Sunday, August 20, 2017

My Kindergarten Calendar: Number Writing Practice

I have just put up a new product on TpT. It is a quick and easy monthly calendar that gives students number writing practice. You can pull this out at the beginning of the month, practice increasingly challenging number writing activities, and talk about the month ahead. My Kindergarten Calendars are a fun way to practice number writing skills in a meaningful way.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Teaching New Part 2: Getting Settled

After my acceptance of the position as Kindergarten teacher, I met with the principal, who took me on a tour of the school. I come from California and am used to schools with outdoor hallways. Since I now live in the Pacific Northwest where rain is a constant thing, I am moving into an indoor school. (I actually think  that it's pretty cool. Reminds me of The Neverending Story, and I LOVE The Neverending Story!)

My building is called Kinder Village, since it is its own smaller building next to the main building. I think that name is pretty adorable.

After my tour, it is on to...

Step 2: Moving In

I have my keys! Yes, I can unlock the building, walk down the hallway, open the door, look inside. And when I look inside, guess what I find? A classroom full of stuff left by someone I have never met. Granted, it was very nice to have access to materials in case I didn't have any. There are a million books, lots of games, flashcards, toys, etc. The problem is that I have been teaching for 12 years and have all of MY stuff in a storage compartment somewhere, waiting to arrive. Where am I going to put it??

I have to make a game plan:
1. Go through curriculum and get rid of anything old.
2. Put all books into one area of the room.
3. Clean out and organize cabinets
4. Organize math pieces and flashcards as much as possible.
5. Move furniture around so that it looks like I did something!

So far I have completed these steps. Now, I just need to put everything in its place. I also need to be mindful of everything else I need to bring into the room. It's overwhelming, but I am making progress.

What is amazing is that I have found items that I LOVE and do not own. Also, I can get a good look at the curriculum I will be using and begin my planning process. My goal is to be done with the cleaning by the end of the week. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Teaching New Part 1: The Interview

Hi everyone! I began teaching Kindergarten in 2005 and have been teaching 12 years! (Yes, that's math...) Well, I am in a new state and starting a new school! AND, I am still teaching Kindergarten! Yay!

I thought it might be fun to document my time as a relocated teacher. Everyone fears change (especially me!) and having to start over is never easy. So, as a little reassurance to other teachers out there, and for myself, I will be walking through my steps to becoming an old teacher in a new place.

Granted, some teachers may never have to experience this craziness. Some may experience this kind of specialness a lot. But, I don't think many people have taught 12 years somewhere and then had to relocate and start over. If you have, leave a comment! I would love to hear your story. 

Here we go....

Step 1: The Interview
First of all, I was desperate for an interview. I thought it would never come! Seriously, I thought it would never come. Everyone said it was a matter of time. But, my brain was telling me otherwise. Shows what my brain knows. I got an interview 2 weeks into the move. When I finally got one (after applying at 20 different schools!) I did everything I could to make sure I stood out as a highly-qualified teacher.

Of course, I bought a new outfit. Obviously...

I applied for the Oregon Teaching License. You can't expect your old credential to get you noticed. 

Then I started to get my teaching portfolio together. Here are some pics:
 Colorful cover

 Table of Contents

 Introduction Letter

 PowerPoint Presentation I gave at the interview

Student Samples

Many teachers already have a portfolio, and mine is by no means the best way to do it. This is just a small example.

What I think DID set my interview apart was my presentation. Usually you go to an interview and the committee asks you questions and you answer them as best you can. Instead of that standard process, I did a PowerPoint presentation that actually included a video of me teaching a lesson. Not only did my presentation answer a lot of the committee's questions ahead of time, but they were impressed with the example of actual teaching. Many principals have never had a candidate bring video of practice before. I included it in the Methods portion of my presentation as a YouTube link.

The interview went very well, and I felt very relaxed answering the questions they did have for me. I was offered the position the next day! Yay!

Next up, I will share my war with setting up a new classroom while most of my stuff is still in storage and all I have is what is left over from the previous teacher. Should be interesting...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Counting in Kindergarten

Learning how to count is something we all do. But, how do we do it? I think those who are not teachers can take for granted the process that children have to go through to learn how to count. And there is a difference between learning how to count and how to apply strategies to counting. Everyone has a friend who can look at a group of objects and count it in their head while you are stuck counting it slowly and inaccurately. As a Kindergarten teacher, giving students the skills at an early age to organize their thinking and apply these strategies to different situations is what teaching is all about!

I LOVE to use manipulatives when I teach counting. Dumping a bunch of seashells on a table and asking the kids to count them is so fun for them and so helpful for me. It is a quick insight into their ability to rote count. Without rote counting skills, nothing can be done in the world of math. Building from there, having them use the number line, use ten frames, base 10 units, etc., is all branching off the ability of rote counting.

Each year I use my Kindergarten Counting Unit to have students apply strategies and think about their numbers through out the year. Students work through number 0-30 and do everything from one-to-one correspondence, to base 10, to number order. Take a look:

In addition to my counting unit, I LOVE Deanna Jump and Deedee Wills' Guiding Kinders Math Units. I actually use these more than the school curriculum (shhhhh.......). They are organized into monthly units and really hit everything that Kinders need in a math curriculum.

And, just for fun, I thought I would throw out one of my favorite resources in young children's math research. Megan Franke is an author/researcher/genius who really looks at how young children learn and what makes learning fun and engaging. I have seen her speak and always leave so inspired. If you get a chance read any one of her books. They are amazing!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Back to School Sight Word Bundle

For many, summer vacation is just about over. Teachers are kicking it into high gear to get classrooms ready and prepare the year ahead. Every year I always take a look at my curriculum map and go over everything I need to cover. I look at the curriculum adopted by the school and know that I am going to need to supplement the heck out of it!

My team and I use my Sight Word Units throughout the entire year. These awesome units, which were created as a joint effort, I assure you, allow students to practice 5 sight words a week. My center units allow students to review the old and practice the new every week using fun activities.

Studies have shown the Kinders are ready to learn 100 or more sight words during the school year. Why hold them back?? Using these units, you will have everything you need to create a comprehensive sight word program for your Kindergarten classroom.

 These are the direct instruction sight word lessons. I do one page a day, with a lesson on specific words throughout the week. I have linked the Sight Word Bundle to the pictures, but you may choose to buy the units separately, Pre-Primer and Primer. 
And the great news is that the Core Word Units are FREE!!

 Below are the centers that accompany the Sight Word Units.
These have a built in spiral review so that students are practicing the words new and old. Again, these pictures are linked to a bundle, but you may buy them in three separate units: Core/Pre-Primer/Primer

I begin teaching the Core Words the second week of school, alongside the letters and sounds. There are 3 words in a list and 7 lists in the Core Word Unit. Its gives students a jump start in understanding how letters make words and a solid foundation of the most used words in their stories. Because the unit is FREE you can try it! If you like it, you may choose to continue on with the program. I do one list a week, UNLESS the week is short or students are having a particularly difficult time with a list. 

My experience over the past 5 years using this program is that my Kinders are reading on average 90 words by the end of the year. I call that success! Leave me a comment if you have had any success with my program. I would LOVE to hear about it.

Back to School Sale!!!!! Yaaaaaay!!!!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Communication Calendar Update!

For all of you amazing teachers, home-school teachers, day care providers, and moms (or dads!) who use my Communication Calendars to communicate your child's behavior, you are in luck! I have updated the file so that you will have access to a new school year free of charge! I hate buying something, only to have it need to be renewed soon after. Because I know the struggle of trying to maintain a classroom on a very (VERY!) limited budget, I did not want to make those who have already purchased this product pay for another year. I appreciate your business and hope you have had success with my Communication Calendars.

If  you have NOT used my Communication Calendars in the past, let me introduce you to the most powerful tool I use in my classroom on a daily basis.

Communication Calendars are more than just an event calendar, more than just a behavior chart, more than just a model for classroom management. Communication Calendars are a way to COMMUNICATE to parents on a daily basis about events, behavior, successes, homework, set-backs, whatever you need to communicate. The reason they are so useful is because they are EDITABLE. Communication Calendars are a PowerPoint file and all you need to do is insert a text box to add what you need to the calendar. Please see my post on how to edit the calendar. :) I use these calendars every day for behavior. I put field trips and school event on them. I add holidays, homework due dates, and even a place for parents to initial that homework has been completed. They stay in my students take-home folders for the entire month. Take a look:
 By giving parents the ability to see, daily, how their child is doing in school and giving them the opportunity (in advance) to see upcoming events and homework due dates, parents are empowered and support the kiddos. I think of these calendars as my most important tool because they are so versatile. I hope you download and enjoy this resource. I know me and my AMAZING team have used them for years and cannot live without them.
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