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Friday, October 4, 2013

A few funnies to lift the mood

My lovely kinders are hard at work! We celebrate all of the learning happening daily! The students are getting good at finding things to practice to become their best! I love it! I have also encouraged them to feel proud of all of their progress! As a result, I often hear cheering or a way to go !

So today, one of my little darlings came rushing over to my reading table yelling "Mrs. Brown, I am getting so good at rhyming! Witch and *itch rhyme! " with a very loud voice! Now how can I get upset when she was absolutely right and celebrating her progress! I loved it!

Another funny.... we were discussing all of our senses. Today we focused on the sense of touch. The kids were looking at a flip chart with a picture of teddy bears and other things to spark a discussion. One sweet girl raises her hand so politely and says "she feels crunchy under her dress." Uhhh....crickets chirping because I didn't know what to say. After what felt like an eternity, I asked for clarification. Turns out she was talking about the lace on the bottom of the dress, not anything under it. HA HA HA. To conclude our exploration of touch, I had the children use feely bags and describe what they felt. I caused a ruckus when, to their surprise, they reached in and touched some slimy fishing worms! What a great conversation starter!

What an amazing reminder of how awesome it is to teach kindergarten!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Teaching and Education are AMAZING!!

Twitter makes me depressed.  I looked at Twitter today and was finding some really good articles.  After about 20 minutes, I started finding depressing, teacher/education bashing articles.  I then started seeing hashtags that truly made me find sad things.  For example, I found the hashtag #firstdayofschoolthoughts (one that I would be replying SO EXCITED, CAN'T WAIT TO MEET MY NEW STUDENTS **and yes, in caps)  Nooo...I see "hate, hate hate."  "should I __(removed because it made me upset) them now or later?"  REALLY!?

Then I typed in #teachingisamazing.  How sad is it that the last post under that hashtag was in May of 2012?
I kept typing these kinds of hashtags and FINALLY found one that made me much happier.  #iloveteaching.  The reason and the hope for our profession.

Do you Twitter?  What do you gain from it or how do YOU use it?



Must reads for everyone

There are so many articles out there that people need to be reading.  Here are few that I have found interesting and reassuring!

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/leadership_360/2013/07/lead_the_common_core_with_an_open_mind.html

http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2013/07/29/social-video-offers-new-avenue-for-students-colleges-to-connect?src=usn_tw

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2013/07/deeper_project_based_learning.html


A long time comin'

It has been a long time since posting...I realize that now.  I think I needed a mental break from everything.  I had to focus on myself and my husband for a little while.  My husband has had yet another surgery this summer.  It has caused a change of summertime plans for us.  We really haven't done many things, but I feel like I'm always running around with my head cut off.  Ugh.  What have you done this summer?  Have you been working on school stuff?

Last summer I focused really hard on my stations binders.  This year...nada.  Why?  I feel that there are so many changes all the time that cause instruction to change on the spot.  I am very proud of my binders and systems I have in place.  I feel that I am a more effective teacher than I have been in the past.  With all of these changes taking place from year to year, it's hard, I feel, to create new things that I may or may not be able to use.  Next year we will be going to tablet instruction for our students, which I think is awesome.  I've tried to switch from printing "morning work" worksheets and trying different things.  I could google and pinterest all of the worksheets in the world.

I'm seeking feedback.  PLEASE reply if you read this :)

What do you have your students do first thing when they arrive?  (aside from morning routine things)
How do you incorporate technology into your instruction?
How do you keep yourself from getting burnt out?


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rainforest learning

I thought I would share what my class did today.  As were exploring the Hawaiian islands, we navigated our way through the rainforest.  The students and I read several rainforest books.  We also were researching on the internet.  The students then turned our classroom into a “rainforest” in their eyes.  In order to do that, they used the books we’ve read and several websites to develop their ideas.  The websites that they used were:

 http://the-rainforest.org/hawaiian-rainforest-plants/
(this one has AMAZING videos on it.  The students sat and watched independently the ones of their choosing to get ideas.  Hearing things like “Mrs. Brown, there is a bird!  I see different kinds of flowers” and then putting it into action with construction paper. )

 http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/photos/tropical-rainforests/#/riolos_16405_600x450.jpg
(the students searched through the different photographs to find a rainforest that they would like to copy…this one was not as interesting to them) 

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/photos/rainforest-tropical-wildlife/#/young-piranha_75_600x450.jpg
(this shows the different animals that could potentially live in the rainforest.  They attempted to create these animals (even if they were purple instead of brown, etc) and apply the knowledge that they were finding.  

I was thoroughly impressed with their abilities to independently guide their thinking. I was simply there to hang it up.  Out of 21 students, 20 were right on task and able to drive their own learning and interests. I have taught this unot for years, but once again changed it up for more student driven instruction.

I would love to hear how your students guide instruction.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Online world

Good afternoon blogger world! Technology seems to be taking over every aspect of life these days. I have absolutely no fear of technology and embrace the possibilities. When I decided to earn my masters in educational leadership, I chose the online route. Honestly, I feel like I worked hard to earn my degree. I put in the hours, did research and collaborated with a wide variety of  professionals through a different modality.  No, I didnt meet with a class once a week.  No I didn't sit with other people face to face. I felt empowered to make my learning deeper because I wanted to get the most out of it.

My students are engaged in a wide variety of technological activities. They apply research skills using both physical copies and online resources. The students are beyond just going online to play a game (although from time to time they do), but rather make an academic choice to type a letter or sight words because they can. Students in my class create lists and sentences using clip art in smart notebook. I feel that students are engaged utilizing a variety of learning tools, including technology.

My question to the world is.... how do you feel about technology and or online learming? I know it is a hot topic and I am curious!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cant believe it is May!

Last year I began the adveture of beginning my own teaching blog. I have to be honest... I have been slow on the posts. Let it be a lot of additional school work, personal things or just way too little time, I decided it is time to get back into the swing. There are so many things I want to post.

First, my students have shown me such interest in the dictionary and thesaurus this year. Yes. They choose to read it and find new words. Of course there are words in it that may not be appropriate, but I  am teaching the skill of vocabulary building, spelling, abc order and so much more! It amazes me. What amazes you this year? Kids never cease to amaze me!

Next, I cant believe it is May already. As always, May brings busy busy busy. My students are in the process of preparing for our end of year show for their parents! Today, I had the students decorate guitars I cut out of cardboard boxes. Yes, it was a lot of work to cut them out, but watching the pure joy and enthusiasm the students had today was.....priceless. They care about their work. This is just another reminder that students need to be engaged in their academics to get something out of it! As a teacher, what do you do to engage your students? What is YOUR students favorite activity....what makes it that way?

Lastly, has anyone been exploring student driven instruction in their classrooms? I find that when students engage in exploration of their own ideas, the learning gets deepened. Like the dictionary...by taking it upon themselves, they are not only deepening their own skills, but helping others as well!

Let's discuss! I would love some feedback!

Happy almost Friday!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two days out...

As we are two days out from winter break, I know that the kids energy is pretty high.  Mine, however, is higher!  I having taken a personal goal this week to boost it up!  I'm throwing out the positives and just showing the kids that I care.  I know they realized it prior to this week, but why not show more?  It is absolutely amazing to see how the kids react when you show that you care even more!  I absolutely love it.  

In addition, I have been trying to bring some cheer to our building this week/last week too.  That is a harder feat sometimes because everyone is so busy.  Another teacher and I have taken it on to do positive staff incentives and fun!  This week I have been the bearer of delicious candy canes when we play "Guess Who I Am" everyday!  I write a couple of clues about a fellow teacher and the first one with the right answer wins a candy cane.  Did you know that candy canes are a simple joy?  I love to see happy faces on fellow teachers too.  :)  What does your building do for positivity?  These answers would help me too because I would love to be a successful administrator some day too.  

Here is a song that I seem to listen to if my mind isn't in the right mind set.  It always puts me at ease.  


Happy Holidays to everyone.  :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Where The Wild Things Are

When I first began teaching, I taught the holidays at this time of the year. After a few years, it seemed like celebrations started to dwindle and I taught the holidays less and less. So, I added a Gingerbread man unit, but it wasn't my favorite. (and still isn't) I thought, one year that it was time to have the children recreate a story. What more appropriate than Where the Wild Things Are. This seemed appropriate being that the children are a little "wild" right now. Perhaps this was my way of "taming" the wild ones. ha! All in all, I created activities to make the story come to life and interesting to the students. I have multiple different centers that I do with the children. First, I have the children use "monster feet" to measure things around the room. It was simple fun! The children love the non-standard measuring. It's so much more interesting that using a ruler, right? I thought so! This tied our math into our study. Here is a picture:
The next station is the book/listening station. The children got to enjoy the stories independently as well as a version I found on Learn360. (It was only 8 minutes long) They loved it! Sorry no pictures of that!


Next, we worked on understanding the characters and setting of the story. The children needed to identify the details of each character/wild thing as well as the setting. Afterwards, they chose the character/setting feature that they'd like to create. I put those pages/pictures onto overheads and the children re-created the characters/setting by tracing! Once they traced their character, I copied over with dark black lines. The students then were responsible for coloring it in! I didn't care what colors they ended up because I didn't want an exact replica of the story. I wanted our own interpretation of it! The children did a tremendous job! Here are pictures of them tracing and the final product! Of course I didn't add all pictures, it would have been a long list of pictures! I just chose a few.



All in all, this project made the students work together in a small group or partner to create a replica of Where the Wild Things Are. The students were very well behaved and "tamed" if you will. I love the details and effort they put into each character or setting piece. I already have students asking what the next book will be! Hooray!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Keeping in shape!

Okay, so not really. This post isn't about the best way to stay in shape. I'd be the last person to ask as I sit here snacking. Lol. This is a post about teaching shapes!
I noticed throughout the quarter that some of the shapes were inconsistent for some of my kiddos. So I decided to reteach them again. And again. Wait, reteach??? You mean kids don't always get it the first time? ha ha!
In order to teach the shapes again, I had them rotate through shapes centers that emphasized the shape word as well.
First center was a smart board activity that I created just for this purpose. I had the children label the different shapes. Once they finished, they could build using the shapes.  Now mind you, I do not have a smart board...just an lcd projector. I have to 'check out' a smart board room in order to use it. I did that for one day of stations by lugging all of my stuff there and back. Ugh. The second day, forget it. I'll use my lcd.
The second center was using geoboards. I had the children practice making each shape and then creating their own. I also had discussions with each group to identify the shapes they used in their 'picture' to emphasize the vocabulary.
Thirdly, I had the kids practicing their shapes with shape templates. They then wrote how many of each shape they used with a white board marker.
Lastly, the children wrote all shape words and drew a picture using the shape wall.
Overall, these stations were a success. The children were highly engaged and learning. With such a push towards literacy, I needed to make sure the simple math doesn't get lost in translation. :)
Happy holidays! Maybe you can stay in shape with me too!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

I apologize

It has been far too long since my last post. I apologize, my dear followers.

I am preparing for parent teacher conferences this week. What do you feel is the hardest part?
What do you enjoy about them?

For me, I truly love conferences. I get to meet with parents and discuss their amazing children. I love seeing the look on their faces when they see the amount of growth in such a short period. It's awesome to me.

How do you prepare for a conference that you are nervous about? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Smiles,
Christy

Monday, September 24, 2012

We all fall for apples!

These first few weeks have been a whirlwind of events!  It's pretty awesome being so busy, isn't it?  Just for being happy followers and feeling happy myself, I'll happily share my thoughts and ideas with you!  Lucky you!  Right?

So, color weeks were awesome, but I am always so happy when they end too!  I just never feel like there is enough time in the day to get to everything!  (even with all day Kindergarten!)  This week, I had the students start a color mixing station.  It allows them to be five and six, and even practice writing their color words!  Hooray for that!  Here is the document you can get for free!  <3


So, this week also started the lovely apple unit!  Yes, apples!  What teacher doesn't love apples, right?  Today started off right with our wonderful apple graphing.  It is such a simple activity where the students learn new terminology such as "equal" or "more than, less than" etc.  Putting the apples on the graphing mat was exciting enough!  They love interaction!  Here is a picture of our fun....


To help make things more interactive, I also had the children using my computer to practice patterns.  Now, I am not fortunate enough to have a SMART board in my classroom right now, so I utilize my LCD projector all day long and in as many ways as possible. (when I can't get to a SMART board...)  Here is what pattern with an LCD projector looks like.  The children also got to practice this independently while they were eating snack today!  Awesome activity.  I will post that on my Teacher's Notebook website, but totally free too!  I couldn't get it to upload and work correctly in google docs.

In addition to patterns, the children will be hearing the story Ten Apples Up On Top tomorrow.  Once they finish, they will practice sequencing apples up on top of their own heads.  How you say?  Well, I have printed pictures of each student.  They will glue their picture down and cut and paste ten apples up on top in order!  You can find those apples here too!
Lastly, we have also begun to transform our classroom into Fall being that the seasons are quickly changing! I had a parent do a painting project with the kids because once again I feel like my time is sooo cramped already!  They sponge painted leaves and they are now hanging from the ceiling. 
Simple fun, so quickly forgotten...


Boy oh boy, am I having a hard time with blogger today!  It's bouncing all over the place and nothing seems to want to stay!
Guess it's a sign to be done!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Yeeeehaaaa!

Tonight marks our annual reading night!  We are set for a cowboy theme! My classroom is a read by the campfire room! I get to read with my friend of eleven years! We have such a fun time together. I love hanging with her!  We are all set! Exciting!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A full plate means....work more!

These next few weeks will have me on an emotional roller coaster.  There are many things going on outside of school (some of which I won't be posting about, sorry...) that will be keeping me on my edge of my seat and nervous.  One of which is my husband...my poor husband.  He has to have another surgery next Thursday.  This man has endured so many injuries in his life and I am thankful to God on a daily basis that he is living.  His arm is a disaster and is having yet another surgery to help him heal.  Pray that it helps because I'm not sure he can take much more.  :(

With all of that on my mind and plate, I have come to the realization that I go nuts and start working even harder.  I managed to create a new PowerPoint for Curriculum night, finished my weekly newsletter and lessons through the 19th.  I don't know what drives me to work harder, but perhaps it keeps me busy or distracted enough to make it through my days.

What do you do to distract yourself?  I know some people shop to alleviate stress.  I would love to hear what you do to distract your mind or how you handle stress!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My busy mind...

We came back to school this year and I was all set to go.  I didn't have to change a thing.  Well, or so I thought.  After a day of teacher meetings last week, it came to our attention that we were adding some vocabulary to build consistency among the building.  I am totally on board with that and support it whole heartedly.  We were going to have class incentives as "filling the bucket."  In case you haven't heard the story, you need to check it out.  There are several editions and it's an awesome story.  Click the story below to find a copy:

Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for the Young Child
Well, since I absolutely love this story and think it has good meaning for the students, I suddenly need to change something last minute.  I had created my beautiful butterfly that the children earn as my class incentive.  I couldn't use that any longer and have it make sense with the words "fill the class bucket."  So....extremely quickly I created a bucket.  It says "Let's Fill our Class Bucket!"  I was so happy with my bucket.  I read the bucket book to my children yesterday.  They looked at me and said "Mrs. Brown, you need to add a smiley face to our bucket."  Yes, they said that!  After taking their honest feedback since Kindergarten students do not hold back....  Here is our final bucket:

In addition to filling my bucket, my students have a great way of working together already.  I think it's so important to teach patience and cooperation right away.  Yes, I said teach patience.  It must be taught at such a young age and by working together they learn both skills.  My students are on day four of class and today we worked together to create a "friendship chain."  It's that traditional chain made of construction paper, but....  by working together they made it "our" classroom.  I am so proud of them!  Simple activity, yet very effective.

We just were so busy in these first few days of school.  The kids and I started talking about letters that make up words, starting with their names.  The children enjoyed the story Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom and then created their own tree.  I had typed their names in using boxes around them.  They cut them out and glued them on as the letters for the coconut tree.  Click the book below to find the book.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Here is an example of our trees.  It was amazing to see the different trees.  It also gave me a good idea of who can follow multi step directions and who can't.  Success for some, not for some others.  No worries...they'll get it!


It has been a productive week and I am so happy to be back in the swing of things.  I am reminded on a daily basis the reason why I began teaching in the first place.  Don't forget that reason.  I ran into this quote today on Facebook.  It pretty much sums things up for the day:



Have a great rest of your week, everyone!