Monday, December 28, 2015

Who Doesn't Like Cute Shirts??

If you know me, you know I LOVE tshirts. Long sleeved, short sleeved, you name it, I love it! I have a few drawers thag are dedicated soley to tshirts. My grade school, high school, and college tshirts definitely take the majority! However, I have so many other fun tshirts that are perfect for everyday wear!

One shirt I want to brag about for a hot second is my Teacher Blogger shirt that I got for FREE (yes, reread that) from A+ Images! They had an amazing promotion earlier this year that allowed teacher bloggers to design their short based off of their logo and colors! The ease of ordering and QUICKNESS with shipping are two amazing reasons why I loved working with them! The shirt was amazingly soft and exactly what I pictured! The quality of my blog design was picture perfect!! I can't wait to work with them again and HIGHLY recommend them for your next shirt order!

THANKS AGAIN A+ Images for keeping me stylish and being so awesome!!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Five For Friday!

WE DID IT!!! Here we are on the last Friday of the 2015 school year!! At the beginning of the week, I wasnt sure we would make it!

Nothing starts a Friday off better than a little Five for Friday, thanks to Doodle Bugs Teaching for the linkup :)

We got to find out elf in quite a few places this week!! He has kept us busy and on our toes with our behavior! He leaves little notes and reminders that totally have helped my kiddos remember the expectations! Nothing has been as much fun as seeing my little rays look all around excitedly trying to find where Candy Cane is each day!

I am a huge fan of dressing up on any occasion, but getting decked out in holiday attire is just my absolute favorite!!! This year, I donned a new soft and fuzzy red tree skirt! I paired it with my 'Happy Holla Days' shirt and candy cane socks! Topped it off with my cheetah hat and life was GOOD!!! My kiddos loved it!!

We worked hard on composing and decomposing and my little rays did an awesome job crating story problems! I came up with a quick assessment/craftivity to see how well they were comprehending, and boy did they surprise me! The candy cane number sentences turned out amazing!!

On Thursday, we had our PBIS celebration to honor the students who continuously show school expectations! One of the crafts that the kids made were stained glass snowflake art! They were so pretty!

Not only did we have the PBIS celebration, but we also made SNOW! All four kindergartens gathered in the hallway and got busy (and dirty) playing with the snow we made! (Baking soda and conditioner!) So easy and SO fun!!

How was your week???? Make sure to link up and share :)


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Scoop!

I love me some Sundays! I get to take a deep breath, look at my week ahead, and tell myself, "You CAN conquer this week!" I also LOVE linking up with The Teaching Trio for Sunday Scoop!! I am ready to take this last (insane, crazy, chaotic, fun filled) week before break on!

I have to finish my Christmas shopping! Leave it to me to still have lots to do and only two weeks left! Luckily, I know just what I need for most everyone. There is something about the hustle and bustle of being around all the holiday shoppers that I love/hate to put myself into! I also have to get laundry done. It is my most dreaded chore. Surviving the week is a MUST! There are too many fun things to do at school that I have to make it to Friday at 2:45. Then HELLO Christmas Break!

I have a list bigger than Santa's list I am sure of it! Between shopping, preparing for the holidays, lesson plans, activities for my kiddos, and more, I feel like I will never reach the end ;) I hope to do a little R&R this week as well! Sometimes I forget to take my chill pill and end up frazzled: NOT THIS WEEK!!

Is there anything better than a potluck?!?! YES! A Potluck & Ugly Christmas Sweater Party!!! One of my most favorite days of the year!!!!! I go a little untraditional and opt for a tree skirt and holiday shirt and this year I am SO excited! I got my new skirt and am beyond ready to spin around the halls in it!!!! Plus, eating yummy food that lasts us the whole week???? DOUBLE WIN!!

I can already assume that this week is going to be filled with lots for all teachers! Here is a friendly reminder: YOU ARE AMAZING AND YOU CAN DO IT!!!!

What does your week look like??? Don't forget to link up and share!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Peek at my Week!

At the blink of an eye, the weekend goes by and it is time to get ready for the week ahead!!

This week, we are going to continue learning about holidays all around the world! We will learn about celebrations and traditions for Hanukkah, Italy, the Netherlands, and Canada! So far, my kiddos have LOVED learning about what other kids celebrate. It has given us the opportunity to talk more about how we are all unique and have different views, but can still be friends! I have been so impressed with their comparing and contrasting the different kind of holiday celebrations. They are seriously getting too smart ;)

My little rays have been knocking it out of the ballpark when it comes to Daily Five! Their transitions are getting smoother and smoother each day and their work is getting even more impressive! The questions have dwindled (we are working on it a LOT!) and their focus is getting better!

We are continuing with composing and decomposing numbers in math. I am planning on LOTS of partner work this week! Kagan strategies will be implemented in room 103! I love using team strategies because it has given us opportunities to bond and have a strong sense of unity! My little rays are working hard to be assistants rather than tell their partner how wrong they are. Using these strategies has helped my kiddos to be respectful and responsible of their learning! 

Our classroom elf, Candy Cane, treated us very nicely last week with surprise treats, a new movie, and silly notes! We can't wait to see where he will be this week! 

Friday. Oh boy! Friday is a day that has an agenda all of it's own. For starters, it is Cuddle & Compassion Day! Students can wear pajamas and donate to St. Jude in honor of a former student. Not only will we be out of uniform, but it is also POLAR EXPRESS DAY!! Hands down one of my most favorite days! We read the story on Thursday and then transform our hallway into a train station for a 'private' showing of the movie! We get together with our buddy class and watch the Polar Express while we enjoy hot chocolate in our pjs! Does it get better?? Well if by better, you mean crazy, yes!! After the movie, we will eat lunch and come back to have our Winter Festival party! Students will play games, make a craft, and enjoy a snack. We also have a speaker coming in to talk about dental health. We should probably apologize in advance for having the hot chocolate ;) it is going to be a LONG day full of some chaos and laughter and as daunting as it seems, I have to admit I love it!!!! 

It will be a crazy week (but aren't they all??) full of new learning and plenty of celebration! 

What does your week look like??

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Five For Friday!

Wow! What a week!! Sometimes TGIF couldn't be more true ;) I am linking up with Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for this week's Five for Friday!!

This week has been full of surprises from the North Pole and trips around the world!

We received a package on Monday straight from the North Pole! Our class was gifted an elf to watch us for Santa!! My kiddos LOVED receiving this special guy and couldn't wait to name him! After quite a few interesting requests, we finally settled on Candy Cane! We love our daily surprises from him and have been working hard to stay focused and quiet while we work so that he won't leave! I have *yet* to have a student touch or attempt to touch him (don't ask me how!) We can't wait to continue getting visits from Candy Canes!

Graduate School- Here I come!!! After taking a year off of school, I am headed back to Bradley University to get my Master's! After speaking with my advisor and board director, I am THRILLED to be continuing my education. I can't wait to be opened up to new strategies and studies in education!

My sweet little baby dog is almost a year old! I would have NEVER thought of myself of having a dog, especially when I can hardly handle my own self, but this pup has been AMAZING! Now, waking up before 5 to walk him and standing in the snow for him to find his 'spot' are not my favorite, but I will do it for him ;)

We started our unit for Holidays around the world! So far we have learned about the United States and Christmas, gone to Germany to hear about St. Nicholas and gingerbread houses, and are about to learn some more about Kwanzaa! My kiddos love pretending that we are going on a trip (well, some actually thought we were headed to Germany, but that is another reason to love kinders!!) Our hallway is decked out with a giant flying plane ready to take us where we need to go! Next week will take us to many other countries and traditions!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! I don't know about you, but I LOVE the holiday season!! Christmas music is on repeat EVERYWHERE I go (car, bedroom, kitchen, classroom) Seriously, how could you not love it? The love and kindness that fills the air in December is something I wish I could bottle up and save forever! I love watching the holiday television shows *cough*cough*ABC Family's 25 Days Until Christmas*! Above all else, everyone has a sense of unity, no matter their belief. I cherish my faith and look forward to this time of year drawing myself and my family even closer to Christ! What a time to reflect and be thankful for all the opportunities we are blessed with!!

How was your week?!? Be sure to link back up and share your Five for Friday!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December Currently!

I am linking up with Farley for the DECEMBER currently! Yes, you read that right! It is December!!! I am not sure if it is time travel or what, but this year is FLYING by!
December is a month full of holiday celebrations and new traditions that I am just LOVING!!!

Check out my currently below!

Link on up and share all of your CURRENTLY things!

Happy December to all :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Twin Tuesday: All About that Data!

Coming to ya'll hot and fresh on Wednesday (wait...isn't this Twin Tuesday?!) Let's just say the three day weekend and day of testing and chaos may have fried my brain a bit!! So we are celebrating our weekly post on Wednesday this week :)

My twinnie Nicole and I will be tackling the ever so popular topic of DATA! Because at our school we are all about that data, bout that data, and analysis!!! (all about that bass remix!) Once you see how data is used in my kindergarten, head on over to Nicole's page to see how first grade rocks it!

Map Testing: What other way to kickoff the year with twenty some kindergarteners who are trying to adjust to a full day of school without their parents than standardized testing? And to add even more fun, make it on a computer!! I kid, I kid, kind of. It seems overwhelming, but the data we are able to receive from this test is actually extremely helpful for our planning! We only take the Math portion of the NWEA map tests but I am curious to see what a kindergarten Reading test would look like! Anyway, with the data we get from the tests, we are able to look at specific skills and RIT bands that we use for our grade level math workshop groups. We have five math workshop groups, with about 15 students in each. The data we get from Map testing allows us to target one area of the the skills tested to focus on. We then look at the RIT score of the student in that particular subtest and begin placing. Now, as with everything, we also use our own personal observations and knowledge of the students to counterbalance. For example, if one of us has a student who we know can do higher level mathematics but happened to not be able to manipulate the computer, we trust our own judgement to place him into a different group, regardless of his RIT score. We meet daily for 30 minutes with our workshop group. Students can be moved flexibly depending on growth or need of support. After about 6 weeks, we put our students back into a pool and focus on a different subskill!

DIBELS: Oh how I do love me some DIBELS! I enjoy the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with my little rays and assess them. Not only do they feel confident, but they tend to be excited and driven to succeed! For beginning of the year in Kindergarten, we test for First Sound Fluency (FSF) and Letter Naming Fluency (LNF). I do find these tests helpful in my Daily Five grouping, however, they are not the set and stone way I group! I assess my kiddos throughout the week on different ELA concepts (like Heggerty, aka BLUE book, aka MY TEACHING BIBLE!) and use those along with DIBELS. As I introduce letters, sounds, sight words, and more, I am able to see where my students have individual strengths as well as where I think we could focus a little more.
*One tip for DIBELS testing: always wear a fun hat/headband so that other students know they cannot talk to you/ask questions. Works like a charm (well, 99.9% effective)*

For the beginning of the year, I don't switch my Daily Five groups too often because they are just getting started and I want to make sure our foundational skills are concrete. I do plan to switch groups every 4-5 weeks after second quarter begins so that I am able to see more student growth!

How about that Data????? There are a million other factors we look at as well as other sources of data we use, but here is the basics that we use to build our intervention and small group workshops!! Now that you see how Kindergarten uses data, head on over to Nicole's page (Beginnings With Baer) to see what things are like in 1st!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Twin Tuesday!

Here we are back again for Twin Tuesday!!! If this is your first time reading about twin tuesday, head back to my original twin tuesday post to find out what it is all about!

This weeks topic: DAILY FIVE

Daily Five was a time of day last year that I really wanted to improve on. I had daily five, but the time management of it and the success wasn't as strong as I would have liked. We only had 25 minutes, it was right after prep, and it was my first year so I was testing a whole bunch of things. This year, I knew things had to change! When I began thinking about Daily Five, I knew I wanted to have different areas in the room dedicated to each station and differentiated to meet each students' needs. I wanted my students to be successful, independent, and confident in their work. I also wanted to make sure that I was using differentiation APPROPRIATELY! I mean, you can differentiate anything, but if it isn't targeted for your CURRENT students needs, than it is seemingly pointless!!

Before we started our real stations, we spent two weeks practicing working in a team and rotating. I wanted to make sure that our transitions were smooth and quiet and that my little rays worked on their problem solving skills as a team. They impressed me A WHOLE LOT! I was seriously surprised at how they well they worked together! I definitely knew it was time to introduce real stations.

The stations we have in our room are: Read to Self, Meet With Teacher, Technology, Word Work, and Listening Center.

For read to self, we practiced how to choose a perfect fit book. I introduced fun fingers and pointers to help track and whisper phones. My kiddos were wild about it!! They explore a variety of books and will be ready to take AR tests in a few weeks (hopefully!!!)

Meet with teacher is one that I am excited about (I know, why would I be excited about this one??) This is the station that provides me with an opportunity to sit with a small group and target our objectives. I get to work closely with each group and get to know my little rays even more!! I can narrow what skills we specifically need to work on and assess where they are. I love the small group differentiation because through meeting with me, I am able to challenge students as well aid those who are in need of support.

Our technology center features two different resources. We have two classroom iPads and two classroom computers. The students are able to work on all devices using games and activities that help with fluency, letter identification, syllables, rhyming, and letter sounds! My kids probably would vote this the best station! The ability to add new apps and find resources with technology is so beneficial to learning. I find that my kinders are more engaged when learning through technology so using this station has been a big plus for this year!!

Our word work changes from month to month and is designed specifically for each group. For example, I have one group that has activities focused on letter identification. I have groups that work on letter sounds, CVC words, syllables, rhyming, and sight words. These stations allow me to put materials that are individualized for the group that is working with it. The amount of collaboration, questioning techniques, and problem solving that I get to witness through listening to my little rays at the word work station is quite amazing!!

Our listening center is our final station. We have two classroom iPods that our PTO graciously purchased for us. The iPads have over forty books that are read to the students. They can follow along in a book as well as listen with a partner to retell the story.

I am LOVING daily five this year!! Not only do we have more time, but we practiced the routine so thoroughly that my kids show so much more success than last year!!

How does first grade do daily five?? HEAD ON OVER TO MY TEACHING BESTIE  Beginnings With Baer TO SEE!!!

How do you feel about daily five? Any tips/tricks/advice?! Leave a comment and share!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Twin Tuesday: Classroom Management at the Beginning of the Year

Twin Tuesday ya'll!! And even though my twin wasn't at school today (don't worry, she kept me sane through phone conversations!!) we are ready to post!!

This week we decided that we would talk about classroom management at the BEGINNING of the year. Read below to find out what classroom management in my kinder room looks like! Then stop by my BFF's blog to see how she rocks it in first!!

So this year one of my goals and focuses was on classroom management. I came into the year a few weeks late last year so I missed the most CRUCIAL time to teach my students classroom management! This year was not about to be the same! When I sat down and planned my year, I made sure to dedicate the first few weeks (especially week one and two) to PBIS bootcamp!! I wanted to drill the classroom/school expectations and positive behavior into my adorable little rays routine!

To say I am happy with the turnout is an understatement!!!!!! Let me explain how I taught my students the expectations and my kids made classroom management seem like such an easy task!! The first two days of school, the only items on my agenda were practicing reciting names and transitions (well, and surviving!). We practiced standing up, pushing in our chairs, and going to the carpet (vice-versa) over and over. We walked the halls of the schools in a quiet line. To teach my students how to line up and walk in the halls, I first gave them their line order. It is SO much easier to have the students line up order and saves so many headaches from hearing "I was first!" Not to mention it reduces the pushing/shoving that can happen. My kids feel so mature and responsible knowing their spots in line. We put a bubble in our mouth to keep our voices from escaping us, put our hands at our sides/in our pockets/behind our backs, and my favorite part: we get our MARSHMALLOW toes ready!! Yes, you read right!! I told my kiddos that it is so important to have marshmallow toes because it means that we are so quiet, we will bring smiles to everyone's faces! My kid's LOVE it! My kids know how our classroom works. They understand when to be silly, when to focus, how to behave when other people enter our room, and most importantly, they know how AMAZING they can be.

My students practiced sharing, working together, and transitioning on repeat for the first few weeks. I do not regret a second I spent practicing this with my little rays because they work SO well together. We started practicing and rotating some reading workshops and my kids blew me away! They worked diligently on their stations, transitioned exceptionally well, and impressed me with their ability to work so well together! I have watched them work really hard to help each other and I truly think it is because we worked our little tails off to be respectful, responsible, and safe in our daily routine. We use blue tickets as a reward system at our school. Students who are working hard, showing classroom expectations, and being a friend receive a blue ticket. Once they earn 25 tickets, they get a necklace and a foot charm. Each 25 they get, they earn more feet. Last year it took months for my kids to get necklaces. This year, I had about 12 kids get necklaces the first time they were given out. I promise positive reinforcement is key in classroom management. As soon as I saw a student who was not doing what they should, I would praise a student I saw doing the right thing. The other student immediately corrected their behavior. Since the third week of school, I rarely have to redirect my kids. If I do, once is enough!!

The differences I see in my class this year compared to last differ IMMENSELY, especially when looking at classroom management. Last year, my students had a hard time during specials classes and with transitions. This year, my students have been able to transition so well that they tied for having the best behavior during their prep classes (which earned us a trophy!) AND they won the shelf elf from the library for being the QUIETEST CLASS IN THE WHOLE SCHOOL. Yep, reread that. The WHOLE school. Did I mention I teach kindergarten??? They also have earned almost 30 compasses, a reward given from another teacher for seeing them show expectations in the hallway! My kids impress me on a daily basis. I credit all of our success on the PBIS bootcamp and their desire to learn and grow. I think my students were able to fully grasp what they are expected to do and more importantly, know that I believe that they are capable of it.

Thanks for reading!! What do you do for classroom management in the beginning of the year?? Leave a comment below!! AND Make sure to check out what classroom management in the beginning of the year looks like in first grade with Beginnings With Baer!!!!!!!!!! Seriously, GO, she is AH-MAZING!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Twin Tuesday!

So after such a long hiatus from blogging, one of my teaching besties and I decided we needed a schedule and we needed something that would be 'our thing' to do each week. Accountability is SO important.

We brainstormed a few ideas and finally came up with an awesome idea: TWIN TUESDAY!

The whole twin idea came from the fact that Beginnings with Baer and I are actually twins. I mean, minus a few years, we are identical! Our parents promise us over and over that we are not actually twins, but the similarities don't lie, folks!!!! We have so much in common and the fact that she is my mentor only adds fire to the amazing bond we share!! Finding someone who understands your job, shares your beliefs, and does nothing but build you up can be an extremely hard thing to find. Luckily, I found it my first year!!! I can't even begin to explain how helpful, inspiring, and grateful I am to have been so fortunate :) Not only are we both teachers, but we both have the same humor, deeply rooted faith, energy, and motivation. Having someone I can text at any hour of the day to give me a boost

Enough about us!!! So Twin Tuesday, what is it??? The whole idea behind this is that we will choose a topic (ie: math workshop, literacy stations, writing samples, science, etc) and make it our Tuesday focus. We will share our lessons, activities, and glimpses into our classroom!! We will then write about it and get the viewpoint from a kindergarten class versus a first grade class. Being able to compare and contrast the skills, successes, and struggles of two different grade levels working on the same topic would serve as an amazing reflection. We are also excited to be able to share how things worked and give each other ideas on what worked best for us and what we would change.

Be sure to check out Nicole's blog at Beginnings with Baer because she ROCKS!!

We are super excited to start this Twin Tuesday blogging and would LOVE any feedback and suggestions!!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Motivational Monday

Happy Monday!! Before you ask why the weekend ended so quickly, ask yourself if there is a better job than teaching. Is there really anything that beats greeting 20 adorable and smiley kiddos who are eager to learn, play, and grow?? Is there anything that could be better than being the foundation of a child's education and being able to give them the tools they need to be successful???

I know that we all enjoy a little extra rest, but you can't tell me that these reminders don't make up for it!!!

I am dedicating my Monday posts from now on to provide motivation and positive energy! We are human. We will have days when we feel like crawling back into bed. We will have days when we need 4 extra shots of caffeine. But for each of those days, as well as all the others, we have the opportunity to make a difference!!

So here is some Monday motivation for you!!

The future of the world is in my classroom today ~Ivan Welton Fitzwater

Now reread it. Let it sink in. How does it make you feel? To me, I get a wave of excitement. I feel reenergized. I feel empowered. I feel that what I do DOES make a difference. I remember the importance that my attitude, my commitment, and my job have on the little ones in my room. These kids are my students, but they are even more than that. Within a couple of weeks, these little five year olds have become my kids. I defend them, I praise them, I empower them. I hold them to the highest of expectations not to intimidate them, but to show them what I know they are capable of. I push them, I laugh with them, I remind them that it is okay to be silly. I give them the tools they need to be successful and teach them to love to learn. Being a teacher is more than just showing up at 8 am and leaving at 3. It is being dedicated to finding new resources and ideas to engage your students. It is reminding yourself that these kids are depending on you to show them the way. The students in our class, OUR KIDS, rely on us to help them. It is our responsibility to give them the strategies they need to be successful, fuel the dreams they have, give them goals to reach, and inspire them to be their best. I am challenging myself to repeat this quote everyday, especially the days when I am feeling defeated because in the end, it isn't about me. It is all about MY kids.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Peek at My Week!

After way too many days (okay, weeks!!) off of blogging, I am BACK and ready for some serious blogging! I let the beginning of the school year take over and am OVER using excuses on not posting. Seriously, I mean who isn't busy? This little lady is ready to get her blogging on!!

Of course the school year gets busy, but what better thing to do then SHARE the chaos with others who understand it! I am thrilled to not only have survived the first five weeks of school, but to have already seen so much growth and excitement from my kiddos! I am beyond thankful that I spent the first two weeks drilling expectations and procedures. My little rays have made me one proud teacher, and we are hardly through our first quarter :)

Some things that I have been working on including in my classroom are anchor charts, technology, and writing. I have been huge on anchor charts and building them WITH the students. I have been using a mix of sound spelling and real spelling, which has helped them with stretching out words and sounds. They have been able to connect to the topic more easily when they have this kind of visual so it will definitely be something I continue. Another thing I have been big on is technology. Not just doing our calendar on the SmartBoard, but integrating it into all subjects and allowing students to participate in it frequently. The hands on and interactive features of technology greatly improve attentiveness. In fact, because I am a big proponent of it, I am spoiling them a bit by including the computers, iPads, and iPods into our Daily Five and Math Workshop time. I am also a big fan of writing. I want my students to be extremely familiar with using writing in all of their subjects. We start the day off by writing in their journal and I try to include it in all of our lessons. I think that it is truly important to familiarize them as often as possible with writing. Even when we draw pictures, we label and work our way towards making sentences. By starting the year off with this as a focus, they will be more apt to push themselves and to be confident in their writing abilities!!

Enough about what we HAVE been doing, onto what we WILL be doing! I decided that Sundays will be my day to show you a glimpse of my week that is ahead! With a half day on Wednesday and assembly on Friday, our week will be a little funky, but I am ready to rock and roll! We are starting our two week unit on Apples, practicing our labeling and detailed pictures, and finding hidden partners to five! We are going into our full blown Daily Five (the past few weeks we have concentrated on rotating, cleaning up, and noise level) and are starting our Junior Achievement internship! We also have a Back to School Showcase that I am thrilled to get ready for! I hope to accomplish quite a few things with my little rays so that they can show off their AWESOMENESS to their parents ;) The weather has finally decided to take a chill pill (literally!) and we will be in a much more comfortable environment which will help the work ethic!

There is a little taste of what is going to be going on with Miss K's Little Rays!
What does your week have in store for you?!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

On Our Way to Week Three!!

WOW!!! Tomorrow we start week three!! It's a little bit scary that it feels like the weeks are already starting to fly by. We have successfully made it to the point where the tears are gone and we are able to just hug our moms and dads goodbye. I had no idea what to expect with the first few weeks of kindergarten, and let me tell you, I was scared!!! Thankfully, I have an amazing team and mentor who keep me sane! One way I am looking to continue my professional development is to focus on one area of my day that I love or need to work on and write about it! I feel like this will help me to hear other ideas as well as show what works for my kids! This week it is going to be fine tuning our Morning Routine!

I know it has only been two weeks, but I can say with confidence that my kids are AWESOME! I am so fortunate to have such an crazy and fun group of kiddos. They have worked their little tails off the last few weeks and I am so proud! We have managed to almost perfect our morning routine. I did not like how my morning routine went last year and changed it a few times to try and find the best fit. The constant changing did not help us to have a very strong routine. Sometimes I had them work on stations, other times we wrote, sometimes we just went to the carpet. Without having a strong start to our morning, we tended to be a little off! I was NOT going to start this year like that.  I spent a lot of time this summer thinking of a way to start our morning and as of now, I love it!!! When I bring my little rays inside, we line up in the hallway and show we are ready for the day. Then they enter the room, unpack their backpacks and put them away. By the time I am in the room, most of them are ready to go! I always have a morning message on the board. We started the year with a typed page that they copied but I was really feeling like notebooks would be better, so we have moved on to those! Each kiddo has a bright yellow Morning Message Notebook. I have a message written in my notebook that is put on the SmartBoard for them to copy. Originally, I was going to type the morning message, but then I decided that it would be easier if they saw handwritten notes that would have the same layout that theirs were going to look like. My rays love having their own notebooks to record in. I explained that at the end of the year, we will be able to look at our first week and our last week and see how much we have progressed (that realllllly got them excited!!!) They have about 15 minutes to copy their morning message and watch our morning broadcast. If students finish their writing before it is time to transition, they can draw a picture of the weather outside (makes for a great connection!). At around 8:45, they transition to the carpet. We start our carpet routine with calendar. As they get more used to the year and we get more familiar with the SmartBoard, we will use the Starfall calendar, but for now we sing the days of the week/months of the year, discuss what day it is, and talk about the weather! We jump right into our Heggerty (phonemic awareness) Book! They already know my incredible love for the big blue book :) It is like my school bible!!! We work on repetition, rhyming, segmenting, blending, and beginning/ending sounds! I make sure to add enthusiasm to this part of our morning because it can kind of be a little dull. I make sure to always have them kiss their brain and celebrate how smart we all are. It may seem like something small, but their confidence soars and they are way more active in their learning :) Always remember, with morning routine: BE CONSISTENT!!!!!!

I am excited to get the day started the right way because I think it will really help my kids to be prepared and focused for the rest of the day!

Check back next week to see how week three went AND to catch my next focus will be whole group math

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ten Tips to Survive the First Week of Kindergarten!!

It seems like the months between May and September really know how to fly by! Within a blink of an eye (or so it seems), summer is gone and school is back in session! As a kindergarten teacher, I get mixed emotions about the first week of school.

Starting out the year, you have ZERO knowledge about your incoming kiddos! You can't ask their teacher from the previous year because, well, you are the where they start!! You don't know the behaviors and attitudes of the beloved children who will be with you and to be honest, it can seem intimidating. Your room will have 20 kids who are in so many ways, NEW. New to the school, new to your rules, new to procedures, and new to each other. I do enjoy At the same time, I get to be their first teacher at this school! How amazing is it that I will get to watch my little rays go from kindergarten to fourth grade and know that I was their beginning?? I love teaching kindergarten for so many reasons, but one huge reason is because you are their foundation. Watching your kiddos grow academically and as little people is so rewarding. We start the year practicing our letters and numbers and I get the opportunity to watch them walk away READING and ADDING. Plus, they are adorable!!!

With all these emotions that filled me up for the week, I wanted to reflect on what helped me make it through! I have put together 10 tips on surviving the first week of kindergarten that I thought would be fun to share!

One: Seriously, make 10 copies. You will want to use it to see who is there, check off hot/cold lunches, forms brought in, to use to make sure all your kiddos are there before lunch/after lunch, dismissal! With the chaos of the first day, there are a lot of kinders who get to school a little late or get lost. By having a roster at hand, when a kiddo is brought in, I can immediately check if they are in my class or not. In short, the more copies, the easier the day will flow ;)

Two: At our school, we meet our students outside in the morning prior to walking in. I made it my goal to meet each student, shake their hand, and give them a big smile. This day can be hard on the kid and parents so I want to make them feel as comfortable as possible!! By calling each student by name and getting on their level, you are showing them respect and giving them a friendly feeling that will make it easier for them to part from their parents!

Three: Always spend the first week going over rules and procedures. These week is when your students are fresh to the whole school thing. By enforcing these rules at the get-go, you are strengthening your classroom management and establishing the expectations that you hold for your students. This is a crucial time to reinforce positive behavior!! We reviewed the expectations in our classroom, hallway, cafeteria, and playground at least 3 times a day. My students were experts and the do's and do not's of our school by the end of the week! Does that mean we are going to be a room full of perfect students? Of course not! But we have established a respectful relationship built on expectations and doing the right thing!

Four: I took every chance I could to find positive behavior and small success to celebrate with my kiddos! By showing them how excited I was when we accomplished  a task, they were ELATED!! We took a walk through the first floor practicing our straight and quiet line. When we made it back to our room, we had a two minute dance party! My students LOVED being about to dance at 9:15 in the morning! It made them feel confident and successful! Every time we had quiet transitions, answered questions correctly, raised our hands, and tried our best, we made sure to pat ourselves on the back/dance a little dance. I think by adding these little celebrations, my kids were way more excited to do what they were expected and got to have a little fun! When we line up, we all check to make sure our marshmallow toes are ready (because marshmallow toes are quiet, duh!) hands are at our side, and bubbles are ready to go! They LOVE to remind me of hallway expectations now :)

Five: Before the questions of where everything is begin, take a tour of the school. I took my little rays on a whole building tour on the second day. By day two, we had practiced our hallway walking and felt we were ready to show ourselves to the upstairs!!! Let me tell you, I have never heard such quiet feet in the hallway than I did when we walked past the third and fourth graders. My kinders REALLY wanted to show them that they were ready for school! I got to show them all the places they would be and it saved me from answering questions that would have otherwise preoccupied every second of the day! It also helped to make them feel more comfortable with the school. For many of the kids, it is their first time in the building so everything seems foreign. Once they get an opportunity to see and go through the school, it becomes THEIR school and that definitely helps to create a positive learning environment!

Six: READ!! Fill their minds with the concept and importance of reading from day one!! I loved watching my little rays eyes light up as we ready a variety of kinder stories that we were able to relate to ourselves!! We looked at pictures and I had them describe what they thought was going on. They loved answering questions and then asking their own! When it came time for buddy reading, my kids got very worried! I heard a whole lot of "But we can't read yet, Miss K!!!". I stopped them and asked them if they remembered when we looked at the pictures and received bobbing heads. I told them that to start off as a reader, you look at pictures and tell your own story! I explained how pictures are a very important part of reading and that each one of them was a reader. They loved hearing that and their confidence soared. I partnered them up and they chose a Big Book to read. As I walked around listening to them talk to each other about the pictures, I couldn't help but smile. They got SO into it! I added stuffed animals to our reading center as well so that they will be able to practice their whisper voices even more throughout the weeks to come!

Seven: Transitions, transitions, transitions! Walk into the room and sit at their table. Have students go to their carpet square. Line up. Repeat. By practicing the right way to transition, you will save yourself from MANY headaches. We drilled how to stand up, push in your chair, and walk to you carpet square. We practiced sitting criss-cross applesauce and getting back up to line up quickly and quietly. I was actually shocked at how quiet my kiddos transitioned! Let's hope it's not just because it was week one! I cannot put enough of an emphasis on transitions

Eight: Laugh. Take time to be silly, laugh with your kids, and when the building seems in chaos, LAUGH. There is something about laughing with your students that creates a special bond. I have found that when students know you laugh (I have had a kid ask me, "Miss K, are teachers supposed to laugh?") it makes them realize you are a person. I have a bubbly personality so I naturally laugh often, but being around my kids and getting the chance to be silly during our dance time or have fun playing on the jungle gym with them allows you to really connect with your students on a personal and genuine level. Never let your stress take over. There will be days where things don't go as planned. Laugh it off. Make a joke, do something goofy. Your kids will laugh right there with ya!

Nine: Hug your students goodbye. I always try to make a point to hug or at least high five each one of my rays as they leave for the day. I want them to know I love them and they are special to me! I never want a student to think that they aren't appreciated. By hugging/high-fiving my kids, I am hoping they realize they are "my kids". You never know some of the situations that your kids come from and that hug can mean a lot more than you even know!

Ten: Take a deep breath. There is no reason to stress over anything that happened. If all your kids made it home Friday, YOU ARE GOING TO BE OKAY!

Now go relax, get some sleep, and remember, only about 8 months left ;)

Monday, August 17, 2015

We Survived the First Day!

ATTENTION: My little rays and I have successfully survived the first day of kindergarten!!

To prepare for the FIRST DAY, I spent my last day of summer laying by a pool followed by a nice family dinner at a steakhouse!! Add in some yoga and an early bedtime and this Kinder teacher was ready to rock and roll!!! I woke up this morning feeling rested and as ready as I could be (there is literally no way to plan how the first day will go!). I didn't have to plan a special outfit because all Kindergarten kiddos and teachers wore matching green shirts! One reason we wear these is so that our babes know who we are. The other reason is so the WHOLE building knows who are newest little friends are!! It is so nice to be able to have all of the staff prepared to help when they spot a wandering kinder!!

As I got to school I made sure my room was ready for the 18939584 time and let myself relax a bit! One of the best parts of the first day is that it is go with the flow! The day is guaranteed to be filled with kids in the wrong places, chaos, and mix ups! Our school works amazingly well together and we always get everything worked out :)

A hinder to the day was the incredibly hot and humid temperatures. In an unairconditioned room with 20 little friends who aren't used to being at school for 7 hours, there is not much comfort! Luckily my little rays are troopers!! I kept them engaged by making sure we were not doing one thing for too long a period of time! We started the morning going over procedures (aka how we will be spending the next few weeks!!!) We then colored a first day of school picture and practiced how to walk in the hallway. I kid you not when I say my kiddos were SILENT in the halls. Now I know this is day one, but I mean, they were quiet as can be and walked in a nice little line. I was doing a happy dance inside!!! They got to learn all about computers in their technology class and then we took our First Day of Kindergarten pictures!! We had made it to lunch (quite the success!) without too many tears or confusion.

Coming back from lunch, we headed straight for our prep time (music). My kiddos were excited to sing and dance, but I could tell when I cam back to them that they were feeling the heat. We took LOTS of water and ice breaks to keep ourselves cool and watched a few videos while we took a little rest time!! I read The Night Before Kindergarten to them and we worked on raising our hands and sharing our thoughts! I loved how they were respectful of each other!! We had a few shout outs, but cmon, we are talking about excited five and six year olds!!!! We finally made it to the point of the day they were all waiting for: POPSICLES!!!! (Side note: I am so lucky to have supportive parents who volunteered to supply our class with popsicles and ice for the first few weeks of school. It is so appreciated and makes me feel oh so lucky!!) We played outside after popsicles and used our cooler to fill up on water and ice because the heat was no joke today!!!

As we packed our bags and got ready to depart I asked my little friends who would be coming back tomorrow. Here are some of their (hilarious) answers:
Friend One: "I don't know. I will have to ask my mom."
Friend Two: "I could stay here forever. Wait...Miss K, can my mom visit??"
Friend Three: "I need to be at home forever actually. I like naps"
Friend Four: "Only if you come back!"

Giggles aside, I love my little bunch!!!! We are in for a year full of learning, laughs, and adventures and I wouldn't trade a single cutie!!!!

Here's to day two!!!!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Meeting My Students!

Meeting My Students!

It is that time of year! Whether we are ready or not, the 2015-2016 school year is here!!! There is a mix emotions coming from this gal: nervous, excited, worried, anxious... The list goes on and on! All the time spent making classroom decor and working to make my classroom an inviting learning environment is about to be put to the test!

But before the year kicks off in full swing, there is one thing to do! MEET MY STUDENTS!! Our school offers an 'Unpack Your Backpack' event where students are able to find out who their teacher is, bring their supplies, and get familiar with the school (especially the kinder babes!!) I have been preparing myself for this day for three weeks but that didn't mean I felt like I was ready! We had a few morning meetings before the students came and that is when the butterflies started to flutter around. The clocked ticked and ticked as I inspected my room making sure it was presentable, everything was labeled, and I was ready to meet all my students and their parents!

Here is a few snapshots of what my room looks like!!

I had set up my desk in stations so that parents could fill out their information while the students emptied their bag at their desk. I loved seeing the beaming faces of the kids as they pulled out their supplies and neatly organized them at their spot! At my desk, I had a sign in sheet, a permission slip for instagram/blog, sign ups for popsicles (it is supposed to be 90 degrees and our building is unairconditioned!!), a magnet that I had made with my name, email, and number, and a little pamphlet that told them all they needed to know about Room 103! It ended with a station to go on a building scavenger hunt where they end up receiving their green kindergarten shirts! All next week the kindergarten teachers and students will wear these shirts so that everyone in the building knows who the little ones are and can help!

11:15 came around and there was my first kid!! The butterflies left as I jumped right into welcoming him into the room! From there, the room began to fill and the time FLEW!!! Being able to meet my students before Monday is extremely helpful. I will be able to recognize who belongs to me, they were able to get comfortable in their classroom and school, and we broke the initial ice that will make Monday flow smoother. Well, as smooth as a 90 degree day in an unairconditioned building with 70+ kindergarteners who miss their moms can go ;). With the final student leaving around 1, I sat back in my chair and took a look at my room. It was filled with items for school, but it was also filled with an air of happiness. I felt a wave of relief wash over me. The nerves I had were gone and all I felt was excited to kick off the year.

I might be biased, but I think I have THE cutest class ever!!! I cannot wait to watch them grow academically, emotionally, and physically (the height difference from beginning to end is incredible!)! I have a feeling I am in for an amazing, fun filled, crazy year and I could not be more enthusiastic to get it started!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What Worked Well Wednesday: Portable Word Wall

There is nothing like prepping your classroom for a new school year. All the anticipation. All the ideas. All the time and money spent. It is ALL worth it!!!!! I am sure I am not alone when I say that there are A LOT of things that I want to tweak or improve this year. One of those happens to be sight words.

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to best display our sight words so that my students have accessibility to it and are able to see it without standing up and walking up to it all day. Searching for ideas, I obviously went to Pinterest (can I get an Amen?!) I searched word wall ideas and came across Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera! blog! I went through it and saw the idea of a portable word wall and instantly fell in love.

For starters, it would free up a bulletin board. With all of the things that need to be displayed in the room, saving bulletin space is AMAZING!! I also loved the fact that I could place it somewhere easy for students to grab. They can walk right up to it and select the letter that they need. It will save time and chaos because students will not have to stand, get a clipboard, and squint to read the words a foot above their little head (or is it just my kids..??).

I started by measuring the space that I was going to use! This is important because you want to make sure you have enough space in between the clips and that they can be evenly displayed (13 on top, 13 on bottom-my inner OCD coming out). I *THOUGHT* I knew what size to make the word wall cards from that measurement and started to make the cards. I did the front card (the letters of the alphabet) in one color (black). I made our sight word card another color (white). I am going to add color words on red paper, number words on orange paper, and word families on different paper. I am hoping that this will make it easier for my students to flip to the correct category to find the words they are looking for!

I sorted them in their alphabet order and then put them in the order that that they appear throughout our quarters. I hole-punched the cards in the corner and simply put a binder ring on them!!

*Note* We have color and number words in our sight words as well. I have chosen to put them in another section in addition to the sight word section because I want my students to be able to find the word quickly and efficiently. 

Here is a picture of them hung up! Notice that I made my word cards a little bigger than I should have! I could trim them, but then the border will be gone so I am going to let this way settle in for a bit!!

Here are some close ups of the letter cards!

I am SO excited to use this portable word wall this year! I am truly hoping that my students will utilize it more and that it will play an essential role in their fluency!!!

Part two will be a follow up :)

What do you do for your word walls??? Leave a comment below!!!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Five For Friday! 8/7/15

After more than a week of hiatus, I am finally back!!! I took a much needed mini vacation to Michigan to have a little relaxation before the school year starts! What better post to come back with than a little Five For Friday with Doodlebugs Teaching!!

I love taking a few snapshots from my week and getting to see what you all are up to!! With only a few short days until school starts, I am trying to enjoy my final days of relaxation and less responsibility. Not that it is easy because I find myself constantly working on something for school! Anywho, here are some highlights from my last full week of summer!!!!

I got to watch the BEAUTIFUL sunset in South Haven, Michigan! It was so nice and relaxing to just get away for a few days and the Michigan sunset with one of my best friends! Fun Fact: We have gone to school together since the age of five!

While we were in Michigan, we took a class where you paint a picture (with the help of an instructor) and enjoy wine! I have been wanting to try this for a long time and am so glad we did! It was so fun AND they turned out WAY better than I thought! I may even hang mine up in the classroom!!

My running view along the lake!!! So pretty!!

By looking at this picture, you can TOTALLY tell I have experience in yoga ;) Honestly the most peaceful thing I have done!

Clearly I enjoyed vacation because my third clip of the week is from my workouts while I was in Michigan. I loved running on the lake front and even better, YOGA ON THE BEACH! Yes, you read that right! I got up and enjoyed the sun rising while listening to the waves of the ocean and literally finding my zen. It was so tranquil. You can bet I will be doing yoga sessions throughout the school year because I have NEVER felt better!!

I have been working for the past few weeks on my classroom and am getting closer and closer to feeling finished (even though I am FAR from it!) I need to take a few more pictures to see the whole set up! I am pretty proud of the fact that I made ALL of my classroom decor. It was a labor of love and SO worth it!!

Oops no picture!!!
This is my second year teaching, but my first year STARTING kindergarten (I came week 3 last year), so I got the opportunity to work at our registration!! Our kinder team of four plus a few other helpers spent 5 hours today and 5 more on Friday welcoming new families and getting them all set up for this school year! I loved meeting everyone and it really got me excited to start the year!

Thanks for taking a look at my week!!! I can't wait to read yours :) Make sure to link up and share your fun!!!!!