Saturday, October 26, 2013

Five For Friday Anchor Charts, Guided Math, and a Freebie

Happy Saturday!

Now that October is almost over, it finally feels like fall.  I have started needing to wear gloves on my walk to school, so my hands don't freeze off.  I'm not complaining though because the clear air is so refreshing, the leaves are gorgeous, and the sunsets have been amazing lately.

Although, I am late to the party, I am so happy to finally have time to link up with Doodle Bugs again for 5 for Friday.  This is the first Saturday in months that I do not have plans.  Well, let me revise that. I do have tons of plans to get various chores and errands done, but I do not have social plans.  The most social thing I plan to do is to dance with my mop as I clean my kitchen.  Hehehe.

Anyways, on the fun...


Class Dojo

This week, I was feeling like I needed to begin keeping better anecdotal notes about my students' behavior, so I began browsing Pinterest and other educational sites for a good form to use.  Although there are some good ones out there, nothing jumped out at me.  What's more, I just felt like I would not have had the time to fill out a form with much consistency.  So, what did I do?  

I turned to the app store of course!

I figured that someone out there had created something useful for keeping track of student behavior.  Thankfully, I was right.  My search resulted in the discovery of one of the COOLEST apps ever...Class Dojo!!!  

Class Dojo is a behavior managment app that allows you to track your students' positive and negative behaviors with the touch of a button.  You input your students' names and then the app turns them into super cute monster characters.  Then, all you have to do is open the app, click on the name of one or more students and then click on the positive or negative behavior being displayed.  The app gives green +1s for positive behavior and red -1s for negative behavior.  Then, it calculates the percentage of good vs. bad behavior for each student and the whole class!  How crazy awesome is that?

The icing on the cake is that you can even add your own positive and negative behavior descriptions, so if your class has a specific issue, you can keep track of that instead of just relying on the provided list of behaviors.

Basically, I am in love with this app.  I was not told to share it with you or to promote it any way.  I just can't keep it a secret cause it's that awesome!  Click the picture at the top of this section to check out the Class Dojo website.
Small Moments

We kicked off our Small Moments writing unit this week.  Because students have trouble understanding what a small moment is, I dig some PinResearch and found some great anchor chart ideas to help introduce the concept.

This chart was inspired by two charts; one from Colleen over at Totally Terrific in Texas and the other from Jade Morgan.

Small moments

I used my chart to introduce students to the idea of a big story being a watermelon and a small moment story being a seed.  I read, A Chair for My Mother to the class and modeled how to identify the small moment seeds inside the big story.  Once the students caught on, they helped me pick them out.  We wrote the seed moments on sticky notes and stuck them to the watermelon seeds.

The next day, I read Owl Moon and we talked about how Jane Yolen stretched a small moment into an entire story.

After that, we began brainstorming small moment ideas using Susan Jones's adorable and awesome Personal Narrative pack.

Then, we worked on narrowing down ideas from watermelons to slices to seeds.  Again, I had the students practice as a whole class using the anchor chart before releasing them to do their own Watermelon, Slice, Seed graphic organizers.  


Next week, the students will use the next pages in Susan's pack to brainstorm details and to draw out the sequence of their small moments.  Then, it will finally be time for them to write!  Hurray!


The kiddos began learning about nouns this week.  They loved going on a noun scavenger hunt.  I found a great one and some other awesome and FREE noun activities from Mrs. Lemons at Step Into Second Grade.

Properties of Objects
Original Pin from KC Kindergarten Times

In science, it was time to start learning about Properties of Objects, so we did a lot of activities with pattern blocks, sorted buttons, and wrote Wanted Posters for criminal stuffed animals.  The kids LOVED that last activity.  They each brought in a small stuffed animal, not knowing what they were going to use it for.  Then, on the day of the activity, I started talking in a crazy, western/southern accent.  I told all the kids that they were sheriffs and there were bandits on the loose!  Their stuffed animals had committed some serious crimes and needed to be caught and locked up for good!  Everyone squealed with laughter at this point.
Then, I modeled how to fill out the Wanted Poster and sent the kids off to work on theirs.  All of them were super creative coming up with criminal names and crazy crimes.  I wish I had remembered to take pictures of the bulletin board where I posted all of the finished signs.  I will try to remember to take one next week.

Anyways, here's a freebie for you.  Click the picture to download it.

Guided Math Launch

Last, but certainly not least for this busy week, I decided to jump off the diving board into the pool of Guided Math.  I have always loved the idea of guided math for the sake of differentiation and management etc.  However, as a single classroom teacher, I felt overwhelmed by the thought of organizing it all on my own.  This year though I realized I needed to go for it.  The way I was running math was not working super well and I felt like it was time to take a step to do something different.  Therefore, after doing some serious blog and Pinterest research, I decided to launch my own version of Guided Math.

My plan is to make it run similarly to the Daily 5, since that is working super well so far.  To start of, we will have a whole class mini-lesson to introduce/review concepts.  Then, three groups will rotate through the following stations: Math with Self, Math with Someone, and Math with Teacher.  During Math with Self, students will either use technology to practice math or they will be doing some kind of personal game or practice sheet.  For Math with Someone, they will play games with math partners.  Math with Teacher will be when they do their workbook pages, so I can monitor their progress and then provide remediation, extra practice, or enrichment games and activities as necessary.

So far, I have a really good feeling about how this will work.  Though we have just begun, students are already catching on to the routines because they are so used to the procedures of Read to Self and Read to Someone.  I hope things continue to go well as we really begin using the whole rotation next week.

Wow, that was a bigger post than I expected.  It was a big week though with lots of good learning moments.  I was glad to have time to share it with you.

One more quick thing before I go.  Starting today, Educents has a great deal on a ton of clipart.  The total value of the pack is $119.75, but it's available now for only $29.99!  Wow!

With that, I'm peacing out to go take a walk in the cool, but beautiful fall weather.  Have a great day everyone!

Friday, October 11, 2013

5 For Friday October 11 and a Character Freebie

Long time no blog.

I am sad that I have not had the chance to post anything recently.  I have just been way to busy too sit down to type up a post.  Plus, school has been all about assessments lately, so I have not done anything worth sharing.

Since I am off today for a Personal Day for one of my best friend's weddings, I figured I should sit down and at least try to scrounge together a 5 for Friday.


Compassion @ Hillsong Conference

Last weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer for Compassion at the Hillsong United Conference in New York City.  I worked the table from 5:00-10:00 p.m. and was overwhelmed with excitement as tons and tons of people came up to sponsor children.  Over the course of the 2 day conference, 318 children got sponsored!!  How awesome is that?

The icing on the cake at the end of the night was that I got to meet Ben Fielding from Hillsong.  He co-wrote "Mighty to Save" and many other popular worship songs.


I wrapped up the DRA this week and moved on to phonics assessments.  The results are that I have a very spread out class.  I definitely have some super slow sweeties that will need a lot of extra help, but I also have a handful of kiddos that are reading on second grade reading levels.  Yikes!  

I am really looking forward to starting reading groups, so I can differentiate and help all my firsties progress.

First Observation

Yesterday was my first observation with my principal.  I taught at Math in Focus lesson on using number bonds to add.  The objective was for the students to be able to write addition sentences and understand that addition is part + part = whole.  Though most of the kids seemed to grasp the concepts; however, I felt like my management was not the best.  Despite having all my manipulatives prepared, carpet space got tight and things got a bit out of control.  I look forward to hearing how I can improve in these and other areas when I have my post-observation meeting next week.  Also, I am just glad to have one observation done.  Only 2 more to go!


T-A-G your writing partner

This week I finally assigned writing partners, so that students can begin working together to improve their stories.  I was excited to introduce students to the TAG way of working with partners to help guide their conversations.  I found this great idea on Pinterest and created my own chart, but forgot to take a picture.  

Character Drawing

For the past two weeks, while I have been DRAing, I have been slowly introducing students to the narrative elements.  First, we talked about beginning, middle, and end and problem, events, solution.  Then, we explored setting.  Finally, we talked about characters.  I started the lesson on characters by telling the students a "story" with no characters.  They were all super confused and thought my story was terrible.  I told them that I agreed with them and explained that my story was not good because it had no characters.  

After that, we briefly defined characters and talked about some examples from our read alouds.  For independent practice, the students read and then drew a picture and wrote some words to describe a character.  Click the picture for a freebie.

Now, it's bittersweet to say that it is time for the last edition of my India journal.  It has been a blessing to share my experiences and God's work with you over the past few months, but the end has arrived.  I hope you enjoy!

Left My Heart In Hyderabad

Day Twelve: Bangle Street, Big Bazaar, and Sarah’s College Girls
        The team got a late start today with breakfast scheduled for 9:00.  Of course, we didn’t eat until 9:30.  After eating, we enjoyed chai for the last time. 
          We left the hotel at 11:30 and drove to Bangle Street.  Bangle Street is just what its name suggests: a street full of bangle shops.  It sits near the huge Charminar gate to the city and it is part of a bustling area of shops and street vendors.  Everywhere I looked there were colorful bangles, bright fruits and veggies, cones of henna etc. all contrasted by the black robes and veils of the Muslims.

          Mary and Percy led us to a shop and then became our bargaining warriors.  Since all the shopkeepers jacked up their prices the moment they saw white skin, they ended up going to different shops, bargaining down the price, and then coming back to get us to pay.  While we stood around waiting, a beggar woman came up and touched us all, trying to get money.  That was hard to handle.  On one hand, I wanted to help her, but on the other, I know that giving her money is not the answer and probably would not help her at all in the long run.  Plus, it would have created chaos.  Tough to figure out what Jesus would do in these situations.
          When it was time to leave, we filed out holding on to each other’s’ shoulders as we navigated through traffic.  Back on the bus, we drove to Dominoes.  I had a tasty chicken Alfredo and split a Butterscotch Mousse cake with W.  As we ate, we listened to Mary tell us about the corrupt education system in India involving teachers who only show up two days a week, expensive fees etc.  As a teacher, it’s so sad to hear about such a broken system.  It also made me discouraged because in India only certain careers are considered respectable and worthwhile.  Children are not encouraged to explore or to use their creative talents.  Instead, they all feel pressured to be doctors, accountants, or engineers. 
          This conversation led to one about dowries and how girls feel pressured to pay tens of thousands of rupees for a husband.  Percy informed me that the dowry concept stemmed from the Hindu idea that women are lower than men.  Therefore, they must pay a dowry to equalize their status to get married.  This is so insane to me.  Between this practice and the remnants of the cast system, I feel like India is one of the darkest places on earth.  However, the church is so alive and at work casting out the blackness of sin.
          Rather than rushing through the palace, we opted to go straight to Pastor Sudhaker’s house to see the girls.  Almost as soon as we got there, the girls began to dress us up in sarees.  Usha started with me.  She brought out a light blue, filmy saree with pinkish-purple flowers.  It was beautiful!  She is so sweet to always pick out my favorite color. 
          Putting on a saree involves an underskirt and a tight, cropped blouse.  Then, there is a lot of tucking, folding, and wrapping.  Usha was very gentle as she pinned the cloth around me.  When she adorned me with a necklace, earrings, and a hair jewel, I felt like a queen.  The bangles she tried to put on me were too small, but I got out the ones I bought.  They matched perfectly!  Usha said I must have dreamed about the saree so I knew which ones to buy.  That made me smile.  Once all of us were decked out like Indian princesses and Will was in his crazy awesome princely wear, we took TONS of pictures. 

          After dinner, we rushed to take off the sarees and to buy bags from the girls.  Usha brought me a cerulean one that I LOVED!!!  I pad WAY too much for I because the money was going to pay for the October camp.  I also gave the rest of my rupees to the offering for Paul and Mary.  They did so much for us.  I could never fully repay them.  They are two of the most sacrificial people I have ever met.
          We gave the girls bangles and signed pictures as gifts.  I got to give green bangles to Megha and blue to Usha.  Then, we all hugged a million times and teared up as we said “goodbye.”  I kept telling the girls that they were/are beautiful and loved by God and by us.  God must have known that we needed some comic relief because when I walked out of the house and saw my shoes on the ground, I realized that I was still wearing the washroom shoes!!  I’d had them on for quite a while and did not even realize it.  All of the girls laughed, especially Pranitha.  It eased the sadness a lot. 
          Back at the hotel, we packed, loaded up the bus, and then got on the road to the airport.  It felt/feels surreal to be leaving.  It was so hard to say goodbye to Paul and Mary.  I know that I am leaving a part of my heart in Hyderabad and taking a part of Hyderabad with me in my heart.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October Currently

It's October!

Hurray for pumpkins, cool weather, colorful leaves, and everything fall!

I'm linking up with Farley for the Currently.

Oh' boy fourth grade

ANTM is still my guilty pleasure.  It is kind of pathetic and I really should give it up, but I just can't.  I honestly only watch it for the cool photo shoots, which are getting ridiculous.  I really hate the annoying drama.

After a rough start to the year behavior-wise, a colleague of mine suggested trying some Whole Brain Teaching techniques.  It only took one day for me to be SOLD.  I am now officially in love with Class...Yes, the Rules procedures, and the Smile and Frown Scoreboard.  I plan to introduce more techniques soon, since they are super engaging and seem to really work well for my rambunctious kiddos.

Click the link to discover Whole Brain Teaching for yourself.

80 degrees in October!!!  Nice, but too hot!  I'm ready for some cooler fall weather.

Right now, I am really feeling positive.  I am surrendering the stress and worries about school and life in general to the Lord and just living one day at a time.  I hope to stay grounded in the Word throughout the year.

My 11:30-midnight bedtime is not working too well.  I know the tiredness is going to catch up with me soon and not in a good way. 

I am in LOVE with this cute video from Harry's Kindergarten.  I showed it to my class once or twice and have been using the language from it ever since.  Instead of getting aggravated when kiddos aren't sitting correctly or repeating the same thing over and over again, I just use a cute call and response from this video to get them back to correct positions.  For example, if they aren't keeping their hands to them self, I call out "Hands in lap!" and they respond "Gingersnap!"  If they start talking when they get to the carpet, I say "Lips zipped!" and they say "Cool Whipped!"  This kind of fits with the style of WBT and it's working great!

That's my currently!  Hope you enjoyed!

Left My Heart in Hyderabad

Day Eleven: Bethel Kids and Sarah’s College Girls
          Last night I coughed pretty much the whole night.  I couldn’t get the tickle out of my throat.  I don’t know if I’m getting a cold or what.
We had devotions in our room to start the day, filled up water bottles with the huge 5 gallon drum, and then had our traditional breakfast.  Once we were all ready, we loaded up and headed to the Main Church to play with some kids from a different home.  We had to meet with them at the church because it would not have been safe for us to go to them.  People in the community would have wanted money.  This was not part of our original schedule, but it turned out to be one of the most fun sessions. 

          We started with songs.  The kids pretty much took over singing and dancing to every song they knew.  We all laughed and tried to follow the motions.  Next, BJ told the story of Noah’s Ark.  She literally made it up as she went along.  In fact, all of the activities we did today were spontaneously done or loosely planned due to a lack of craft supplies and a need to use up tissue paper.  Turns out, we should have done Noah’s Ark all along.  A, W, and B were hilarious sinners and mockers, the children were awesome animals, C had a great elephant call, and M was a hysterical bird.  She even put yarn in her mouth as an olive branch.
          After so much structured time, the kids needed to go nuts.  They spent the next 20 min. running in circles with their butterflies flying behind, holding hands and turning in circles etc.  It was both fun and scary to watch.  I hoped no one would get hurt. 

          When we gathered the banchees, K led Red Light, Green Light (Stop, Go).  The kids had a blast, but we had trouble with 3 boys that kept cheating.  Also, I had to be the crazy “squisher” to get everyone to scoot back to the start.  Still, everyone enjoyed the game.
          However, they did not take to 7 Up or the hand clapping games.  Instead, they taught us KoKo, a super popular game in India.  What happens is 9 people squat (ouch!) in a line.  Every other person faces the opposite direction.  Then, a tagger starts at one end and a runner or runners at the other.  When the game starts, the runners run in and out and around all of the squatters.  The tagger can run around the end of the line or tap out one of the squatters to take his/her place as the tagger. 
          We all had a blast playing in two teams.  There was tons of screaming, laughing, and cheering!  Will struck terror into everyone’s hearts.  I screamed bloody murder when he got up to chase me.  So crazy fun. 

          The children left and Sarah’s college girls arrived with mango juice, chutney, and rice.  Henna began.  Soon my arms and feet were covered in Mega, Hema, and Akila’s work.  Before getting my henna done, I had a great conversation with Pranitha.  We laughed about sleepover conversations and jokes.  Then, I shared part of my testimony and she told me more about her story.  I encouraged her that Jesus wants to carry her burdens and cover her with his love.
          When it was time to leave, we all struggled to carry our things with henna covered arms.  Then, 10 of us crammed into the wagle and drove to Pastor Sudhaker’s house.  While there, the girls taught us Bollywood dance moves, I taught them, “Hello, my name is___. Goodbye” in Japanese.  Ashwini wrote the words on her hand in Telegu using henna.  Crazy.        It is so great to bond with the girls.  I feel like their friend/mentor/sister. 
          Before dinner, the girls performed two dances: one with the younger ones; the other with the older ones.  It was fun to get up and try the moves with them after they performed. 

          Dinner was mutton kabobs and biryani.  The girls served us enthusiastically and watched to make sure we ate enough rice.  When I took seconds, Usha was so happy.  Later, she told me that she made the meal special for me, so that I would come back.  Stab in the heart.  I told her that I would love to come back if God allowed, but that I have to go where He leads me.
          After dinner we had an emotional Stones of Remembrance Night.  Each of us shared our stories, placed rocks down to form an altar, and listened to Pastor Sudhaker’s wise words.  He said it seems as though the trip had lots of spiritual warfare, but that meant God had big plans for us.
          Next, the girls surprised us with handmade gel candles with our names on them.  Usha made mine blue because it’s our favorite color!  We left the house in two trips since we only had a small wagle.  I went in the first group.  Victor, Sarah’s husband, drove slowly due to the flooded roads. 
          Back at the hotel, I relaxed a bit until my roomies got back.  When they did, A told me that Usha specifically told her to say “goodnight” to me.  It warmed my heart to know that she specifically bonded with me, but it made thinking about leaving even harder.