Monday, September 7, 2015

Sunday (Monday) Pass Along! Fluency, Math, and More!

I keep thinking it's Sunday. But nope, it's MONDAY thanks to a glorious three-day weekend. It comes just in time after two solid weeks of the back-to-school frenzy. I love how each year brings unique kiddos and challenges and is so different from the last. There is never a boring day!

Now that I am semi-caught up, I have some time to lounge in my jammies and read my blogs!

One of the beauties of having this little ol' blog of mine means that I can pass along awesome blog posts straight to you and you get all the goods! I'm hoping to keep this little tradition of the Sunday Pass Along going (even though today is technically Monday).

Here are some awesome posts I found while browsing my feed that are usable for me tomorrow!!

Parent Brochure from The Thinker Builder

This post from Michael at The Thinker Builder is fantastic. Well-written and comes complete with a free downloadable brochure for parents! I love his language and how relatable he is. You will definitely want to check this out! I will be handing these out to parents as I meet with them individually.

The Reading Strategies Book 

This is seriously the most amazing find ever. EVER! I was eventually going to do a post on this book, but luckily Megan at I Teach, What's Your Superpower already did! This post gives you a peek inside the book and outlines why it is just so amazing. This year I have students on levels C-M. This book is perfect for me because I have concrete strategies to use with each and every one of them. Megan does a great job of explaining everything this great book has to offer. Get your Amazon account open!

Intervention Folder Idea

I love, love, love Cara's (First Grade Parade) idea for keeping track of the concepts students need to work on. It's visual, easy to manage, and you can see everything at a glance. When you click on the post, it's tip #2. As soon as I've had my second cup of coffee, I'll be heading to my room to make one for myself! Click on this post to read more of her sanity-saving tips!

Partner Plays for Fluency

My group this year is going to need LOTS of fluency practice. I mean, LOTS! I've been looking for fun and interesting way to practice fluency and these partner plays from Christina at Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge are going to be perfect! I love my Partner Scripts from Lakeshore, but they are actually a little too challenging for my students this year. These partner scripts are perfect because they have a nice balance of text and engaging topics. Plus, she has them on sale right now!

Amazing Race Number Decomposition 

Greg at Mr. Elementary Math offers some amazing and fun number sense routines as well as a free download for decomposing numbers. There is space for a number at the top and then circles underneath for students to record each way they can decompose the number. He offers two versions- one with more circles and one with a smaller number of circles so you can differentiate as needed. This is exactly what I need this week as we work with decomposing numbers! He also offers a bonus freebie in the post, so be sure to read the whole thing to get that goodie!

I hope you were able to find something useful and maybe even a new blogger to follow. I'm going to enjoy the rest of this lazy three-day weekend and prepare myself for another awesome week!

I'll be back tomorrow to share some place value resources with you so be sure to check back then!

Happy Sunday! Monday!

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Camping Stool for the Classroom... Genius!

Imagine the following scenario:

It's independent reading time. I'm walking around the classroom, clipboard in hand, ready to listen in and confer with students as they read. The classroom is peaceful, students are reading quietly, soft music plays in the background. As I try to quietly grab a chair from the back of the room to sit next to little Johnny at his desk, I somehow manage to bang all four chair legs against the legs of both the desk where the extra chair came from as well as his desk and then continue to hit every stray object in my path with my chair as well.

So much for the peaceful atmosphere.

I then try standing. Of course, today is the day I decided to wear my long chain necklace, so as soon as I lean in to talk with Johnny, my necklace makes direct contact with his face.

So I kneel.

Of course today is also the day I wore shoes with the cute rhinestone flower applique on them. So now, not only are my knees creaking and soaking up who knows what from the carpet, the longer I kneel, the more I feel my cute rhinestone flower loosen itself from its threads. My clipboard is awkwardly filling the small space between Johnny and I and eventually I'm so uncomfortable that I give up and have to walk away, my rhinestone flower flopping along with me.

Enter: The camping stool!

Jennifer Serravalo shared this little tip in her book Teaching Reading in Small Groups and I am happy to report that I am no longer a victim of ruined shoes and clanging chairs!

This little baby lets me sit snugly up to one student or a group of students, even in small spaces, and use my lap to rest my clipboard. It's seriously genius!!! You can see the scale of it in the picture above. It folds up and is super light so I can easily carry it and my clipboard around without a problem. I am absolutely in love!

I ordered this one on Amazon. It might be one of my favorite purchases ever. Best of all, it was only $12! I'm a prime member, but still, $17 for a little peace, quiet, and functionality is worth it.

If you suffer from noisy chair syndrome like me, or enjoy wearing long necklaces, this camping stool might just be exactly what you need!!

Have a great Friday!

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Teacher Fail Turned Victory... Sort Of!

I just have to share this funny story from today!

In May, I was lucky enough to visit the Ron Clark Academy and see the amazing Hope King in person. She taught a great session about games in the classroom and explained how she uses a game called Headbands. I just have to post the picture my friend and I took with her again. I was in complete teacher heaven!

The game is based on the popular board game, Headbandz. Hope adapted it to be used with vocabulary words and when I first heard her explain it, I had one of those, "Why didn't I ever think of that?" moments. Each small group had a large stack of index cards with vocabulary words written on them and one person would wear a headband. That person would load their headband with one vocabulary word at a time by putting the card in their band with the word facing the rest of the group. The other group members worked together to give clues so that headband wearer could guess the word they were showing. Hope set the timer for one minute and we tried to get our headband wearer to guess as many words as possible within that minute. It was a blast! I was so excited to try the "Headbands" game and but never had a chance at the end of the year last year.

Fast forward to this morning. I had the great idea to use the headband format but infuse it with Quiz-Quiz-Trade, one of my absolute favorite Kagan activities that we do each and every day. So I walk around and pass out one card to each student and explain how it will work. I tell them that they will put their word in their headband facing out and then they will stand up-hand up-pair up like normal, but instead of quizzing their partner with a question card, they will listen to their partner give them clues so that they can guess the word they have in their band. They won't trade cards like normal, but just leave their card in their headband and find a new partner. And I'm excited y'all. Like too excited. I've been waiting all summer to do this activity and I was pumped.

So, the kids put their one word in their headband and get with a partner. Then it hits me. Once they have guessed their word, they know what's on their card. And they know their partner's word, so they can't trade cards because the whole point is that you don't know what is on your card. I didn't give them any other words. Duh!!! The whole point of Quiz-Quiz-Trade is that it is a continuous process, where kids meet with multiple partners. So essentially, the whole essence of the Headbands idea was lost! I just had to laugh. I was so embarrassed!

After they figured out their words with their first partners, I had to quickly change my directions. The only thing I could come up with at that moment was that since they already knew their word, their new partners would have to give the definition of the word, which is just like what we do with a normal quiz-quiz-trade card anyway! However, it did turn out better than I expected. The kids still got good practice with our vocabulary words and used more language in the process because our normal cards typically provide the sentence frame or stem. It was just so stinkin' cute to see them walking around with those words on their heads, though! Check them out!

Reflecting back now, I could have had the kids go ahead and trade cards with their partner so at least they had a different word in their headband. Next time, though, I think I will give the kids a stack of at least five or six words so they can carry the words with them and switch their cards out after they meet with each partner. I'm sure there are more ways to make this work, but it was just so funny in the moment!

You live and learn!!!

Happy Wednesday!

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