Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Common Core, Writing, Research, & Technology

Are you wondering how to incorporate technology as listed in the ELA Common Core State Standards?  Try Animoto.  Remember, in the early years, using digital media is with guidance and support.  Let your children take pictures of your research project along the way.  When you are finished, use Animoto to make a video of the learning that took place.  It's a great way to create a timeline of learning while using digital media.  Click HERE to learn more about Animoto.  You can use it from your computer or there is an app for it too.

Making an Avatar

Wow! That was a lot of fun to make. Actually, I made quite a few different ones just playing around. You can choose from animals, smiley faces, people, cartoon characters and many other choices. I wish my hair looked like hers:-) You can even choose holiday theme Avatars too. You can choose a talking heart for Valentines Day. I really think this would be a great way of getting our students' attention or a new way to review or even teach procedures. There are many ideas on how to use Voki in the classroom on their website. Click HERE to check out Voki.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Literacy Alive & The Common Core

Today's post is at the heart of my teaching.  I've been doing this in my classroom for over 12 years, and I would have to say it 's had the biggest impact for my students whether I was teaching kindergarten or 1st grade.  I called the whole process Literacy Alive because I highlight a student each day and do literacy activities around that student's name.  It is currently being used in many schools throughout the United States, and I present on it frequently.  I was working on a packet for Teachers Pay Teachers when another blogger Peace Love & Kindergarten wrote about how much it helped her students.  I guess that is called perfect timing.

Here are some pictures of my students and other classrooms that use this program.  If you want to get your students motivated to learn, this program integrates many of the Common Core State Standards for learning letters/sounds, phonological awareness, phonics, sight words, and concepts of space (spacing, punctuation, and capital letters). And it just takes 15 minutes a day.

Students sign the chart everyday using "Smelly Markers."
I model correct spacing of words, capital letters, stretching out sounds,  learning our letter sounds and sight words.
Depending on the age of the student, they get the chart ready to go.
We interview each other with our Questions of the Day.
We used a megaphone to ask our questions until we received a "real" class microphone.
We post our Questions of the Day on our Smart Board.  Before we had a Smart Board, we posted them on a chart in the room.
We do this activity in the morning as a twist to morning meeting.  Instead, we focus on individual students.  As the children are ready, they begin writing the "Happy Talk" for their friends.
We have 6 rounds of Questions.  A "round" is what it takes to highlight a student using the same questions.  When we finish, we start another round.  This chart is from a teacher who uses the program in her classroom.  She calls them Super Hero Leaders of the Day.  They wear superhero capes.  Some teachers call them Star Students.  Others call them Student of the Day.  
My students like to cheer for the Student of the Day at the end.  We make up motions that go with our cheer.  Enjoy this short clip of their cheering.

I just completed a teaching resource lesson guide to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  It is a year-long map for incorporating this program in your classroom along with some very cute whole class books to make with your students.

Click HERE to view this packet on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Also click HERE to get a FREE Cheer Book that complements this program.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

One Month Later We Remember

I started my blog in December of 2011.  My plan was to dedicate a week in December to celebrating my one year anniversary of starting a blog.  Instead, as a nation, we mourned the loss of many innocent children and their teachers in a senseless shooting that forever changed how we view our roles as early childhood teachers.  I was speechless, sitting in dismay at the unthinkable.  I couldn't even think of words that week to write in my blog, much less celebrate.  Actually, I went several weeks without posting because I couldn't find the right words that would sum up how I felt about all of the lives that were lost.

You see, as early childhood teachers, we are always the "protectors" of our young students.  We are constantly looking out for their well-being.  We are proactive in searching for areas that might be of concern to their safety.  We tend to scraped knees, bruised elbows, and broken hearts.  We are with them when they are sick, tired, and hungry.  We buy school supplies for our students.  We buy books for our students. We provide clothing, coats, and backpacks for our students who need them. We work diligently to ensure they have a safe, nurturing environment to thrive in both academically and socially. And we routinely practice all of the required drills and problem-solve what we would do if the unthinkable were to happen.  But truly we were innocent to what other teachers in middle schools, high schools, and universities across the United States have faced.  We were innocent.  On December 14, 2012, that innocence was taken away.  And I just wanted to say one month later, I still remember.  For every students' name that was read on the television and for every picture that was shown, I could name a student in my classroom who had similar qualities both physically and characteristically. Little girls whose favorite colors were pink and purple.  Little boys who loved sports and were enthusiastic about reading and learning.  Students who were natural born leaders. Young children who would greet me at the door every morning and light up the room and my heart with their smiles.

I was asked shortly afterwards to represent teachers in what we do to prepare for such an event on our local television station in Tulsa, OK.  The following is the interview that took place that day.  I really didn't know what I would say or how I would be able to talk about it.  It hit so close to home.  I was an early childhood teacher.  Our students are part of our extended family.  So I brought a piece of my classroom with me.  It is a quilt that was made for me last year by a former parent.  She made me a quilt with an individual square for each child telling what they loved about their teacher.  And for the month of December, I wrapped this blanket around me many times when I sat on the couch. It now stays on my couch. I always planned on hanging it in my teaching office, but never got around to it.  I wanted it to stay beautiful and perfect.  Those plans changed that week. So I clung to my quilt and ask the same questions that everyone else was asking.  Why did this have to happen?  Why were these beautiful children and their teachers lives taken so early?  So one month later, I just wanted to write, "I still remember those beautiful faces and names. I always will.  I will never forget."

Friday, January 4, 2013

Common Core Math Trains 5 & 10

Hi, my name is Kathy Griffin and I am an information hoarder. WHEW!!! Now that it is out, I have decided my New Year's resolution (besides the typical lose weight) will be to start organizing all of my files, templates, games, pictures, newsletters, etc.  I never delete any of my files, and I have taught 15 years.  And with each new computer, I always back everything up and keep saving.  I even have backups of backups.  The good news is that I am going to start sharing as I organize all of the files.  What better way to motivate me than by giving it to you:)

This activity is fun for the students and easy to create for teachers, which is a win-win situation for everyone. I keep my math games in white dish tubs and place the papers, manipulatives, and directions in the tub.  The students have everything they need in one place.  I usually put this game at a table that accommodates 4 (for kindergarten) and 6 (for 1st grade).  I put only the amount of dice needed in the tub.  This helps keep them accountable for the dice.  If someone doesn't put one back, then there is not enough the next time.  TEACHABLE MOMENT!  That's when we talk about appropriate consequences for taking care of our materials.  They get very good at picking up things on the floor when they drop them as they learn that their teacher is not going to replace it.  When we find things on the floor after centers, we put them into a bucket of our "missing manipulatives."  I randomly pick a day when our bucket starts to get full to start adding back to our games.  Works every time!
Click HERE to download these forms.
And the good news is this game correlates with the following Common Core standards for kindergarten.  First grade students need multiple practice with these numbers in building up to the Common Core standards of addition and subtraction within numbers to 20.

  • Common Core for Kindergarten Operations & Algebraic Thinking
  • Understanding Addition and Subtraction
  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.2 Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g., by using objects or drawings to represent the problem.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.3 Decompose numbers less than or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each decomposition by a drawing or equation (e.g., 5 = 2 + 3 and 5 = 4 + 1).
  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.4 For any number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record the answer with a drawing or equation.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.5 Fluently add and subtract within 5.
Have fun working with your students on combinations of 5 & 10. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Guided Reading Organization Forms

It's time for New Year's Resolutions.  Who wants to be more organized this year? ME!!! I made this form for my guided reading books.  I always have my notes in my lesson plans, but they are usually out of reach when I need them.  I wanted a quick way to look at the different skills covered in a book.  There are 4 forms on each page.  Cut out the forms and fill in the information about the book.  I put a rubber band around the sheet and my books.  When I pull my books for students the information is ready to go.  I write in the title of the book along with the reading level.  I then list different skills that can be covered from the book in the areas of  PA (Phonemic Awareness/Phonological Awareness), Phonics, Sight Words, Reading Strategies, Comprehension.  I also have a place to put comments.  Now when I pull my books I have a "ready to use" form that saves me time scanning through lesson plans.

Here is what it looks like when it is finished.  This makes it easy for a substitute teacher or teacher's assistant (we can dream:-) to use.

Here is another form that comes in handy for tracking my students growth in letter/sounds, phonemic awareness, and phonics skills.  Copy both sheets back to back and cut on the black lines,  It will make four separate two-sided forms.  Hole punch in the top corner and store them in mini-pocket folders.  Secure them with a ring holder. When I am working with a student and I notice they have mastered a skill, I mark it off on the mini-sheet.  They are small, portable, and easy to move to other groups, as children progress through the different skills. 

 Click HERE to download these forms.

Mini-Pocket Folders - I always have these laying around my classroom and home.  Finally found another use for them:-)
Thanks for stopping by!  Happy New Year!