked that they leave their workbooks open on the table so I could see them.  This gives me time to check work and offer one-on-one help. I also pull small groups and work on specific skills during this time.
How Did I Group Kids?
Our school is using Kagan to engage our students with cooperative learning structures. In Kagan, they talk about how to group and seat kids so that they are working with peers that help them grow and meet their intellectual needs. For example: putting the highest math student and the lowest math student will not help either child grow. It is better to put a high student with a mid to mid-low student and a low student with a mid to mid-high student. Obviously, you need to consider every subject as well because every kiddo has their forte and their area of growth.
What Do I Put in Stations?
I always start with manipulatives in stations. Kids are going to play the first couple times they are introduced to a new tool so let them! Then, later you can build in the math. I like to make a poster of how we used the mainpulatives and then talk about and star the ides that a mathematician would do. After I have introduced the mainpulatives, I start adding stations slowly that correlate with our whole group lessons. For example: After we did a 3-d shape sorting lesson(whole class) with cards and mainpulatives; I put those materials in a stations with some shape books and a labeling page. Easy! Don't over think it!
How Do I Plan for my Math Units?
Here are some tools that I use to help me plan out units and themes for the whole year. I especially use the blank calendar and the unit template to plan my math. You can click here to see the original post or you can click here to go to my Teachers Pay Teachers Page for a preview.
Thanks for stopping by and tell me about math books that you plan with or how you have used math work stations. There are so many resources out there.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Picture Book Linky: Rhyming Books and Liebster Round 2

I'm linking up with First Grade and Fabulous to discuss some of my favorite rhyming books. Teaching rhyming skills are so important for kiddos phonemic awareness growth. I also think that rhyming helps kids learn word families quicker because they can hear the letter pattern in the family. Here are my top picks for rhyming books.
You can't talk about rhyming and not talk about the Dr. Seuss. He was the king of rhyme. Heck, if he couldn't find a real word to rhyme, he would just make up a word. When I introduce nonsense words (Dibels users know what I mean), I always call them "Dr. Seuss words". After reading a Dr. Seuss book we will usually sort the real words from the Dr. Seuss (nonsense) words on a pocket chart.
Giles Andreae and David Wojtowyez have a ton of adorable animal books that  describe different animals in short poems that rhyme. I love using these books for animal studies and reports. These books would also be a great inspiration for writing poetry about animals. Here's a close up of one of their poems about Turtles from Commotion in the Ocean. So stinking cute!

Look at this way to cute bulletin board put together by Sunflower Lily. So clever to use curling ribbon for the jellyfish tentacles.
The Hungry Thing by Jan Siepian and Ann Seidier
Let me tell you, I love me some Hungry Thing. If you haven't read this book before, it is about a monster that comes into town and points to the sign on his chest that says "Feed Me!" The only problem is, is that monster doesn't speak English well and ends of changing the beginning sounds in words. The villagers have to figure out just what it is that the Hungry Thing wants. The kids love to guess too! They always get it right before the townspeople.
This story is an amazing story for teaching phoneme substitution with beginning sounds. It is fun to have your students act out being the Hungry Thing and telling the class their favorite food with a different beginning sound. Ex. Smancakes for pancakes. Too Fun!
Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
First let me start by saying my kids love this book. It is all about aliens who come to Earth for one purpose....underwear snatching. The rhymes are too funny and you can't help but laugh right along with the class.
Here's a sample of the inside of the book!
Be sure to head over and see all of the other amazing rhyming books people have posted at First Grade and Fabulous.

Sweet Lucy at Kids Math Teacher nominated me for the Liebster Award!
That puts my nominations at 4 and let me tell you I am tickled pink! I've loved working on this blog this summer and want to say a big THANK YOU to all of my followers. Yesterday, I did all of the procedures for accepting this nomination, click here, so today I am just going to answer Lucy's questions. :)

Questions from Lucy:
  1. What are a few of your goals? Wow! There are so many things that I could write here. I'll just pick my top 3.
      • Have as much fun this summer as possible. The summer is winding down at an alarming rate and I refuse to go out without having a great time. Bring on the bbqs, floaties, and friends.
      • Have my classroom completely set up before the kids get there. We aren't able to go in early to our building and since I am in a new classroom this year, I want to make sure that I have it set up before the kids get there this summer fall.
      • Have a great time in a new grade. I have taught 1st grade for the last 6 years and will be moving to kindergarten this fall. I thought I would be a firstie for life but, I think this change will be a new adventure.
  2. Who's your hero? My mom! She raised me as a single parent and always did the best she could for me. I respect and love her to pieces.
  3. Favorite thing to watch? Dancing with the Stars! It is the best!
  4. Favorite sport to play? Football. I enjoy the game but I love the snacks even more!
  5. Personal positive quote? "Be yourself! Everyone else is taken.
Thanks again for the Liebster nominations ladies! I am so flattered!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Liebster Award

I am so flattered to say that I have been nominated by 3 different ladies for the Liebster Award! Thank you ladies! I actually did a little dance in my kitchen, I was so excited! My nominators were Jennifer from The Curious Apple, Monica from Roland with iPads, and Wendy from Read with Me ABC. Be sure to visit them!

The rules for me to happily accept this award are:

Procedures for the Nominees:
  1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
  2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
  3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
  4. Share 11 facts about yourself.
  5. Create a list of 11 questions for you nominees.
  6. Contact you nominees with the news.

Here are my questions from Jennifer at the The Curious Apple:
  1. What is you favorite coffee drink? Hmmm...I would say any coffee as long as I can have my International Delight Creamer. Almond Joy, Cinnabon, and Cold Stone Sweet Cream are my favs.
  2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? I love the beach and I love to scuba dive so ideally I would like to live on a sailboat. I would love to sail around the Caribbean exploring and diving.
  3. Are you a dog lover, cat lover, or both? I love my dog, Miley. She is a black lab/greyhound mix and she is my little shadow.
  4. If you won a million dollar, what would you do with it? I'd make it rain! Ha! Just kidding. I'd buy that sailboat. :)
  5. Favorite TV show? Dancing with the Stars. I just love it!
  6. Favorite professional development book? Mine will always be the Daily 5 and CAFE. Both of these books just really fit with my reading philosphy. I was so happy when they came into my life.
  7. Favorite holiday? I love the 4th of July. You can't beat BBQs and fireworks.
  8. Favorite technology tool to use in your classroom? I would say mine is my iPad but I love that we have Apple TV that connects our iPad to the screen. I use it all the time.
  9. What is your homework philosophy? I teach little kiddos so I send home homework but there are no consequences if it is not done. I truly do not feel that it is their fault if their parents were not able to do the homework with them. I will add though that I never send anything home that my kiddos can't do for the most part on their own. I encourage my kids to try and do the homework on their own or bug someone to help them. It warms my heart when kiddos come back and say I couldn't find anyone to read to so I just read to my dog and my dog liked it! Ha! We always do a class cheer for that kiddo during morning meeting and then we talk about how they used the character trait perseverance. For my homework, I send home a book at their reading level nightly that has already been read in groups. Then once a week, I send home a spelling list and math pages that correlate with what we are learning. The kids have a whole week to do them. 
  10. Favorite quote? "Be yourself! Everyone else is taken."
Questions from Monica at Roland with iPads:
  1. What has been the best part of your summer? The best part of the summer for me has been going to Outer Banks, North Carolina and getting a week to have some fun in the sun with family and friends.
  2. When do you return to work? I have to be back to work on August 12th but we don't have kiddos until the following week.
  3. Describe your classroom in one word. Active.
  4. Do you have a class theme? If so what is it? Yes, this next year I am doing my classroom in all Eric Carle. In the previous years, I have always had an ocean theme so this will be an exciting change.
  5. Where did you go to college? I went to college at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY.
  6. Who inspires you? In the blogging world: Reagan Tunstall, Deanna Jump, and DeeDee Wills.
  7. How long have you been blogging? Jen and I set up this blog 2 years ago and then life just got busy and we stopped doing it. This summer I have picked it back up and I promise, I'm not going anywhere. So I guess the answer can range anywhere from 2 years to 3 months.
  8. How did you come up with your blog name? My blogging buddy, Jen, and I wanted to relate it back to children's books since we are both primary teachers. Our blog name was inspired by the Laura Numeroff books.
  9. Would you rather eat out or cook your own meal? I go back and forth on this. We cook at home a lot so I will crave a night out but, if we have eaten out a lot, I crave a night in.
  10. Which social media are you most hooked on? Pinterest! I'm addicted. I love the organization of the boards and it so fun looking at all of the creative things that people are doing. Very inspiring!
  11. What is your favorite day of the week? Why? I love Wednesday because it is all downhill from there. I also can't get enough of that Geico commercial with the camel running around cheering and the punch line being "Happier than a camel on Hump Day!" Ha! I love it!
Questions from Wendy at Read with Me ABC:
  1. Tell us about your family. I grew up with my beautiful mom and my very talented brother. I also have a dog named Miley.
  2. Where did you go on your last vacation? This summer we went to Outer Banks, North Carolina with a group of 32 people. Lots of family and friends. It was a blast! I'm wistful and want to go back.
  3. Coke or Pepsi? Coke; especially if it is Cherry.
  4. What's the last movie you watched? The Hunger Games. We watched it again on Netflix last night.
  5. Favorite store to shop in? Old Navy. I swear everything I own comes from there.
  6. What would you pick as your last meal? Mashed potatoes, fried pickles, shrimp and fish tacos, queso and chips, crab legs, and vanilla ice cream. It would a random course meal.
  7. Share a quote that is meaningful to you? "Be yourself! Everyone else is taken."
  8. What super power would like to possess? I would want to be able to transport anywhere. It would make world travel so easy and affordable plus I could sleep in longer during the school year. :)
  9. Name one item you can't live without. Mascara. It just makes me feel pretty.
  10. Tell us a funny school story. One December, one of my ELL kiddos came up to me in his most excited voice and said, "Miss Gill, you need to come to my house. We have so many presidents under our Christmas tree right now. "
11 Random Facts about Me:
  1. I really want to set up a kiddie pool in my backyard big enough for me to put a floatie in it so I can float around all day.
  2. I went from never doing my nails to being addicted to shellac. I just can't get enough of nail polish that stays on!
  3. It has been so hot here that all of my flowers have died or are starting to die. It is giving me a complex.
  4. I talk to my dog all the time. I think she likes it. :)
  5. I was awarded the Eel Diver Award this November because of a very traumatic experience with a 7 foot green moray eel. Don't worry though, it won't keep me out of the water.
  6. My favorite animal is a duckbilled platypus. I picked it as my favorite when I was a little kid because I didn't think it had enough fans.
  7. I just purchased my first pair of cowboy boots and now I want to wear them everywhere. Maybe when I get that pool....
  8. I take a bubble bath and read in the tub every Sunday through Thursday night. I call it my "Me Time" and I sleep like a baby when I get out.
  9. I love potatoes! Anyway you can cook them, I will eat them.
  10. I can't go in a pool without doing the Little Mermaid hair flick at least once.
  11. I don't like taking pictures by myself so I will most of the time recruit others to be in my photos.
Now for my Nominees! Here are some new bloggers that I think are fabulous.
  1. Danielle from Carolina Teacher
  2. Miss Lackey from Teaching Miss Lackey
Ladies here are your questions:
  1. When and why did you decide to be a teacher?
  2. What is your favorite thing to do on a lazy afternoon?
  3. Where is your favorite spot in your classroom? Why?
  4. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
  5. What is your favorite picture book? Why?
  6. What is your favorite adult book? Why?
  7. Describe your classroom in one word. (I'm stealing this one from Monica.)
  8. Where do you want your next vacation to be?
  9. Coffee or tea?
  10. If you were a superhero, who would you be?
  11. What is your favorite season? Why?
Thank you again for nominating me! I feel honored and I am so excited about the wonderful followers I have! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

I'm linking up again with The First Grade Parade to talk about my favorite pins of the week. This is such a fun linky because it forces me to look at my boards and I get inspired all over again. Click the pictures to go to the websites these ideas came from.
I just can't get enough of this idea from Kindergarten Works. She has prop ideas that go with 20 different popular kid's books. After she has read the books and acted them out with the class, she puts them in a literacy station and the kiddos act out the story with one or two partners. My mind is blown. Think about the listening and speaking standards that are covered doing this as well as the growth in the students' comprehension. Also so much FUN!
I love this thank you idea from Hillside Elementary Library. How special would you feel if you got a thank you like this. This also would a great time saver because kiddos wouldn't be decorating whole cards.

This one comes from Nerdy, Nerdy, Nerdy. I really want these plastic drawers for my kiddos to have at their tables. I think it would be so handy for folders, notebooks, and supplies. I would also like to put a turn in basket on the top of each so that I can just walk around and see how hasn't turned in their work. I just wish they weren't so expensive to buy. :(
Here are some pins that warm my child of the 80's heart! Too Funny!
I'm sorry but this is just too funny.
Ninja Turtles! Ha!
I love all of the chevron maxi dresses that are out these days. I really like this color combo and love the single red chevron stripe.
For my future beach house!
Dr. Seuss just had it right!
Be sure to connect with The The First Grade Parade for more favorite pins of the week.
Come visit all the time!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Freebie for Owl Lovers

I'm linking up with The First Grade Parade again for another Throwback Thursday. This one comes from my blogging partner Jen. She has an adorable owl theme in her classroom and she put together a classroom rules freebie for all of you owl lovers. I love the idea of the acrostic poem guiding the rules.

Here are some cute rules posters I made using my classroom theme. I created the rules as an acrostic poem with the word OWLS. The letters stand for:

O = Our classroom is kept clean
W = We keep our hand, feet, and objects to ourselves.
L = Listen to our teacher and our classmates
S = Speak softly and respectfully

I used clip art from Lettering Delights (Thanks Deanna Jump!) and after I they were printed, I glued them onto cute scrap booking paper. I hung them near the fun wall decal I bought from the kids bedroom section at Target (in the picture below!). If you think you will be able to use them, download the rules now!

{To get a copy for click the photo!}
Here is a photo of how they look in my classroom. I think they look pretty cute!

cartoon graphics Jennifer
Be sure to look at all of the other fabulous bloggers posting their Throwbacks and thanks for stopping by our little blog. :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Books I Can't Plan Without: Daily 5 and Cafe

I have read quite a few educational books in my day and even though I may love some advice or take snippets away. There are only a few books that have stayed on my bookshelves for most of my teaching career. These are the books that I can't plan without. These books help guide my instruction and today I'm going to talk about my top 2 favorites.
The Daily 5 and Café by The Sisters: Gail Boushey and Joan Moser
I love the 2 sisters and I love their outlook on kiddos reading and literacy needs. I have always looked at the Daily 5 as being what the kids are doing during literacy time and Café being what you, as the teacher, are doing during literacy time. These 2 books go hand in hand. I have heard people say that Café is too advanced for primary kiddos. I say, "Hogwash!" I've used it in first grade and I am going to use it kindergarten next year.

My favorite quote from these ladies has to be "Fair isn't everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what they need in order to be successful." A lot of time, we have 4 rotations of reading groups and they are 15 minutes each. When every group has rotated through, we are done. Everyone is getting 15 minutes. The time is equal but is the education fair? One student might need 30 minutes to grasp a concept and another student need 10 minutes. Hmmm....that doesn't seem fair.

This is not to say that I do not do reading groups. I do and I love them. It is to say; however, that I keep a close watch on how our learning is going. If we are catching on to the concept/skill, we move on. If we need additional help, we keep working. If there is only one kiddo excelling or needing assistance, you can bet your bottom dollar that they are on my one-on-one list.

I found this picture on pinterest from Joe Bower from For the Love of Learning and I thought it brought the point home beautifully.

Here is a freebie poster from The Curious Apple. I might have to make something like this to hang by our rules.
Gonna hang this in my classroom!
 Along with these books, here are some tools that I created to help me with my own planning for the 2013-2014 school year. You can click here to see more info about this packet or here to visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Daily 5 and Café.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Get Your Plan On!

The 2013-2014 school year is slowly creeping in. I actually have to go back August 12th. That is earliest, I have ever gone back. I'm not quite ready but I am starting to get my plan on. I like to be planned ahead so I don't feel overwhelmed when sitting in the first couple days of professional development. Here is a unit of tools that I use to help me have a successful year.

Click here or any of the pictures to view my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
How do I use these Calendars?
I always start by going through each calendar page and writing all of the days we are out of school, early dismissal days, or any special days. This keeps them from creeping up on me during the year. Nothing is worse than having not enough time to get everything done.
Then I go through and add in key themes I teach throughout the school year. My next goal is to look at my standards and figure out what needs to mastered for this time of the year. This way the activities that I put with my themes are purposeful and help kiddos reach their goals.
I always write in pencil and I save my calendars from year to year. I change as a teacher every year to meet the needs of my students  but I also believe you shouldn't throw the baby out the with bathtub. If something works keep it. If it doesn't, it is time to toss it out.
I love these for an overview and for specific planning. I especially like the intervention planning template so that I have a hardcopy of what I have tried with my kiddos. We are in the age of document, document, document.
I love the copying instruction page for classroom volunteers. It is so nice to have all of my instructions in one place. I used to be the sticky note queen but I was so frustrated when I lost a note or it stuck to another page and I got double of something I didn't need.
I also need to prioritize my To Do list. I like to do whatever is the most creative and fun first. However, that is usually not the most important item on the list. Sigh!
I like having both of these items readily available. I never truly feel ready to get planning until I have made my classroom map. I also never like the feeling of a student birthday creeping up on me. I also add colleagues to this birthday list. I never want to forget them either. :)
Click here to visit my Teacher Pay Teachers page and Happy Planning!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Smorgasbord

I'm linking up with Fabulous in First to share a Sunday Smorgasbord. So fun!

The school supplies are out at the stores and I am finding some great things that I am very convinced I need.
The Target Dollar Spot never disappoints. I'm going to use the 2 buckets for sharp and broken pencils. I love the pocket file folders. Such fun designs. I am going to make one my copy room folder. I always forget something in my classroom that I need to cut or copy. This might help my forgetful mind. Cross my fingers!
Staples had a coupon for 50% off Avery Labels. It was only one per person so I brought a friend. Shhh, don't tell! Index Cards are 1 cent for the first 2! I also got the cute notebook to be my writing conferring notebook for my kiddos. This following year I am going to follow Deanna Jump's and DeeDee Willis's plans for writing. Here is a link to their fabulous work. :)
The Dollar Tree had these cute bins in my 3 classroom colors. I am going to go back and find bigger baskets for my word work and math centers. I'm thinking green for word work and red for math. If I can find them too; I'll do blue for the library.
Nailpolish can glitter letters in cards without puckering the paper! I am the Maid of Honor for one of my best friend's wedding this summer. I have currently been working on invites for her Bridal Shower. After I printed them, I realized they needed more sparkle. I had just finished painting my nails and lightening struck. Here's a picture of just part of her name.
I did a light sparkle on the heading "She said Yes!" and a heavier sparkle on her name. You know, it is all about the bride. :) I didn't show the heading because the light sparkle wasn't really showing up in the picture.
 Now if you click here or the picture it will link you to my post about my new headbands, wristbands, backpack, and shirt tags for how to get home on the first week of school. That is not why I posted it.  I actually posted it because I am new here in blogging world and I need a little help. PLEASE! :)

I want to add a link to the bottom of my comments when I write on other blogs that will take you to my blog. I see that lots of you have them and I want to join the club. I have googled and tried to do it on my own and still can't seem to get it figured out. Hi! I'm New Here! Please Help!

Thanks for stopping by for a Sunday Smorgasbord! Be sure to stop by and visit Fabulous in First!