I can't believe it is already November and we are only 27 days away from our baby's due date! (if she can wait that long...) Since I am still out on bed rest, I have been busy, busy, busy making my very first thematic unit.  This adorable unit has everything you need for a November unit leading up to Thanksgiving.  


I hope you will go check it out! If you download the preview in my TPT store you can grab the Thanksgiving KWL chart and writing paper for FREE!!

We Are Thankful


Here are just a few of the activities and resources included:




If you visit and like my facebook page, I have listed the Turkey addition as a Fan Freebie just for you!!

I hope you enjoy and would love to hear your feedback before I start to create a fabulous Holiday unit for December.

The leaves are falling, its cool outside, and I'd like nothing more than to go for a nice fall walk today. But I'm still on bed rest until our sweet little girl decides she's ready to meet us. So to get in the fall mood I am creating some fall themed products today that I hope you can use in your classroom!

First I made a Candy Corn CVC match for literacy centers:


Then I made a matching Candy Corn Number Sense match for Math Workstations:



Go to my TpT store to get them for your class and download the previews for free copies of the response sheets :) 

And finally I created some Halloween themed writing papers that you can download here for FREE!



I hope you find them useful!




Today I have some of my favorite writing apps to share with you... 

1. Story Creator - FREE!!
I'd have to say that this is by far my favorite for use in kindergarten. It is very simple for the kids to use, and doesn't have too many options for colors/ stamps/ clip art etc. to distract them from actually writing. It allows the kids to draw or use a photo, write text, and then record their voice reading it.  


When they record their voice they can see the text. When you play back their recording it highlights the words as they are read which is great for concepts about print.  It's not perfect but you can adjust the recording with the words if you want.  It is also very easy to email the story when it is finished which is great for me as a teacher so I don't have to look at each students iPads to read their stories.


2.StoryKit-FREE!!
This one is my old favorite before I found Story Creator.  It has essentially the same capabilities as the  Story creator app, but offers more options for colors/brushes to draw with.  this sometimes became distracting to my kinders so I would end up with very elaborate coloring and very little writing at times.  I had to more closely monitor this one.  Also when students record their voice the text is not visible so it was difficult for the kids to remember what they were recording unless it was one short and simple sentence.


3. Scribble Press - 3.99
This one is great to use later on when students get better at writing. There are a lot of options for drawing tools, stamps, and stickers.  There are also story templates and great sharing tools to make it public to the whole world. One drawback is that there is no voice recording feature,  which is a huge time saver in kindergarten because I don't have to personally sit with each child to have them read to me in the beginning when I cant decipher their attempts at phonetic spelling.  I started using this one after my students became great at using the other writing apps though, so most students writing was to the point that their attempts and auto correct helped a lot in making their stories readable. I would recommend using the FREE apps first and then trying this one out when you feel your kids are ready for more!



That's all I've got for now. Hope you find these apps useful!


It's official, I am going stir crazy!  I was put on bed rest on Wednesday of last week.  Totally unexpected because I am only 33 weeks.  I was thinking all of my pregnancy aches and pains were normal; I was trying to be tough, but baby is trying to come a little to early...so here I am.

I already miss my kiddos at school, and time passes so much more quickly when you have kindergartners to teach every day.  Tomorrow I will be wishing I was at the pumpkin farm enjoying some beautiful fall fun, but for now I'm trying my best to rest.  As excited as I am to meet my little girl, I can't bear the thought of her having to stay at the hospital in the NICU so she needs to keep cooking for a few more weeks :)

While I'm sitting at home I thought I'd get back to blogging more regularly and on that note I decided to commit to blogging every Tuesday about how I use technology with my kinders.  So today is officially my first "Tech Tuesday" post. 

Before I was told to take it easy, I introduced email to my kindergartners.  Here is how we started and the plans I have for using it in the classroom.

First I started with a little help from our building tech coordinator.  She pulled each of my students and set up their individual email accounts on their iPads with them.  This was a lifesaver for me so I didn't have to lug them all home to  enter their info.  
Next I gathered all my sweetie pies on the carpet in a large circle with their iPads in hand.  We went through step by step how to take a picture, tap the share option icon
 
and email it. The best part was that after entering my email once, it automatically pops up after they just type in the first letter! I'm the only one they are emailing for now, so this makes it super easy for them to email me quickly.  We went through this a few times together and everyone was on track and able to do it independently.

Finally, I had the students start using it to send me pictures of their work.  Currently we are using it each morning after students complete their words their way sort. They simply take a picture after they have finished and email it right away.  Previously I would have to go around and individually check each child's work daily.  The email option not only saves me time but also I can keep a record of their work and easily identify any confusions.  This will also be a great record to share with parents at conferences.

My future plans for using email in kindergarten:

1. Math center work - students take a picture of their center work (number sort, ordering numbers, shape sorting, etc) this will make for less response sheets unless the goal is writing, but still have a record of student work to keep accountability and assess progress.

2. Writing - Student's can email their stories as they begin to learn to word process them. We also use the scribble press app to write and create stories.  This app has a share by email option as well so this will be great for feedback as students are working.

3. Daily 5 Word Work - Similar to math center work, students can take pictures of the words they have made with magnets, play dough, etc, or the center activity they have chosen. Again less paper and more accountability with the option to easily assess and keep a record of each students work.

4. General questions and needs throughout the day.  I got this idea from a 4/5 teacher in my building.  Instead of students leaving their spot and interrupting small group time during daily 5/math/writing, they can simply email a question or need that they have to the teacher.  I always have my iPad next to me so I would receive the email immediately and be able to respond quickly without much disruption to my small group of the rest of the class. Now of course this will be a bit more complicated for kindergartners that can't always write what they are trying to say....so my thoughts are to have students use the dragon dictation app to quickly say their question and then email it.  When they receive my response they  just highlight the text and click on the speak icon (needs to be turned on in the accessibility options first) to have it read aloud to them.  PROBLEM SOLVED!!

I'd love to hear any great ideas you have for using email in the classroom with your kiddos. Leave a comment to share your ideas!
                               
I have been busy busy busy trying to get my math journals posted to share with you all, and they are finally done and posted in my TpT store!  Here is a little overview of how math instruction looks in my classroom.

1. Everyday we start math with our calendar routine to review basic skills. This takes us about 10-15 minutes a day. I use the fabulous Calendar Books by Growing Kinders, along with several songs from You Tube and CDs to reinforce math concepts. You can find the calendar book here. 

2. Next we take out our math journals and students work independently and sometimes collaboratively to solve open ended problems.  I try to emphasize that there doesnt always have to be one "right" answer.  As long as students are able to explain their thinking there is generally a lot more that one way students can respond.  For example " At Grandma’s house there were 10 legs.  Who might they belong to??" 
  


 I just posted the journals in my TpT store if you'd like to check them out for yourself.  The preview has 7 FREE journals for you to try before you buy the whole product.  the full product has enough journals for about 6-8 weeks of instruction depending on how many days a week you get to them. (I usually do about 4 days a week.)

3. Last students rotate through math stations or meet with me in a small group.  I usually fit in about 3 - 15 minute rotations a day so students generally choose two math stations and then meet with me once.  Students can also choose computers or iPads as one of their stations.  

All together this makes up about 90 minutes a day of math instruction.  I'd love to hear how you structure your math block and how long you spend on math each day.

Thanks for stopping by, happy Friday!!
I get so many questions about how I set individual goals with 5 year olds (when they are not so independent yet).  So I thought I'd show a quick little tutorial on the process I use that works well for me. I just started goal setting today with some of my writers that need the most support, and here is what it looks like.

1. Assess students' independent writing.
The first and second week of school we took independent writing samples from our kindergartners in each genre (narrative, information, and opinion) based on the common core.  These writing samples were taken with very little direction; simply "write a narrative piece with beginning middle and end." There was absolutely no help from the teacher.

2. Score writing on a rubric with grade level team.
We use the rubrics in Lucy Calkins New Units of Study. I love that these are grade level specific expectations along a continuum so we can really see where kids fall. Also a big reality check for how much most of our students need to learn as a majority were scoring minimal and basic with a small handful scoring close to proficient. I'm not too worried though because we have plenty of time to get there!

3. Look at goals from VOICES menu that may be appropriate for groups of students.
I use the goal cards from the writing menu that I created based on the rubrics to choose the goals that might work for at least a handful of kids based on the assessments/rubrics. You can find it here.

4. Pull students individually to look at writing and choose from 2 or more goals.
I pull out the writing sample I took and read it back to the student then give them a choice of 2 or more goals.  For now I chose 2 that would work for about half of my kids, and 2 that would work for some of my more capable writers. Here is an example of one of my students needing a lot of support.
(sorry its upside down, this is from my view as I show the cards to the student, as you can see both choices would be good goals for this child)

5. Students complete their goal sheet while I pull the next student.
The student selects which one they would like to work on and then writes it on their goal sheet by copying for now.
 I then begin to confer with the next student while they finish writing their goal.


The goal setting sheets that we use in our district also have a spot for the students to add how they will show their evidence of learning and their learning plan.  I will post more about those parts soon.  but this is about all they can handle in their first goal setting conference so we stop here for now.  

After setting goals with all my students I have my writing strategy groups and I know my focus each time I confer with a child.  I am always amazed at how good students are at picking a good goal for themselves.  Of course it is guided so that I don't have 22 different goals at the same time, but still I rarely have to point out why a particular goal might be a better choice for them.  

These personalized goals really make learning more meaningful to students because they feel ownership in what they are working towards and it is specific to their needs.  making even the youngest student a part of goal setting has been a powerful tool in accelerating learning and increasing motivation/engagement in my classroom! I cant wait to post pictures of our first reading and math goal setting conferences soon :)
If you read my previous post during Teacher Week you know that our school emphasizes individual goal setting directed by the students.  I did really well with this using the CAFE menu for reading, but I needed to find a way to do the same in math and writing. 

A few weeks ago I posted about my VOICES (for the six traits: Voice, Organization, Ideas, Conventions, Exciting Word Choice, Sentence Fluency) writing menu. And have that all set up in my room.  You can read more about it here.


So my next step was to do the same for math. I'm hoping that again this will be just what I need to get my students to be the amazing mathematicians and problem solvers I know they can be. I decided to base it on the strands of math listed in the common core state standards which meant I needed to think of a clever acronym for it.  Finally I worked it out so the menu will be called "COUNT" The letters stand for:

Counting and Cardinality (K only, but could still be posted for other grades)
Operations and Algebraic Thinking
Understand Geometry
Numbers and Operations in Base Ten/Fractions
Think about Measurement and Data 

You wouldn't believe how long it took to come up with an acronym that would work. (PACING and MOON GO were also in the running for options...I think COUNT makes a little more sense, don't you?)

So here it is! It includes goals for K5-3rd grade. 


I cant wait to get these posted in my room! Please check it out and give me some feedback if you have ideas that will make it better!
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