Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Happy New Year!!!...Well, Almost.

To me, August is like New Year come early.  It's the time of year when I make resolutions to be a better, more precise teacher.  It's easy to get swept away in the power of Pinterest and Instagram photos, so I try to focus on THREE essential resolutions for the year.

I'll admit it-- this past year was not my very best.  I got married at a destination venue, my best friend got married a month after, AND the family decided to take a few side trips during the school year to Disneyland, Whistler, and Vegas! I lived from weekend social gathering to the next school break, not leaving a ton of extra time for me to explore and expand my practice.  That's just how some years go; I've accepted it.  But I vow to make this upcoming year even better!

I haven't decided which three resolutions I will take up this year, but one will certainly be to improve my organizational skills in terms of differentiating instruction.  I stumbled upon this awesome share of Miss DeCarbo's, and I can't wait to prep all my materials to fit! We use Nellie Edge's heart words so I'll have to alter her idea, but I am so excited about it!
Check her TpT Store out!

Miss DeCarbo's Sight Word differentiation is found here!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Read Well, Read Well!

Well, I'll be the first to admit that my reading groups did not hit their maximum potential this year.  I decided to spend some time pinning and reading up a little on some better, more invigorating ways to engage my kiddos this year! Thank GOODNESS Pinterest exists!

First, I needed a little refresher on Read Well since I've gotten a little sloppy in years.  Come to find out there were non-fiction booklets and an activity book that go with the curriculum that I have never seen in my life!
My goal is to search through my drawers and files for old laminated games we used to use during Walk to Read.  I have such a small group, there's really no reason not to split them into pairs or trios and work more intensively with them...but for that, I need independent work! 

All Students Can Shine has some great resources AND the perfect sequential order for these activities listed! Can't wait to run those off and keep them in a Walk to Read pull out! One Sharp Bunch also has some great RTI activities for those low kiddos.  I guess it all adds up, but usually our district offers some reimbursement for things like this, so I'll pay it forward this time.

Excited to re-vamp my teaching!!! Sometimes all it takes is some fresh new products and shiny new laminate!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Pangs of Retention in Kindergarten

There are twenty-five little bodies packed into my all-day Kindergarten classroom.  I have seen five years of typical 5-year-old growth, have much experience with ELLs, and feel confident that my low performing students receive ample interventions and support throughout the day.  That’s why, as I sit across from Miguel’s apprehensive mother, I feel strongly about recommending retention for her baby.

It’s only Kindergarten.
He’s still young.
He won’t even notice if he’s held back.
It’s March, and he can only recognize a handful of letters and numbers.
He struggles at every activity, and I can safely predict that he will continue to struggle
drastically in first grade.

I know full-well that communicating about retention to a Latino parent can be different than a Caucasian parent because traditionally, teachers are very respected in Latino culture.  Many Latino parents simply trust that the teacher knows what is best for their child, much like a doctor is trusted to know the correct prescription for an illness.  I take this very seriously and only make these recommendations when I am certain that retention is what is best for the child.

Mom listens, agrees, and we move forward to make a meeting with the Guidance Team, which consists of our school counselor, school psychologist, reading specialist, ELL specialist, math specialist, Special Education teacher, and principal.   
When we meet, I present my assessments and observations.  I describe all the interventions the child has received in September.  All the teachers who work with the child speak on his abilities at this time.  I agree with it all, ready to wrap things up, and then someone speaks out on the negative effects of retention.

And then we don’t retain.

This infuriates me.  I group together with other teachers and grumble about it.  I shake my head about how we are failing this child.  I glumly imagine how much harder this kid’s life is going to be because he has not mastered kindergarten skills. I have kids leaving my class reading books and this one tells me 12/26 letters on a good day.  

Then I go home, and I start to read the research.

Stay tuned for my post on CORElaborate March 20th to follow up on this topic.

How I Feel After Trimester 2 Assessments

I know this is an older video, but I have seen it a million times and it still cracks me up.  It's for real my life right now.
And that's ok.
Happy Sunday!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Lazy Mid-Winter Break

I am sitting here, barely awake, at 11:11 AM on a FRIDAY.  Where the heck did my week GO?! I never sleep in this much, and I certainly don't feel like it should be the end of the week.  I was given this amazing gift of one week away from children so I could get my thoughts together, catch up on teacher blogging, read some inspirational literature...

...instead I watched reruns of Modern Family, snuggled with my dog, and blogged about some pictures my friends and I took.  I mean, really. (But if you feel like enabling my lack of professionalism, you can check out my new personal blog here.)

With TWO major upcoming weddings (mine and my best friend's), this is really the last week I had to catch up on gifts, swim suit purchases, and any maid of honor duties.  Plus also, the key to not getting sick on the Big Day is rest and I'm going to go ahead and give myself a pass for being lazy this break.

HOWEVER, I write only to tell you to please check in this upcoming month! As we near our zoo field trip, I will be posting some cool zoo-themed lessons (which is great, since my classroom is a Jungle theme). most favorite of all favorite lessons is coming.......


Please stay tuned for some FABULOUS kindergarten fun!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Penguin Silly Reading!

If you're doing a penguin unit, I created these to help my kiddos practice reading those tricky sight words! They LOVE penguins so they have been super motivated to learn "this" and "here" sentences if we have penguins involved!

Click here for penguin Read and Draw homework and activities.  

4 pages of read and draw!!

Pierre the Penguin

This was such a fabulous read to end our penguin unit this week! It actually made me tear up the first time I read it...I just LOVE penguins! The kids loved the story and were very engaged. 

After the read aloud, we brainstormed some silly outfits we might choose to put Pierre in if we were allowed to! 
Here's the writing sheet if you want to try the activity! Took us about 45 minutes to read the book, discuss, model the writing, and do it. 

Writing Template for Pierre the penguin here!

"Pierre will wear a phone and backpack!!!!" 

We are true Washingtonians! 

Or, if you're still wishing December was here, "Pierre will wear an elf costume."