Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My First Visual Lesson Plans

Where has the week gone? My plan was to post about this topic on Sunday or Monday, but it's Wednesday and here we are.

After seeing so many amazing bloggers create their Visual Lesson Plans, I decided to take the plunge and attempt my own.

A BIG Thank You to Nicole and Reagan for giving the the courage to make the leap (I only hope someday my plans look as amazing as yours)!!

If you click the image above, you will pull up a the Lesson Plans, Homework Assignments, and  a Weekly Literacy Center Menu.

Phew! I can't believe I actually did it?! I am so happy with how they have turned out and I am sure with time, I will love them even more!

In the file, I have included a Weekly Literacy Center Menu. This year I have been trying to incorporate the Daily 5 into my classroom. As much as I have loved components of it, I just don't feel that it fully meets my needs. I needed to see my students practicing skills that meet their needs. After so much research (or blog stalking, I found a fabulous blog that really helped me to come up with a plan that combines Daily 5 and Centers, as well as choice and requirements. Sarah, from Sarah's First Grade Snippets, chose to create a Center sheet that students would complete throughout the month, with each center being required. As much as I loved the idea, I wanted to create a Weekly Literacy Center Menu, where students have the opportunity to choose the centers they complete, the center menu, worksheets/print-outs, and folder is due at the end of the week. I love the fact that students have the ability to work on the necessary skills, but also have an opportunity to make choices based on their interest.

My hope is the Visual Plans inspire you to take the plunge, too!!

How do you organize your weekly plans and do you do centers, Daily 5, Guided Reading or your own system?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Linking Up with Love and a Great Tip!

As I was scrolling through blogposts this morning I discovered a Linky Party - Linking Up with Love, from Tessa at Tales from Outside the Classroom. I knew I had just had to join...I just LOVE love. If you ask my future husband, I am always interested in reading a book or watching a show/movie that has love involved! Yes, I am sucker for Love.

Who do I love?

I must begin with my future husband, Jeff! As of this February, we will have been together for 5 years and we will be getting married this July. I feel so lucky and fortunate to have found a man who adores me! Love is definitely in the air for us this year!

I am madly-in-love with my family, especially my sister! My sister and I are "talkers," just ask our significant others. My sister lives in CO and we have found time to connect for hours on the phone. She is one of the great highlights in my day!

(My sister is the one in the blue, brown, and white dress)

My dog, Elvis. He has a way of making my life wonderful, crazy, and frustrating, all at the same time. However, I wouldn't be the same without him. 

What do I love?

Hart of Dixie! A co-worker of mine had been telling me to watch this show for quite some time, and I began catching up on it over winter break. Needless to say, I am hooked and in-love! If you haven't seen it before, check it out on Netflix, you won't be disappointed :)

Home Goods -- My fiance and I bought our home last summer and we have been slowly, but surely, decorating each and every room. Home Goods has allowed me to create a beautiful and stunning home, but for just the right price!

Second Grade! I teach in a multi-graded classroom. I have been teaching 2nd and 3rd grade for 4 years and I have found that my heart belongs in 2nd grade. You just know when you have found the grade you were meant to teach in and I have found mine.

,I love "Wake Up With Taylor" on Cosmo Radio (found on SiriusXM)! Taylor and Kenny are hilarious and they make my 45 minute commute funny, enjoyable and quick. 

As for my tip, I have been wanting share muscle movements I use to teach sight words. A few years ago, I attended a workshop about reading research. While I was there, I learned about the alphabet stretch. The alphabet stretch is where students move based on where the height of the letter. For example, a letter that stops at the plane (dashed) line, such as "a", students put their hands on their hips. For a letter that reaches the sky like, such as "t", students reach to the sky, and for letters that hang down to the worm line, such as "g", students touch the ground. As students are looking at the sight words on the board, they recite the spelling of the sight word, as they match the stretches with the letters. 

I tell the students that these stretches help them to build muscle memory, so that they can achieve fluency with their sight words. 

Here is a little video of a student stretching and spelling a sight word. Hope you enjoy and this little tip helps support your classroom!

My apologies for the lovely, long post! 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

You Just Have to Have This!

Christina Bainbridge has an amazing blog and she was one of the key people who motivated me to get involved in the blogging world.

Last Spring, I was scrolling through her blog posts and I came across a giveaway she had posted. She was offering up memberships to a website called Samson's Classroom. At this point in time, I had never heard of Samson's Classroom nor had I used it within my own classroom. Mrs. Bainbridge is obsessed with reading education and I trusted that if she was promoting the software that it was worth trying to win.

Needless to say, I did not win, bummer! :( Yet, Samson's Classroom offered a surprise offer for the rest of her readers, which was a year subscription for $10 (that's right, 10 dollars). I immediately took advantage of the offer and my classroom was off and rolling.

After using the program for over a half a year, I have fallen in love with the program! One component that I love the most is Sight Words with Samson. First, my students love it. Do I need to say more? When your students are engaged and motivated to work with a program, that is enough of a reason to love a program, game, etc. Second, I love the program because it allows students to learn the sight words before they are expected to manipulate or master the words.

Here are some pictures my students working with the program:

Check out the demo's and discover Samson's Classroom. My hope is that Samson's Classroom may suit your needs and be a welcomed addition to your classroom!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Managing Homework!

Managing homework (or paper work for that matter) can be extremely overwhelming. I have found a simple system that I would love to share.

At the beginning of the school year, I determine what my homework schedule is going to look like. I then create a table in word with my students' names, as well as the different homework items that will be sent home during the week.

After I have designed a table that suits my needs, I print the sheet and make multiple copies. I clip the copies to a clipboard (one of my best friends). I hang the clipboard next to my H.O.R.S.E folder box (see Mrs. Bainbridge's website to learn more about the folder organization). H.O.R.S.E folders are place for students to organize their homework as they bring it back and forth from home to school.
Each morning, students turn in their H.O.R.S.E folders. As students manage their other morning responsibilities, I check-in student homework. I put check mark under a homework item that a student has completed. If a student has failed to complete or return the item, I circle the box as a reminder for myself. Lastly, if I have an absent student, I write a small A in the corner.
This picture shows the beginning of a weekly homework check-in sheet. The process is simple and straight-forward, but ultimately, I have found it helpful in managing incoming/incomplete homework.

I hope this little tip helps you and I would LOVE to hear more about your homework systems!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Introducing Vocabulary and a Freebie!

Our school, this year, adopted a new reading series -- Treasures Reading Curriculum. At the beginning of each week, I introduce the weekly vocabulary words. Since I was new to the program, I followed the programs steps carefully.

As I became comfortable with the steps, I was looking for a quick game that would be a little more engaging than the basic steps Treasures provided. Now wouldn't you know that as soon as that thought popped into my head, an amazing blogger would provide a fantastic solution (how did she know I needed another option?). :)

Clutter-Free Classroom wrote a post about how she introduced her Treasures Reading Curriculum vocabulary words. It was simple, quick and engaging. Her routine also allowed students to use their context clue skills. I highly encourage you to check out her routine because I am sure you will find it as useful!

For quite a few weeks, I used Clutter-Free Classroom's vocabulary routine. I really enjoyed it, but I still I found I needed to tweak it a little bit more to suit mine and my student's needs. That's when my vocabulary routine was born.

Would you like to know more?  Okay, Okay, here are my vocabulary routine steps:
I begin my vocabulary routine by displaying only the first letter of each word. I cover up the rest of the word with part of a sentence strip and a magnet. On the other side of the sentence strip is the entire vocabulary word. 
My students join me at our meeting area. I explain to everyone that their job is to use the letter and context clues to figure out what the word is. Next, I read a sentence leaving out the vocabulary word. For example, "Rose used a sheet to ____________ (separate) her room from the rest of the family." 
Students will then raise their hands to offer up a guess. With each incorrect guess, I reveal another letter. Sometimes, I will re-read the original sentence or provide the students with another sentence that might give the children another clue. When a student has correctly identified the word, I turn the sentence strip over to reveal the entire word and I read the word's definition.

As a class, we work through the rest of our vocabulary words. What I loved about this routine, as well as Clutter-Free Classroom's routine, was the engagement I had from all (and I mean ALL) of my students. With the program's simple steps, I was not really getting the most bang for my buck. I found some students sitting quietly, while the same students continued to offer up their questions and comments. Also, I found it to be simple to display and organize. It didn't require a ton of materials. 

For any of my blogging friends or followers, I hope this or Clutter-Free Classroom's routine offers you a new way of introducing your program's vocabulary words. 

If you have any tips or tricks for introducing vocabulary or any success with this routine, please don't hesitate to share! 

P.S. I mentioned a Freebie and I must deliver! I created a new Social Studies Unit -- Northeast Region States and Capitals and I wanted to share a little snippet (this is a technical term) with you...enjoy! :)

Pin It button on image hover