Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Dance Party!

If there is one thing I love, it's dancing! I also love to sing, and my students and I love to sing and dance whenever possible! In fact, my colleagues joke about how they can hear us rockin' and rollin' through the hallway. They also joke about how Randy might need to tell me that I'm a bit pitchy at times...lol! One thing I love about teaching kindergarten is that I can just let go and belt it out, and the kids don't mind a bit how it sounds!

This week, I have been reading Ron Clark's latest book, "The End of Molasses Classes." It's so inspiring! My head is spinning with new ideas, and my heart is soaring with hope for this upcoming school year! After reading about the songs Ron Clark's class wrote several years ago about the election (and watching them on YouTube, of course), my creative juices were flowing! We love to sing, and I always seek out academic songs already written by HarryKindergarten, Dr. Jean, Hap Palmer and other musicians. However, I started wondering if I could write my own lyrics...

The first order of business was to think of a song my students love. Duh....Justin Bieber! After choosing his song "Baby" (that I may or may not also love!), I had to choose an academic skill. According to the Common Core, kindergarten students are expected to fluently add and subtract numbers with sums and differences up to five. I thought that would be a pretty good skill! Once I had the song and skill, I started writing; and I don't think it turned out too bad! I was able to cover addition fact families up to 4 with sums of 9 or 10.
I was also able to find a karaoke version of the song on iTunes, which I purchased! It's going to take me a while to get the song down, but we will be jamming when I do! All that's left is to choreograph some dance moves....hmmmm. :)

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a wonderful Friday, and don't forget to leave some comments!!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

DonorsChoose Giveaway!!!


Okay, I know I'm breaking the rules of blogging by posting twice in one day, but I think you'll agree that I have a good reason to do so! Jennifer over at Herding Kats in Kindergarten is having a DonorsChoose giveaway!!!!! Have I ever told you how much I LOVE DonorsChoose? Okay, okay. I know you're all probably sick of me crowing about it constantly, but it has seriously changed my life and the lives of my students! If you love DonorsChoose too, which I sincerely hope you do, head on over and enter yourself for the giveaway! Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Big Book Station

Now, our Big Book Station is pretty straight forward as you might imagine! It consists of an big book easel, a tall laundry basket to hold the books, a Common Core "I can" statement, writing paper with pencils and crayons, and big books. Yep, you guessed it! Our big books WERE purchased by those lovely donors of DonorsChoose.org!! It's like I said....DonorsChoose is THE BOMB!!

Before the students visit the big book station, we spend LOTS of time reading and rereading the big books as a class. Even in the whole group setting, I will call students up to point to the words as we chorally read them aloud. When the students visit, they choose a book and take turns reading it and pointing to the words with their partner. This station helps increase reading fluency and comprehension.
To add another element of choice to the station, I included clip boards with paper, pencils, and crayons. The students have the opportunity to write a response to the stories they read. Many of the students will choose to do this, especially during the third and fourth nine-weeks. I also print the sentence, "I like the part when ______________." on sentence strips and place them at the station. Students with language differences or with special needs can use this support to help them write about their opinion. The students that need the support use the sentence strips, and the students that do not need the support use their own inventive spelling.

The students feel so proud that they are able to read these books, and they love visiting this station! Thanks for stopping by for a peek into our happy, little classroom!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Classroom Library Station

Next, I'd like to show you our classroom library station or as my students call it the "book corner." As you can see, there are baskets of books. They are sorted into categories. The book baskets have labels that correspond with stickers attached to the back cover of the books. This station also contains our Common Core "I can" statement, a cushy rug, and comfy bean bag chairs (again, donated by DonorsChoose.org!!). Wait, I forgot one of the best parts! I put an old CD player in the book corner with some classical music on CD's. I placed a green sticker on the play button to signify "go" and a red sticker on the stop button to signify "stop." After choosing the CD and setting the volume, I teach the students how to start and stop the music. This provides a relaxing atmosphere in our classroom library to read and look at books!
My students absolutely love relaxing in this station! If they begin feeling stressed during the day, they will ask if they can go to the "book corner" and relax a while. The fun's not over.....more photos coming tomorrow!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Poetry Station

Another one of my students' most favorite station is the poetry station! Our poetry station is at our SMARTBoard. For this station, I made pages of familiar poems and songs on SMARTNotebook. I used some free clip art from the internet to help students recognize words they may not be able to decode. Then, we would practice one poem a week. After the students became fairly fluent with it, I would add that page to the poem file. While at the station, students would turn the pages in the file to select a poem and take turns pointing to the words while reading it. I also provided a ring of cards containing our sight words. The students were also able to flip through the cards and use one of the SMARTBoard pens to circle our sight words in the poems.
At the end of the week, I would print the poem from SMARTNotebook and put it in the students' poetry folders. The students would take their poetry folders home over the weekend and practice reading the poems from the year to their families and friends! This station with its home link was wonderful in helping the students develop fluency! And the best part is how much they loved it!

There's still more to come! Visit again tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

iPad Station

Another station my students enjoy is the iPad station! We were able to obtain an iPad for our classroom with a grant through the University of Mount Union. After we were able to see the benefits of iPads in the classroom, the district was able to purchase a few more for our building. As you can see, I still only use one iPad for the station. That is intentional. I found a splitter at the Dollar Tree that allowed me to plug in two headphones. Working as a pair on one iPad provides invaluable opportunities for the students to work together and problem solve. They also must communicate with one another as they work.

We have found a lot of great apps! Many are free or very inexpensive. I really like apps by PocketPhonics, Grasshopper, Rantek Inc., and McGraw-Hill School Education Group! Stay tuned for more work stations tomorrow!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Writing Station

Another station my students visit daily in pairs is our writing station. The beautiful desk that is perfect for two is from Lakeshore Learning; and yes, it was also donated by DonorsChoose.org! At our writing station I have placed a variety of writing tools, a variety of paper and blank books, and various picture dictionaries. I've also created a book with a photo of each student in our class with her/his name below so the students can reference it to write each other letters while at the writing station. The students have free choice about what they write, but we discuss as a class the importance of practicing our writing here rather than our drawing. If the students get off-task and are spending more time on their illustrations, I will simply ask them, "Is your writing or your drawing getting better right now?" It reminds them that if they want their writing to improve, they must practice it.

Unfortunately, the physical environment of our classroom does not allow us to have the writing station below our word wall. For that reason, I put seasonal and anchor charts above the writing station for the students to reference. I change them based on the needs and interests of my students. You may also be able to see that the bulletin board above the writing station is covered with fabric. I only use fabric on my bulletin boards, and it is a tip I was given by one of my cooperating teachers in college. Fabric doesn't fade, and it gives the bulletin board a very fresh, clean look!

We're not through yet! Stop by tomorrow to find out about another work station from our classroom!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Day in the Life of Miss Jones' Class: Listening Station

This week, I want to show you a little sneak peek into my classroom and a day in the life of Miss Jones' class. Each day, my kindergarten students visit work stations. Each student has a partner, and they visit the stations in pairs. Our listening station consists of a box with a picture representing the listening station, several books, and two iPod Nanos with headphones. (Of course, the iPod Nanos and the headphones were donated from those generous folks at DonorsChoose.org!! <3) The station is mobile, and the students just take the box to an available table in the classroom. The students choose a book and listen to the read-aloud while following along.

When the station is introduced, I show the students how to use their finger to move around the circle to search for the track and give them lots of time to practice. I have taken a photo of each book and attached it to the read-aloud tracks on iTunes. This makes it extremely easy for my young students to match their book of choice with the photo on the iPod Nano. Below is a screen cast to show you how to attach your own photo ("artwork") to a track on iTunes. Hope you find it useful!
video

I hope you enjoyed your glimpse into our classroom! Stop back by tomorrow to see another work station we enjoy using!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

To the Victor Go the Spoils

I definitely feel like the victor today with the haul I came away with after a shopping trip spree with two wonderful friends! We began our day at Starbucks because we had to fuel up, and -BONUS- they have wifi! :) Here is a photo of Jessica from Mrs. Stanford's Class, Brittany from Keeping Up with First Grade, and me!
After a venti iced skinny caramel macchiato (say that five times fast!) we were ready to head out on our shopping trip. We went to Lakeshore Learning first! They were having a 20% off sale, and they have EVERYTHING you could ever want or need! I picked up some Dr. Seuss items to go with my theme for this year.


I also picked up a set of cards for a bulletin board I like to display at the beginning of the year that show how to say "hello" in different languages. I enjoy teaching English Language Learners in my classroom along with native English speakers, and I like to incorporate my students' different cultures.
These cards include 25 different languages. On each card is a picture of a child representing the culture. The BEST PART is that the word "hello" is written with the actual characters of each language! I love them!
I hit the bargain bin at Lakeshore Learning and found these "Star of the Week" headbands on clearance! I have a "Star of the Week" bulletin board where I display a poster the students (chosen alphabetically) have decorated with facts about themselves. This year, they will get to wear these headbands as well!
As a reward for all my purchases, Lakeshore Learning gave me this free Teacher's Plan Book. It is awesome and has tons of resources inside beyond the aesthetic, well-organized planning pages! Who doesn't love a "free" gift!?!

We also dropped by Michael's where I picked up this *SPARKLY* card stock in different colors. (I can't even handle it!!) Do you remember my dilemma about wanting to implement the clip-chart behavior plan but being instructed to stick with the school-wide behavior plan for now? Well, this *SPARKLY* card stock is going to be part of the "loop hole" solution I promised I would find! Stay tuned to see how these are transformed!!
In the words of one of my students," VICTORY IS MINE!!!!" Phew....what a great day! I'll be back soon with some pics from my classroom!

Friday, July 13, 2012

It Was an Honor Just to Be Nominated!

Okay ya'll, I'm so honored to have been nominated for 2 awards!!

I would like to give a special, special thanks to Patti from Primary Pizzazz!!
 Primary Pizzazz

Here are the rules for the awards below:

The rules for The Versatile Blogger award are as follows:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

2. Include a link to their site.

3. Include the award image in your post.

4. Give 7 random facts about yourself

5. Nominate 15 other bloggers, include their link and let them know

Soooo....I guess it's time to share 7 random facts about myself. Here it goes...

1. I LOVE coffee!!!

2. I am a 2007 graduate of Mount Union College & a die-hard Purple Raider.

3. I recently earned a license to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Cincinnati.

4. I can (could) speak Spanish (sort of) fluently.

5. This will be my 6th year of teaching.

6. I have taught all 6 years in kindergarten.

7. I LOVE my students and work everyday to make their lives a little brighter!


Next, I believe I should hand out my nominations for these two awards!

Greg

Smedley’s Smorgasboard of Kindergarten


Teresa

2nd Grade Pig Pen


Stephanie
Falling into First


Heather
Heather's heart


Maria


Mrs. Dwyer
Mrs. Dwyer's A+ Firsties


Mrs. H
What Wonderous Love


Diving into Learning


Tammy




Miss Schinke


Heather
Teaching Through Turbulence


Elizabeth
Mrs. Polston's Kindergarten


Liz


Pam
Can Do Kinders

Once again, thank you Patti for this nomination! I am off to tell my nominees the good news! Have a great Friday!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Under the Boardwalk, Down by the Sea...

I have been sort of absent around here the past couple of days, and it is because I am enjoying a vacation with family. My family has been going to the Maryland shore for about 15 years, and it definitely feels like home when I'm here. It might be part of my destiny to live on the ocean someday, or maybe just a beach house will do. I love swimming in the ocean and riding the waves! I also enjoy walking in the morning as the sun rises over the ocean. Here is a photo from this morning's walk.
It was quite hazy and humid this morning, but the temperature cooled down throughout the day. While I feel good about starting the day with a brisk 3 mile walk, I am embarrassed to say that I also stopped to pick up the best donuts in the world from the Fractured Prune. I got my favorite, carnival with honey and "jimmies," and it was delicious by the way!!
I just feel so at home by the ocean and overwhelmed by the beauty of God's creation. A storm rolled in over the beach tonight. It is just another reminder of how small we are in this great big world. Even when our problems seem too large to solve, we can remember the one that tells the sun when to shine and the ocean how far it can go. Our God is greater than all our problems. Like I said, I love it here!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I'm So Excited, and I Just Can't Hide It!

I am on top of the world today, and it's not just because of the great time I had celebrating with friends yesterday. (I hope you all did too!) One of my DonorsChoose projects was funded today!!!!! As soon as school begins again, my students will be receiving an iPod Touch for the classroom! The students will use the iPod Touch independently alongside our classroom iPad. However, the best thing about the iPod Touch is that it will be able to pair with one of my favorite materials previously obtained through DonorsChoose. The Bose Soundlink Wireless Mobile Speaker will pair with our new iPod Touch through bluetooth.
Now, all of our favorite tunes will be accessible with a single touch, and the iPod Touch will act like a remote. We will even be able to listen to our favorite artists (mostly the Biebs) through apps like Pandora or iHeartRadio. I am so excited, and I can't wait to share it with my students!!

Feel free to check out my project that was just funded! Just click here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A is for Aromatherapy

I know all of you are just like me! You spend all summer (because it's the only time we have to really plan ahead) imagining how you are going to make your classroom--and upcoming school year--perfect. You re-map your classroom for the one millionth time to make sure you are maximizing learning spaces and have achieved a perfect zen. Zen is very important to me as I like to create a safe little world inside my classroom where students can be free to try new things and make mistakes, all the while feeling comfortable and secure. I go to great lengths to achieve this...classical music, cohesive color schemes, visual stimulation without clutter, etc. In the past, I have also used plug-in air fresheners to help create my cozy atmosphere, but I recently had a pair of epiphanies that are causing me to change my ways.

The first epiphany came in a very strange way. I began practicing yoga this year and found it necessary....or a good excuse to....purchase a fashionable yoga mat (with accessories) of my own. Upon receiving my beautiful (and expensive) yoga mat, I found that it was quite slippery. After almost falling on my head a few times, I realized I needed a quick solution to my problem. Sooo...I looked to the only reliable place for information--the internet. Anyway, many of the articles I read recommended using essential oils to clean the mat and make it sticky again. The articles also bragged that these oils would also trigger reactions in the brain that might help relaxation. I went straight to the health food store and picked up the oils. I found that I really enjoyed the aroma. While I am highly susceptible to the placebo effect, I really thought I could notice a change in ability to focus and relax. That's when I thought: I SHOULD USE ESSENTIAL OILS IN THE CLASSROOM!!

The second epiphany was when I remembered a technique of Mrs. Stanford's from
MrsStanfordsClass.
Since my school year ended before Memorial Day, I was excited to have the opportunity to volunteer in my best college friend's classroom before school let out for her students. As the children in her class were working, she walked around with a can of air freshener and told the students to notice the "Smart Spray." The students responded with a deep sniff and, "It's working Mrs. Stanford. I can feel it. Yep, I'm smarter now." GENIUS!! My psychology-minded friend had played a brain trick on her students, and I couldn't understand why I hadn't tried it before! I made a mental note to try this technique in my classroom. As I stood in the health food store overstimulated with essential oils, that memory came flooding back to me! I thought: I SHOULD USE ESSENTIAL OILS AS SMART SPRAY!!

I, of course, went back to the infinite source of information and "googled" aromatherapy in classrooms. I found many, many articles. The following article contains the results of a fairly recent study titled, Aromatherapy in the Classroom. It also explains the oil combination used and their effects. I plan to use aromatherapy this school year, and I can't wait to try it!

....as for my expensive, slippery yoga mat, the essential oils did not help make it more sticky. The real solution turned out to be a $10 yoga mat from Target layered on top of it. Bazinga.