Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Scholastic Reading Conference

I am linking up once again for the Big Time Blogging Challenge. The topic for today is "Create a SOMEDAY list. What do you want to get to someday - personal or professional."  I promise I WILL answer this, however....I want to discuss an amazing conference I attended earlier this summer. 


I mentioned a while back that I attended the Scholastic Reading Summit in St. Louis. I've been waiting to share the information with you until the resources for the conference were posted.  I got the email this week and we are good to go! 

While Scholastic is obviously known for its commitment to reading and bringing books into the classroom, the main focus of the reading summit was Independent Reading.  The day was jam packed with different sessions and meetings dedicated to supporting teachers in creating an environment where independent reading is a focus.

The summit started with a great motivational talk about the power of independent reading. I loved some of the quotes: 

"The single factor most strongly associated with reading achievement - more than socioeconomic status or any instructional approach is independent reading." ~ Dr. Stephen Krashaw

"There's no such thing as a child who hates reading. There are just kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong book. We need to help them find the right books. There are millions of kids in this country who've never read a book they love and that needs to change." ~ James Patterson 

How inspirational!!! Then it was time to get busy!

The first session I attended was about classroom libraries. I have always had a classroom library, however, since moving to Kindergarten, I've felt that it was an area in need of desperate help. I personally own A LOT of books, but I have (admittedly) hoarded them selfishly for myself at home. I'm a bit protective over books and have been 'keeping them safe'. After some thinking, even before I attended the summit, I knew I wanted to bring them into the classroom. How was I ever going to share my love of these books without letting children touch them, smell them, look at them and read them? The problem I still had? I wasn't exactly sure the best way to organize. 

During my first session with Sandi Novak, we discussed what best practice for a classroom library looks like. Ms. Novak has gathered information and research together to create a classroom library inventory. It discusses the number of books that should be in your classroom library, the type (fiction, nonfiction, magazine, etc.), the range of reading levels, and how books should be organized and displayed. Teachers can use this inventory to evaluate their own classroom library. To practice using it, we evaluated a mock classroom set up at the conference. I love this tool! It is simple and easy to use, has a spot to mark in progress (nobody has everything right away, right?), and is completely doable. To grab your copy, click on the picture below. 


You can also check out all the other FANTASTIC resources provided for FREE by Scholastic by clicking HERE.

Using this information, and KinderCraze's fantastic labels, I completely overhauled my classroom library! Here is what is looks like now! 



These shelves contain *most* of my themed books (56 categories!).


This shelf holds my leveled readers. Best practice is to provide students with leveled books two grade levels above and two grade levels below your grade. I am still working on gathering lower level books for my library (in progress!) but I feel good about my start!


This little book shelf will hold class books we make throughout the year as well as magazines and books we borrow from library. These books will face out! 


My book hospital tub for broken/ripped books, and my sweet, cuddly animals!!!


I will be getting a rug for this area but this is my comfortable seating so far! 


While I don't have a separate nonfiction section (not enough room!), I do have nonfiction books mixed in. Here is an example of my 'Fall' tub. 

While I certainly don't feel my library is 'complete' (is anything ever really?), I do feel confident that it is a great space for my students to practice becoming independent readers while falling in love with books. 

The second session I attended focused on creating a school atmosphere to support independent reading. Scholastic has partnered with several 'model' schools across the country to study practices and procedures that help build student success. The principal from one of the model schools, Mrs. Stephanie Brant from  Gaithersburg Elementary in Maryland, presented this session. SHE. WAS AMAZING! She was full of some inspiring ideas. Here were a couple of my favorites!

~ Books and Bagels: families can come on a Saturday morning, get bagels and borrow a book

~ Reading Commitments: not only between student and school, but FAMILY and school!

~ Daily Independent Reading: every day for a set amount of time EVERYONE stops and reads, even the teachers and principal!

~ Who Loves to Read Bulletin Board: highlighting different teachers throughout the year and their favorite books 

~ Family Field Trips to the Library: the school buses families to the library to check out books!

This school was seriously amazing in their commitment to create an independent reading environment for students. I gained so many ideas that I want to implement in our building (my principal is going to love me!).

The conference wrapped up with a keynote address featuring the author Deborah Wiles. She in an amazing speaker! She discussed her journey into writing and how connections and moments in her past have inspired and influenced her work. You all have to hear her speak. I cried. Multiple times. While most of her books are for older children, I couldn't resist! I bought two of her books! 



I want my own children to hear these stories when they are older! I want them to hear their message! I was excited that I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Wiles at a book signing after the keynote address. She is so nice! 


Overall, the conference was AMAZING and the people from Scholastic who put on the conference?  SO.  NICE.  It was a great day!  Now, how did this all relate to the BTBC14 topic today?  I think eventually, as I think more and more about the future, I know I want to work with literacy.  Maybe a reading teacher, maybe a curriculum instructor, maybe a professor...?  I'm not exactly sure what route is the best for me and my family, but I do know that reading is a passion and something that I will definitely be working with in the future!  I'm feeling so excited to start this year and start working with my kiddos!  Only two weeks left!

XOXO,

Racheal

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Freebie and a SALE!


So I'm back after a busy, fun weekend with family and friends!  What a wonderful weekend!  Our friend Paul, who has been our friend for over 7 years, came for a short visit and we had a blast!  Paul teaches high school in a district in northern Missouri so it's always fun to have education conversations with him and see a secondary viewpoint.  We took him downtown to see where they filmed the new movie "Gone Girl".  You know "Gone Girl", right?  The book that was turned into a movie starring Ben Affleck?  Yeah, that was filmed right here!  We drove him by a few of the locations and then I just had to take a picture by 'The Bar'.  This is where a lot of hullabaloo happened during the filming (and where a lot Ben sightings were!)  I know filming wrapped up last fall, but this is the most exciting thing to happen to our small town in a LONG time, and I'm still star struck!



Although it was a busy weekend, I did make time to get some work done (it's always on our minds right?!  Since I totally revamped my classroom library (more info on that later) I knew I wanted to talk about appropriate book behavior with my students.  I created a new social story book and it is a FREEBIE in my TPT store.  Click on the link below to grab it!



This week will be a busy week!  School starts in only 2 1/2 weeks!  To celebrate I will be have a SALE starting Friday!  Check back later in the week to find out more details!




XOXO,

Racheal

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five for Friday - Last One for July!

Linking up again this week with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the last Five for Friday in July! 


Here are five things about my week!

This week I was able to spend some time working my classroom.  I was able to get my room arranged and some stuff hung on the wall!  Here's a sneak peek!



Baby girl was sick earlier in the week and for the first time this week she actually slept through the night last night!  She is feeling much better!  In fact, she played so hard this morning that I found her passed out with a baby in the recliner before lunch.  Sweetie!



We are LOVING summer at our house!  Especially Madi!  Check out this mischievous little girl!  Love her spunk!



Today I started a new workout program!  I've been receiving little subtle signs here and there that I need to start making myself a priority (something very hard for me).  So I decided to get back into the workout routine.  Check it out!  Day 1 of T25 down!  YAY!  So proud!



I'm getting super excited for this meet up coming up!  Any Missouri bloggers or teachers going?!  I can't wait!

XOXO,

Racheal


Thursday, July 24, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things....

Since getting into my classroom this week, I have been CONSUMED with getting things set up and ready.  I only had a small window to get things finished since my hallway will be shut down for the next few days to be waxed.  Well, let me tell you, when I am on a mission, I am on a mission!  My classroom is all arranged, my beautifully organized tubs are all in position, and I even have stuff hung on my walls!  #littletriumphs  To be honest, I still have a LOOOOOONG way to go, but the overwhelming/panicky/freak out feeling I had earlier this week (when I realized school starts in 2 1/2 weeks!) is slowly starting to subside.    

Since I am being forced (in a good way!) to take a break from my room, I thought I would catch up on some blogging challenge topics!


Day 23:  What is your favorite thing about your career?

Gosh.  This is HARD!  I love so many things about my job!  I cannot pick just one!  So here's my top three favorite things!

1. Smiles.  Big smiles.  Real smiles.  Full of job smiles.  Laughing smiles.  And not just the smile, but knowing I had a small part in putting it there - makes my heart happy.  

2.  Hugs.  I love teaching young children.  I am a huggy person.  I always have been.  We do hugs in my family every time we leave some place.  It's just who I am!  I am never without hugs in my job!

3.  The AHA moment.  The moment when they totally get it - especially if they've been trying to get it for a while.  :)

Day 24: Who are/were your mentors?  Who helped you grow as a teacher?

I have previously written about Mr. T, who was a former teacher who was influential early on.  Currently, I am blessed to have several teachers and friends who have supported me and challenged me in my career. The first person that comes to mind is my friend, Mara.  When I first began this journey as a blogger and TPT seller, I was NERVOUS with a capital N!  She has taught me so much about self confidence and listening to your gut.  She has been a shoulder to lean on when I am struggling with an issue in the classroom, and someone I can bounce ideas off of and receive honest and real feedback.  She also gives GREAT fashion advice!  She has been an important part of this journey and I am so blessed to call her my friend! 

(not the best pic!  we should fix that soon!)

The rest of my week and weekend I will be working on a few things including week 5 of my shared reading series, a ROCKSTAR small group game set (super excited for this one!) and a lesson on how to treat books for back to school.  However, you may not hear too much from me because I will be soaking up some of the last bits of my summer with my family and friends!  My husband's sweet cousin Alex graduated from high school (I remember taking him to ballgames when he was five!) and his graduation party is this weekend.  Yummy BBQ and playing outside!  Plus, our good friend Paul is visiting us which gives us a good opportunity for some grown up time (i.e. sushi, wine and uninterrupted conversation!)  I can't wait!

XOXO,


Racheal

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Guided Reading Set Up

Tonight, it's all about GUIDED READING!  Yes, I'm using all caps, because I AM THAT EXCITED!  Guided Reading is by far my favorite part of the day.  Getting that small group time to really interact and see where students are with their reading is exciting to me.  I have to admit, I didn't always feel this way.  My first year teaching Kindergarten, I was petrified.  I remember asking a colleague, "What if I can't teach them to read?!"  As educators, we are given this daunting task of teaching children how to read.  To READ! Something that will impact their life FOREVER!  Scary!  During that first year, and into my second, I worked, read, studied, observed, changed and modified how I did guided reading.  I'm still changing!  The thing is, I'm no longer petrified.  Oh, I am scared sometimes.  There are still students who I think, "Oh will I be able to help them?"  But I think a little fear is good.  It keeps us striving for more.  Thankfully, the petrified feeling has left and has been replaced with one of excitement.  Excitement to see where my kids can go, and what they will be able to do at the end of the year.  The progress they will make, big or small, is what I think of now.  

While guided reading is my favorite part of the day, I know it is also some of my students' favorite part as well.  The smiles I see when I call students to my table is uplifting.  They want to be called!  They want to practice reading!  I often have students who are too shy to raise their hand and share an answer in a large group setting, but come to me eager to share in small group.  I love that they feel comfortable in our safe space to do that.  My guided reading area is exactly that - a safe space.  A place to try new things, a place to make mistakes, a place to practice skills, and a place where you can feel supported, not judged.  

When I began setting up my classroom for the new school year, I knew that my guided reading area, along with my classroom library, would the first areas I set up.  Earlier in the summer I wrote about my plans for organizing my guided reading area....well here is the mostly finished product!  


I can't wait!  Everything is here, at my fingertips to help differentiate and follow the lead of my students!  I have my cube shelf from Target all put together (I did it myself!) with my cubes full of different materials.  



You can get your own copies of these FREE labels in my TPT store by clicking the link below!  I just updated them with a label for phoneme segmentation materials!


I have some of the things I use every day/week on top of the shelf for easy access including pens, my bell and wand, differentiation dice, white boards, magnetic letters, letter beads, mini pointers and funny glasses!  I will be doing more posts throughout the year with how I use these different materials in my guided reading lessons!





I hope you enjoy these teasers pictures of my classroom!  I will be posting more as my classroom starts looking a little cleaner....

XOXO,

Racheal

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Made It - Barely!

Today's post is a little bit of everything.  I was supposed to be going into school and working all day getting my classroom set up. Well...life had other plans.  Poor baby girl woke up with a fever.  After taking her to the doctor, I found out she's got an ear infection.  Ugh!  I hate when my girls are sick!  They are so miserable!  Look at that face!


While it's been a day full of extra snuggles (and extra crying - both baby girl's and mommy's tears), it has also been full of big girl fun!  Look at this sweet girl!  I went to check on her this morning and this is what I found. My precious princess!  



After little sister went to bed, we even got to make popsicles - YUMMY!


I am feeling a little productive today, since I had just enough time to finish up my Monday Made It! 


This is a project I've been working on and I am happy to show you all!  I've been slowly working on a calendar pack!  I LOVE calendar time in my room.  It can teach SOOOOO many skills in such a small chunk of your day, and, once you get into the flow, it really doesn't take that long to do!   I wanted to create something that closely matched the things I was already doing in calendar.  Students can follow along and fill in their own calendar, weather, number of the day, pattern, etc.  It keeps them engaged and accountable and they are practicing SOOOOO many skills!  Patterning, time, money, graphing, numerals, number order, counting, number bonds, etc.  My students really have a solid understanding when they are able to practice these skills in such a seamless way every day.  You can the Calendar Companion using the link below (first picture).  It's on sale until Wednesday night!





Now time for the BTBC14!


Todays topic, "How do you prefer to read?"  I love actual books!  There's something about the feel, the smell, the tradition...its magic!

My goal is to make it up to school to start on my classroom this evening once the hubby gets home!  I will post pics tomorrow! 

XOXO, 

Racheal

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back to Normal

I am soooo happy it's Sunday.  I know, I know.  It's sounds crazy!  But after the week I just had, I am so happy to see Sunday!  As you know, our air conditioner went out last weekend and we spent the week at my sister in law's.  We had a great time, especially all of the cousins, but we were exhausted by the end of the week!  We finally got to move back in to a nice cool house on Friday (small blessings people!), before we were packing up the car again early Saturday morning for a day in St. Louis at the zoo.  We loved it!



Today we were finally back to normal!  We played outside, mowed the craze, made a meal, did laundry....ahhhh!  Normalcy!  I also moved all of my school materials back to my classroom.  It only took two big vehicles and and hour and half!  Tomorrow I will begin working back in my room.  I'll be posting pictures as I work so look for those on Instagram!  I'll also be doing a blog post soon about how I set up my centers!

Since I've been MIA from the Big Time Blogging Challenge, I thought I would play a little catch up tonight on some of the topics! 


Day 16: Favorite movies and/or TV shows

FRIENDS!  I own every season on DVD!
Breakfast at Tiffany's 

Day 17: Share a great classroom management strategy

Mean what you say and say what you mean!
(and remember that they're five!)

Day 18: What are your teacher must have items you buy at the beginning of each school year?

Pens!  Love me some cute pens!
Pencil zipper pouches - I am constantly using these for centers and little pieces.  

Day 19: What holiday you enjoy celebrating most with your students?

CHRISTMAS!  I love everything about Christmas!  And I do a lot of fun units and activities around Christmas!

Day 20 : If money were no object, what experiences would you give your students?

HANDS ON!  Yes, we plant flowers and plants when talking about plant life cycles but I would LOVE to take them to a greenhouse!  Imagine taking them to a planetarium, the ocean, the jungles of Africa - all to see first hand the concepts and animals you talk about in your room!  Most of my students will never get those experiences, I would love to be able to provide that for them!

Whew!  Caught up!  I'll leave you now with a selfie my 16 month took of herself.  Who doesn't love a good baby selfie?!  


XOXO,

Racheal

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thrifty Thursday!

I am feeling SUPER productive today!  I not only uploaded my Beginning of the Year Shared Reading Weeks 3 AND 4....but I also uploaded the BUNDLE!!!!!  Everything you need for a month's worth of shared reading!  




I'm totally doing a little cheer right now!!!!!  Woohoo!

Next up is a blog post for Thrifty Thursday!  

I want to first say that Mr. Greg over at Kindergarten Smorgasboard is one of my FAVORITES!!!  He is fun, creative, and shares my love of GLITTER!  I have been waiting to link up with him and today is the day!
For my Thrifty Thursday idea I am sharing a new addition to my writing center this year.  I am always looking for fun and creative ways to get my students excited about the writing center.  Different pens, different papers, topics, stamps, markers, etc.  It usually lasts a short while and then the novelty wears off.  I am hoping my new idea holds their attention a little longer!

When parents ask me "How do I get my kid to write?" I always tell remind them that writing is not just pencil to paper.  Use sidewalk chalk, bathtub markers, window markers, ANYTHING!  Well, my classroom does not have a sidewalk and only has one window so I needed to think of a way to incorporate those things in the classroom.  I knew that I wanted to give my kiddos a way to get good feedback from the writing utensil and I knew that writing on a vertical was beneficial.  

So, the mirror board was created!  My daughter enjoys writing on the window with window markers and crayons and I have used them before to write little messages on her bathroom mirror so I knew they would be perfect for this!  (Disclaimer: the markers come off easier than the crayons - you may have to keep some baby wipes close by and be sure it's cleaned off at the end of every day!)  You can grab a variety of window markers and crayons at Wal-Mart at a pretty reasonable price!


Next, I grabbed a tall, framed mirror (also at Wal-Mart) for around $5.  This will be attached to the back of a shelf using extra strength velcro once I can finally get in my room!  Ahhh!


Here is my Madi modeling how students will use it!  Yay!!!


So serious! ;)

I think the aspect of writing on a mirror and seeing themselves as they write will be a HUGE motivator!  I can't wait to try it out!  I hope you find this post helpful!


XOXO,

Racheal