Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Blog Linky Party

Set this Circus Down is a new blog & there is a new blog linky party going on over there. If you are interested in finding some fabulous new blogs to read you should definitely head over. If you have a new blog you should link up. Oh yeah, I nearly forgot....not only can you find great new blogs but you could win a $25 gift certificate to Amazon!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

20 Followers! Freebie

I promised to share my materials for the tall tale of John Henry once the blog had 20 followers. I'm so excited! I've hit 20 followers & so here it is. I made these materials because I have found a ton of materials for Johnny Appleseed, but next to nothing that I liked for John Henry. I hope these are helpful to you. I haven't used these yet, but I will in the fall. So, if you notice any mistakes or have any ideas I would be glad to get feedback. Thanks for following my blog. There is a preview below, but the actual materials are 14 pages. Click here for John Henry materials

Guided Reading

I was wondering who else has had problems with getting your guided reading groups settled it. It seems like half the time when we switch groups someone needs something, a computer shuts down, or one of my group members takes just a minute longer than the rest to get to the table. It used to be that I lost a minute or two of time at the start of my groups while my group waited for me or one of the group members. Not now! Last year I got an idea that worked wonderfully and I wanted to share it with all the amazing teachers in blogland.

If everyone is ready I set a timer for 1 minute. If not the students just start and we stop once everyone is ready.

When my kiddos come to reading group they always see this basket sitting on top of a laminated  word find, which I set on top of a student whiteboard. You can find some word finds here. I switch mine out weekly. I am planning to make some using the words from our Reading Street series this year, but I have to find time first. :)
what's in the basket
example of a word find

They use the magnifying glass to find the words and write as many of them as they can on their whiteboards. When time is up they erase their board with the back side of the bee, put the materials back, and get out the special pencils, erasers, and sticky notes instead. Then we set the purpose for reading and get started with reading group. They take notes, write words with our word pattern, or answer a question on the sticky note after reading. Those that don't get to the sticky note may simply share orally when the others read their response.

I would love to hear any tips you have about running your guided reading groups. Leave a comment if you have any ideas, tips or tricks or if you have a blog you can join the linky party.

 Also, I am just 2 follows short of 20. When I hit 20 I will be posting some materials I made about the tall tale of John Henry. So if you don't follow already I would love for you to start.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Transitions Linky Party

Little Miss Kindergarten is hosting a linky party on transitions. She talks about using music as a tool for transitions which is something I have done many times with great results. I loved her idea of making a play list in order of your daily transitions. Awesome idea! You should check out her post.

I recently posted a song that I made up. It goes to the tune of Frere Jaques and I use it for transitioning to the rug. I am reposting that here and sharing a few other tips.

It is time now

It is time now

To sit down

To sit down

Boys and girls are learning

Boys and girls are learning

On the rug

On the rug

I usually sing this at least twice and will announce the last round before starting it. Sometimes, I will still have a straggling student. When that happens I will directly ask that student to come to the rug and then I will slowly count up from zero. The number I get to is how many times that student and I will practice the procedure later. This has always solved my problem with students waiting until the last second to start wrapping up there activity.

Another tip for transitions is having some sort of call and response. This year I used a clapping pattern. I would clap a beat. The class would repeat it. Everyone would catch on quickly that I needed their attention without me having to raise my voice.

Another tip is to teach the kids that when you give directions they cannot start until you give an end signal. For example, I might tell the kids that I want them to get their books out and open them up to page 29. Then I would say, "go ahead" before they begin. That way everyone hears all of the directions.

I also would remind students (while pointing at my eyes, ears, & mouth) that I wanted to see their eyes on me, their ears listening, and their mouths closed prior to giving directions.

My last tip would be to play a little game. In the halls we play Quiet Mouse when we are waiting. To play this game you pick one student who is doing the right thing to be quiet mouse. That student gets out of line and looks for the quietest person to choose as the next quiet mouse.

Online Organization Linky Party

Extra Special Teaching is holding a linky party on organizing your computer files. Uhm...yeah, I struggle with this. I am working on it now. Okay, I am working on organization in general. Right now I am in the process of combining my Dropbox and Google Docs files and sorting them into subject area folders. I am creating subfolders for each subject and sorting the subjects into subfolders one subject at a time. It's tedious, but if I am saving all these awesome ideas and files online, I need to be able to find and use them.

Another, tool I have found and am exploring is Live Binders. They are like storing web links, PDFs, pictures, etc in a 3 ring binder, except they're online.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Upcoming Freebie & Teaching Tips

I wanted to share with you all a few tips and tricks that I have used while teaching. Some of them are probably familiar to you already. I am working on a Tall Tales Unit and will post the first set of materials for John Henry as a freebie when I get 20 followers. So if you are interested please be sure to follow me. Also, I will be sharing some tips for handling the transitions when you are doing guided reading groups soon. Stay tuned and thanks for checking out my blog.

Spelling City is a wonderful free tool (you can also upgrade for a fee). Check it out. You can put in your spelling list for the class, or if you have different lists then you can have several lists. The students search for your name and then see a listing of all of your lists and can select from it. Students can then play games with the selected words, study them, or even take a test (which can be electronically scored and printed out.) You can also use the test option for just the students who test out of your weekly list to save yourself from giving multiple tests or for students who were absent during the test. The site has audio and so it is able to read both the word and a sentence for each word to the children.

It is time now
It is time now
To sit down
To sit down
Boys and girls are learning
Boys and girls are learning
On the rug
On the rug
This song goes to the tune of Frere Jaques. I sign it with the class to transition the class from centers or their desk to the rug. I usually sing it twice. After that I count back from five to zero with the expectation that everyone is ready for learning and on the rug by zero. Of  course I many sing it more times depending on what clean up is involved in the activity we are transitioning from.

Electrical tape....Love it! I use this to divide my whiteboard. It peels off so much easier than other tapes. I also use it to make two Xs on the floor by my back table. I teach the students that if I am working with a group and they need help (after asking 3) they may stand on the X and wait for me. I see them easily there and don't have to get up to address them. I also teach them that only one person can be on the X and that if someone is there they must wait until the X is empty. I also insist that students on the X are silent. This keeps the other students from sitting with their hand up not working and keeps me from having a line of students waiting on me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Freebies for the First Comment

These are my first two products for sale (not freebies) on my TPT store. The first is a tic-tac-toe style partner game for practicing the pre-primer Dolch words. The second is my Basketball Math Activities Pack. It is 50 pages and includes 4 games! The games cover odd & even, addition facts, subtraction facts, and comparing numbers. I am going to give them away to the first person who leaves a comment on this post. They will be sent as PDF files. So if you are the first person to leave a comment, please email me at after you leave a comment. Also, comments do not show up immediately.

My Wish List Linky Party

One of the awesome blogs I stalk, Really Roper is hosting a wish list linky party.  I wanted to share a few of the things I would love to have in my classroom with you all.

I have dreamed of having student book boxes for several years now. This is one item on my wish list that I am planning on purchasing this year & I have to say I am super excited about it.

This is another item on my wish list that I will probably buy myself. I love using these. They are just fun and when I let the kids use my old ones they think they have struck gold.
I would love to have a rug like this. I LOVE the squares. My kids this year had no awareness of personal space and I think the squares would help with that.

I LOVE this cart too. It would be an awesome way to store work stations, group materials, etc. I can think of so many ways I could use this.

I really want some of these for the classroom. There are so many great learning activities on these. My district is piloting the iPad 1s in special education and with a few general education teachers. So maybe this could happen in the future. A girl can hope. Right?

 While I have a classroom library, it is not nearly as organized or extensive as this one. I love books!

One lucky school in my district got one of these for the media center. My daughter got to play on it and it was amazing. Oh the possibilities.

I borrowed a set from another teacher last year & I really want my own set. I will probably be making a trip to Lowe's or Home Depot this summer to get some shower board cut.

Freebie Alert!

I created this file today for my classroom when I teach addition with sums up to 12. It is one of our first math units and we continue working toward fluency with basic facts all year. You will need two dice and each player will also need a mat and 12 counting chips or other small manipulatives. Players roll the dice, and the totals, and cover up the sum. If the sum is already covered the player's turn is done. The first person to cover their board wins. This can be played with as few as two players or in a small group. I hope you enjoy this freebie. I am posting this in Google Docs. Please let me know if it works.                                                                                            

                                                                                                       Click Here

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fun Basketball Math Activities

Wow! I just finished my Fun Basketball Math Activities on my TPT store. It turned out to be 50 pages. I included four activities. The first one is my Odd Vs. Even Basketball sort, the second is an addition sort. The third is a subtraction sort. The fourth is Score, which is basically a version of math war that can be played with any of the sets of cards from the first three activities or with a set of playing cards. Check it out. All of that and it is only $3.00!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mrs. Kelly's Kindergarten is Hosting a Giveaway

If you haven't already checked out the giveaway on Mrs. Kelly's Kindergarten blog you should check it out before it ends on Wednesday at 8pm. Click here to check it out.

I Have Followers!

I just noticed that I have my first followers. Wow! In order to celebrate, I am posting  vocabulary words for weatheras a freebie on my my TPT store . I hope you enjoy them. If so please leave a comment or feedback. If you have any suggestions I'd love those too.

My school is a Learning Focused School. We are encouraged to post word wall for our units as well as for basic sight words. I would love to post some pictures of my word walls forMs. M's Blog's Word Wall Linky Party, but since I am locked out of my school until July due to floor repairs I will just share these and tell you that I usually dedicate a portion of my bulletin board to each subject and post our essential questions and unit vocabulary there.
This is an example of what the vocabulary cards look like.