Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October Daily Messages

At the end of September, I posted a set of October Daily Messages for Kindergarten.  Would you believe that I'm just now gettin' around to blogging about them?  Oy...  You can find them in my Tpt store and I'm working on a November set as well.

The messages included look about like the image below, but each one is a little different.

When I did a daily message in my classroom, I put it under the document camera each day. We solved the words with missing letters together.  That gave us an opportunity to talk about specific phonemic awareness skills, phonics skills, word wall words, spelling words, decoding strategies and comprehension strategies together.  Then I gave each student their own copy of the message and they filled in the blanks, read it to themselves and read it to a partner.  Finally, they took their copy home to read it to their parents (or their dog, or a stuffed animal).

When we worked on blends, if we discovered a word that had a consonant blend at the beginning we added it to our Book of Blends.  You can also find My Book of Blends in my Tpt store.

I am lucky enough to visit lots of classrooms for my new job, which I love! I've shared my Super Spelling Forms and Autograph Bookmarks with several of my teacher friends for word work and accountability for independent reading time.

I'm off to a Painting with a Twist event with a friend!  Have a great week!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

5 for Friday!

Linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for 5 for Friday!

Winner! Winner!
A few months ago, I won a custom Erin Condren spiral notebook!
I won it by simply leaving a comment on their facebook page.  Yippee!

I'm a loyal fan of the Erin Condren Life Planners for 3 million reasons.
So, having a chance to try the spiral notebook this year was an exciting surprise!
I love it!  It's larger than the Life Planner, but perfect for taking notes at the 3 million meetings I'm attending for my new job.

fancy cover

custom dividers (with super heavy duty laminate just like the cover)

I'm super excited to have the opportunity to conduct a research study about writer's workshop this year.  I'll be working with a professor from a local university to help guide me through the research process.  I'll be sharing some freebies from my presentations soon.

I'm grateful for author,  Maria Dismondy!  I've known Maria for a few years now and her books are empowering children (and teachers) across the country.  
You can visit her site to check out her books and read more about her work. 

Life is good when your kids go to a school that allows teachers 
to provide alternative seating to motivate students to learn.  
I'm proud to share that this is my husband's middle school classroom.
Most of the furniture is made by his students!

When you are person who sets goals for everything and loves a good competition, 
change is exciting!
That's me.
And this is the my motto for my new job.
Change makes great things even better!

Happy Friday Saturday!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Currently October

It's time for Currently!  Thank you, Farley (Oh' Boy 4th Grade), for hosting each month!  If teacher bloggers were eligible for Emmy's Farley would certainly be nominated, win and rock out the speech.

What is currently happening in my life is very different 
than what has happened to me in October for the past 16 years.

Listening - We have two goldendoodles.  Kalli likes me better. Daisy likes my husband better.  I don't know why.  They should both like me better because I am the one who takes them on walks, lets them on the bed, buys them treats and throws the tennis ball for them in the backyard. It's a mystery.  

Loving - I started a new job as an Instructional Coach this year.  In my new role, I work as a member of the Instructional Support Team in our district.  We each have different roles and our leader (boss) is fabulous! I know I'm going to learn a lot from her.  It was really hard for me to leave my elementary building to take this position, but as I get to know my team it is clear that I made the right decision. 

Thinking -  When I packed up my classroom, I brought 32 of those giant rubbermaid bins home.  In addition to that I brought home 12 big pieces of furniture that belonged to me (book shelves, tables, chairs).  I need to keep lots of it, in case I return to the classroom anytime soon.  But, let's face it...the chances of me ending up in the same grade level if I return are slim.  Time to start digging through the bins, sorting into save/sell piles and posting some of the things that I really don't need.

Wanting - Two weeks ago, I sprained my ankle.  I fell down the basement stairs backwards while trying to carry groceries in from our garage.  The door to our garage is right at the top of the basement stairs and when I stepped to the side to open the door...I accidentally stepped backwards off the top step.  The result - I skinned my knee, sprained my ankle, bruised my elbow and sprouted a giant bump on my head.  For real.  The doctor called it a bad sprain and said it would take about 6 weeks to heal.  She was about 104 and seemed to be barely hearing what I said, so I was hoping she was wrong.  It's the beginning of week 3 and I am probably going to get struck by lightening for judging/doubting her soon.  It still hurts.  It's still swollen at the end of each day.  I spend a lot of energy each day trying to pretend like I am not hobbling. No wonder she laughed when I asked if I would be able to continue my running routine by the next weekend.  

Wanting - I actually already bought the rolling thing.  Once upon a time, I worked as a speech-language pathologist who traveled to 8 different buildings in a week.  After experiencing my cart of speech and language tricks dumping over the in the snow for 2 years, I decided I would NEVER own a rolling cart again.  My new job will require me to travel from building to building to work with teachers.  I broke down on Friday and bought a rolling bag (like the giant briefcase really).  The extra bonus is that it kind of works as a crutch too. :)

I have an appointment to get my nails done today and I'm sure I'll need to grab the ice pack for my dumb ankle by the end of the day.

Earlier this week, I posted a set of October Daily Messages for Kindergarten. If you'd like to try the daily messages, they are on sale from 10/5 (today) to 10/8 in my Tpt store!

In addition to the October Daily Messages for Kindergarten, the following fall themed products are also on sale from today 10/5 to 10/8 in my Tpt store

Be sure to visit Farley to find out what is currently going on with teacher bloggers around the world. 

Off to get ready for my son's soccer game.  It's 41 degrees in Michigan this morning, so I'll be breakin' out my lava seat for sure.  Happy Sunday!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Building Stamina (+ Free Graph)

As many of you know, this was my last week in the classroom.  On Monday, I'm off to my new position as an instructional coach.  I spent the last two weeks transitioning my class (since I was supposed to loop with them this year).  The new teacher is all settled in and I miss the kids like crazy already.  I'll still be posting on a regular basis, so I hope you'll follow along to see what my new adventure brings.

I absolutely love reader's workshop and writer's workshop time! Over the years, I've searched and searched for a resource for reader's workshop.  I've found lots, but last year I fell in love with this fabulous book.  The best thing about it is that it includes a full year of reader's workshop and writer's workshop units. The reader's workshop and writer's workshop lessons are separate in the book (in case you have a required curriculum).  I used the 1st grade version last year and started using the 2nd grade version this year.  The same authors wrote kindergarten through 5th grade editions as well.  It is very user friendly and the mini lessons are clearly laid out.  There are recommended mentor texts and anchor chart suggestions in each unit.

We spent the week working on reading and writing stamina. We talked about reading stamina first (only because reader's workshop comes first in my schedule).  I made this anchor chart with my students.  I added the smiley/sad faces when we created it together this year to help one of my special needs students.  Each day I asked my students to choose something on either side of the chart as a goal to work on improving during our reader's workshop time. We did a "think/pair/share" at the end with partners to discuss whether or not they reached their goals for the day.

We did the same during writer's workshop as we discussed building writing stamina.

Beatrice Doesn't Want To by Laura Numeroff  is my favorite mentor text to use for stamina building mini lessons. The story is an excellent way to kick off a discussion about both reading and writing stamina. I read it toward the end of the week, because by then the students are able to identify the characteristics of reading and writing stamina (rather than having me point them out early in the week).

Throughout the week, we also refered back to our "Things Writer's Write" chart to discuss how we could build writing stamina by working on different types of writing.  We made a similar chart together at the beginning of 1st grade and they quickly ran out of ideas.  This year, my students were so full of ideas that they begged me to make another list to add to this one.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the second one.

I did not ask my students to fill out an individual stamina graph  for reading this year.  I wanted my students to be able to spend their reader's workshop time getting lost in their chosen texts, not watching the clock.  I kept track of the time each day on an iPad timer and we celebrated our stamina building efforts at the end of reader's workshop time each day.

We did use individual stamina graphs for writer's workshop.  I made the graph below.  
You can click on it to download a copy for yourself.  I included 5 days on the graph, so you can use it for one week or make extra copies if you need to continue focusing on stamina for additional weeks.

I'm off to enjoy this beautiful day! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Reflective Teaching - Day 4

I'm survived day 3 of school.  That part was easy.  I love my kids.  It's the packing that is pushing me over the edge.  Packing up all of your teaching possessions in Rubbermaid containers at night during the first week of school, while you try not to make the room look empty, after you just spent the entire summer changing classrooms, preparing for a new grade level and setting up your new room is absolutely not fun.  When the packing is over, the class will have a new teacher and I will be off to my new job. I'm excited about having a new adventure and excited to be done with the packing/moving!

Here is what I learned this week...
I probably qualify for the Hoarders show simply because of the number of plastic bins I own.  It's kind of embarrassing and handy at the same time.

Dt. Dew is necessary during major life transitions.  I don't care what it has in it.  It's my coffee.

Focusing on kids is always a good idea.  I'm enjoying every single minute with my class.  It is an amazing feeling to have the same group of kids (even if it will only be for a couple weeks).  They are just ready to jump right in and get rollin'.

 I'm participating in the 30 Day Challenge for Teachers hosted by Teach Thought.  Reflecting on my own work is important to me.

Day 4 - What do you love most about teaching?

Kids, of course!
 My next favorite thing about teaching is planning.  Not the hours of busy work that you have to do on Sundays... Ha!  I love long term planning, data collection and reflection, curriculum mapping, planning to scaffold learning and planning using the RTI model to improve instruction and support student learning. 

I have two goldendoodles who are pushing my hands away from the keyboard for some attention.  

Hope you had a great week!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Goal for New Technology (Reflective Teaching Day 2)

If you read my post from yesterday, you know that I am starting a new adventure.  You can read about it here.

Even though the first week of school is crazy... I'm going to try really hard to complete the 30 Day Challenge for Teachers hosted by Teach Thought.  Reflecting on my own work is important to me.

Day 2 - Write about one piece of technology that you'd like to use this year.

Since I'll be working in the role of an instructional coach, one of my tech goals is to use a variety of presentation sites/apps.  The first ones that I'm going to focus on using more are Pear Deck (which was recently modeled by our Instructional Technology Coach and Prezi.  I like the features that each has to offer and using them more will hopefully enhance any presentations I need to share with staff.

Today is the first day of school for public school students in Michigan. I love the first day of school!  I have big plans to enjoy the day with my students (even though they'll get a new teacher in a couple weeks). I want them to have a happy first week of 2nd grade!

Happy first day!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Classroom Photos and Big Fat Change of Plans

My school has open house (kind of like meet the teacher night) before school starts.  The Michigan public schools don't officially start until September 2.  Our open house was last week on Wednesday.

Twas the day before open house and my room was unpacked (I moved to a new room this summer), set up for 2nd grade (to loop with my class from last year) and finally finished.   
All the book bins were labeled and put on the shelves.

I was ready for open house.  I'll leave you in suspense until the end 
about the big fat change of plans.

Welcome to my new 2nd grade classroom!

This is my family photo board.  
Since I had these students last year, I kept their family photos and hung them up for open house.

I use this board for anchor charts related to writer's workshop.

(My alphabet cards are from Marsha McGuire - A Differeniated Kindergarten.)

The bins on the top are for chapter book series. The bins on the shelves below are for single copies at each level.  This shelf has a "twin" with different level bins on it.
You can find my book bin labels here. I also use them on my word wall.

You can find my schedule cards here.

This is just a piece of fabric that I found that has a map on it. 
I hang it on the wall, so kids can refer to it and touch it throughout the year.

This is what my room looked like the day before open house. 
Then I received a phone call from one of the administrators in my district 
offering me a position as an Instructional Coach.







Luckily, I am flexible and good at packing.


As you can imagine, this kind of change of plans
 is a sensitive issue when you were planning to loop with a class. 
I'm not going to go into the details of how that went down.
Tears were shed by me, by many of the parents and again by me.
Parents talked to their children at home, 
but I will talk to them again on the first day of school next week.
I'll be teaching the class for two weeks until they hire another teacher.
I will be brave and keep things positive.
I am confident that the children will take the news just how I present a positive way.
Children cope better than an adults in so many ways.
And, I'll cry on the way home because I absolutely love these kids and all of their parents. 

As for the new job...
I truly am excited for this new adventure!
It is an incredible opportunity to learn and grow as an educator.
I couldn't pass it up...even though the timing is not great.

In my new job, I'll be partnering up with teachers to help them reflect on their teaching.
I'll be doing lots of reflecting on my own work as a coach as well.
In the spirit of reflecting, 
I'm going to start by trying really hard to participate in the 
30 Day Blogging Challenge for Teachers hosted by Teach Thought.

Day 1 - My Goals for the School Year
(and a few of the most important things for me to focus on in my new role)

I'll still be blogging here...since something has to stay the same in my life. Ha!
Funky First Grade Fun almost turned into Funky 2nd grade Fun at the beginning of the summer.
Thank goodness I didn't change the name then.
Funky Instructional Coaching just doesn't sound quite right. Funny though...

All this moving, setting up, packing up and moving again (to an office in our high school) business caused me to order another Stitch Fix. Ha! I seriously love Stitch Fix.  You can read about it here.

 Oh...and it caused me to return to my Dt. Dew habit
 after completing 3 weeks with no Dt. Dew cheats.  
Don't's my coffee.

Holy longest post ever... Happy Labor Day!

Michigan Teachers - Happy Back to School Eve!