Monday, April 14, 2014

Blog Makeover Mega Giveaway!

I am SO ecstatic about my blog makeover! I hope you love it as much as I do! Kassie from Designs by Kassie did an amazing job turning my rough (and boy were they rough) ideas into this beauty! With the help of some fabulous friends I've put together a giveaway with TONS of great prizes to celebrate the new look! There are 18 products up for grabs including my Teach Me Sight Words Pre-Primer Bundle AND a $20 gift certificate you can use toward your own blog makeover! 

Just complete the rafflecopter below to enter! You can pin the image at the top of this post and share on your Facebook each day for even more entries! :) 

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Telling Time Using Student Names

I'm so excited to be participating in yet another Bright Ideas Link Up! I loved reading all of the fabulous ideas in March and I hope you'll love it this round too!

I want to share my tried and true trick for teaching students to tell time without getting the hour and minute hands confused! The secret? Write a student's first name on the hour hand and last name on the minute hand. Then students will say the hour first as they find their first name first and the minute second as they find their last name. I use these cheap foam clocks from the dollar store but you can use any clocks you already have in your classroom. If you don't have enough clocks for each student to practice, you can write your name on the hour and minute hands of a clock or even a favorite book character's name! 

I used my blog name to give you an idea! 

If you liked this bright idea and would love to see more, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram or my TpT shop

Be sure to check out more bright ideas by clicking any of the links below! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Getting Your Students Talking with Talking Sticks

Getting my pre-k students to engage in discussions has been a goal of mine this year. We started very basic with tracking the speaker whether it was me or another student, then we moved on to using our "loud and proud" voices, and finally to speaking in complete sentences. My students were doing such a great job but I noticed that several students were dominating the discussion. I needed to find a way encourage all of my students to participate in discussions in an equitable way. When Laura Candler offered to let me try her Talking Sticks Book Discussion I jumped at the chance!

I introduced talking Sticks during small group guided reading. Each student was given 3 sticks and  I explained when they wanted to contribute to the discussion, they had to place one of their sticks in the Talking Sticks cup. I also explained that the goal was to use all of your sticks before the lesson was over. My students who tend to dominate the conversation were quickly out of sticks and students who rarely participated were encouraged to use all of their sticks before the lesson was over. To foster discussion about the book we were reading, I also used Laura's discussion prompts. Her unit includes discussion prompts for Personal Response, Informational Text, and Literature so no matter what text you are reading you have discussion prompts at your fingertips! It has been weeks since I first introduced Talking Sticks and I can't imagine teaching without them. What I love the students are more thoughtful in their responses because they don't want to "waste" a stick!

With Talking Sticks Book Discussion the possibilities are endless! Use it during whole group or small group (just vary the number of sticks), you can use the discussion prompts with any text you are reading, you are encouraging your students to engage in meaningful discussions about text and ensuring equitable participation all while addressing the Listening and Speaking Standards. I used Laura's Kindergarten set but she has them available for ALL grades K-5, so you can find the set that is perfect for your students! If you are interested in using Laura Candler's Talking Sticks Book Discussion in your own classroom, you can check it out at her TpT shop.

How do you get students talking in your classroom?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Movin' To Learn

I hope you've gathered lots of great ideas already on this Bright Ideas hop! I am so excited to share my absolutely favorite brain break website with you...Move To Learn!

Why do I love Move To Learn so much? To start, Move To Learn videos are FREE! You can download them so they are easy to access and always right there on your computer. There are videos for K-3 and 4-6 and the videos were recorded by a PE teacher in a real classroom, so all of the activities can be done around a desk.  The videos are all close to 5 minutes long which is the perfect amount of time to get the wiggles out so your students can sit down and focus. We were lucky enough to have Coach Calhoun visit our school and it was the best program! He was such an energetic presenter and the students loved getting up and moving during an assembly. The Move To Learn website has a ton of information and resources all for FREE...I hope you'll check it out!

Be sure to check out Heidi's Bright Idea post about using vocabulary and sight words during transitions!

My (Not So) Elementary Life

For more Bright Ideas click any of the links below!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Giveaway Winner and Elf in the Classroom Freebie!

Coming back to work after a week of PJs and couch surfing has been exhausting so I just wanted to pop in to announce the winner of my Interactive Giveaway and share a freebie with you! Congratulations won my Interactive Alphabet Bundle (a $78 value!), you should have an email from me shortly :) Thank you to all of you who entered! I loved reading about your favorite holiday children's books and I have even ordered some that y'all mentioned. You can still grab the Interactive Alphabet Listening Center Bundle for 28% off its already reduced price until midnight tonight :)

I also wanted to share an Elf in the classroom freebie I made. Our special visitor will be arriving tomorrow so I made a journal for us to document his adventure in our classroom. You can grab it [here] for FREE!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Great News and a Giveaway!

I found out the best news last week! You know when you work so hard for something and you want it so badly...well, my hard work paid off! I logged in to my account to this message...

 photo Screenshot2013-11-23at123845AM.png

Ecstatic is an understatement! I wasn't expecting to certify my first time but I am so glad that I did. I have my portfolio tucked away and won't have to look at it for a long, long time :) I learned so much about my practice and have become an even more reflective teacher due to the process. I encourage any teacher to pursue National Board Certification, the hard is so worth it! 

I always want to tell you about something that has been a total game-changer in my classroom. As early childhood teachers we have SO much to teach...foundational literacy and numeracy, vocabulary acquisition, oral language development, social emotional much that it can be overwhelming! Most of my students entered my classroom knowing zero letters or numbers, didn't know colors, and couldn't recognize their own names. I sure had my work cut out for me! At our school we follow a Letter of the Week curriculum and for the first few weeks our mastery for the letter was around 80%...pretty good but I wanted 100%! I wanted to give my students more exposure to letters in an interactive way. Thus, my Interactive Alphabet was born. I started just making them for my classroom use but once I saw how effective it was for my students, I just had to share! Each letter has an interactive book and an 8-10 minute audio file. Students just follow along with me as we learn all about the alphabet! Since implementing this Interactive Alphabet Listening Center we have been at a solid 100% mastery for the letter of the week! I have the Letter Aa Interactive Book for FREE in my TpT shop so you can check it out and see if you like it. Click the image below to check it out on TpT :)

You can purchase each letter individually for $3 or you can save over 25% and buy the bundle! The bundle includes nearly 4 hours of audio by yours truly and an interactive book for each letter. I think that's quite a steal!
I would love to give the bundle away to one of you!
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Don't forget about the TpT Cyber Monday and Tuesday sale! Enter the code "cyber" at checkout and get up to 28% off your purchase! My entire store is 20% off so start filling up your cart :) 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue

I'm so excited to team up with a bunch of blogger friends to share some of Julia Cook's amazing books! One of my favorites is A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue. I read this book at the beginning of each school year and throughout the year when my students need a gentle reminder about tattling versus telling.

A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue is about a young boy named Josh who doesn't have many friends. In fact, everyone at school called him "Josh the Tattler." His mom grew tired of the tattling and warned him of getting tattle tongue. With the help of Tattle Prince, Josh learned the difference between tattling and telling! You can learn more about the author, Julia Cook, by clicking the book cover below. 

I love this book because it describes scenarios that happen in all of our classrooms each and every day. Sometimes it can be very hard for students to distinguish when they need to tell or when it is best to solve the problem on their own and the examples Julia included illustrate it very clearly. I really like the Tattle Prince's Tattle Rules--what a great way help our students become independent and proactive problem solvers!

I've created a visual reminder that I display in my classroom. When I notice a student that is just dying to tell me something I remind them to look at the poster to make sure that they really need to tell me. Just click the picture to download it.

There are lots of great ideas to curb the tattling in classrooms. Some teachers have a stuffed animal that students can talk to, students can "tell the shell" and whisper into a conch shell, or create a tattle pledge that all students sign to remind them of their responsibility in contributing to the caring classroom.

What are your tips and tricks for dealing with tattling in your classroom?

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