Using Poetry Notebooks to Practice ELA Skills

 I've been super busy this summer updating every one of my TPT products and I just finished updating one of my very first products.  I'm pretty excited about how it turned out.  
My poetry binder has always been a best-seller for me, so I decided to update the clip art and formatting as well as add over 50 new poems based on suggestions from previous buyers.  This poetry notebook now contains 80+ poems based on seasonal and science/social studies themes. So if you've previously purchased it, head on over to download a totally revamped version for FREE!
I love using a poetry binder in Kindergarten because you can use it to practice so many skills and it really helps emergent readers "read" before they are able to tackle leveled books.  
I introduce one poem a week in my classroom based on the season, holiday or unit we are studying.  I used to display the poem on chart paper but this past year, I started using my projector to display it on our interactive whiteboard which was great for saving paper and  I loved that I could save the work we did on the poem as a class. Students each receive a copy and store them in a binder that they can pull out and read any time.  We work on the poem for about 10-15 minutes a day.
My students' favorite thing to do was illustrate their poems. I encourage listening for details in the poem and including as much as possible which really helps their drawings during writing as well. This is a huge help when we work on visualizing later in the year, because they realize they have been working on it all year long!
I love using the poems with my poetry study task cards to practice a variety of ELA skills. They are great for differentiating too, because I can give one group of kids one skill, and another group a different skill.
Check out my Poetry Binder and Task Cards here:




Organizational Tips with Bloghoppin!

I'm back today to talk about one of my favorite subjects... Organization!  For real, I get so excited to organize things, it's like a weird addiction for me.

Here are some tips that I used in my classroom to help things run more smoothly:
 Organizing all those fantastic teaching resources is always a struggle.  I used to store all of my teaching materials in hanging files in my classroom.  
This was an okay system until I needed to plan. How many people have time to actually get their plans done while in their classroom? I know that I was never able to get everything done at school so I'd end up taking a folder of two home with me to finish my plans.  This always turned into a paper crinkling, falling out, hanging files stabbing me, and getting lost disaster!  So I finally decided one summer to put everything in binders, and let me tell you that this changed my teaching planning life!
Just look at how nice they look sitting there on the shelf *sigh* Okay so here is what I did. First I sorted everything by theme/unit that I teach.  Then within the binder I sorted into categories for reading, writing, math, and fun.  Most items are hole punched but some I put in page protectors for safe keeping.  I also started binders for each subject as well for non thematic materials.  Now that I have them all at home I want to sort through them even more, but thats my OCD.  Here are the covers for my binders if you are interested in binderizing your teaching files!
My next tip is for organizing your classroom library. If you are like me you have a problem with buying ridiculous amounts of children's books and are constantly reorganizing your classroom library.  I usually end up with bins that get too full and either have to change to a larger basket or subdivide the category.  I saved myself some time by creating labels that can be numbered and renumbered easily.  I also use velcro to attach the labels to my baskets so they are easy to remove and attach to different baskets. Here is a quick overview of my system and my labels.


I have the same labels available in black or chevron as well. Now I just need to tackle organizing the pile of teaching materials in my house...Hopefully I'll come up with some more great tips I can share then!

Don't forget that anything you purchase today is 28% off when you shop the back to school TPT Boost Sale!

Book Talk Tuesday-Into the Book

This week I my book isn't really a book it's a website.  But it's an AMAZING site for teaching reading comprehension.

Into the Book is a resource for both students and teachers.
First when students sign in the get a unique key that they can use to sign in again to save their progress on the different strategies. 
Next students choose the strategy they want to practice. They can work on using prior knowledge, making connections, questioning, visualizing, inferring, summarizing, evaluating, and synthesizing. In addition students can work on combining the strategies while reading.
 Here is an example of what the inferring practice looks like.  First students hear an explanation of the strategy and why its important. They can also watch the video of the teacher/class discussion.  I usually show this to the class.
 Next students make a choice for practicing the strategy.
I like that this example even includes using just a picture and no text to practice the strategy.
 After finishing students can listen to the song, practice the same strategy some more, or go back to the main menu to choose a new strategy. 
 The teacher section is a great resource for teaching comprehension because it includes such a variety of tools. There are lessons, books, videos, posters, and songs.
Oh and one more cool thing...It was created right here in my home state of Wisconsin! Pretty awesome!

The site has correlations to 3rd grade CCSS but that can be used as a reference up or down to your specific grade level.  I hope you will check it out and give it a try with your students!

Back to School Tips "You Oughta Know" About

I'm linking up with Mrs. McClain to share ideas that teachers "oughta know" about.  This month I'm sharing some Back to School Tips for Classroom Procedures.  
I'm usually a little OCD when it comes to having everything planned out before the year starts.  I never feel like I can be too prepared for the year ahead. With that being said, one of the things I like to do before the year starts is think about and list all of my important classroom procedures.

Of course with little ones I don't just sit them down and read them the list, that'd be silly and I'd get frustrated pretty quick. So having all of my procedures listed in one place to refer back to is a great way for me to be super consistent in the first few weeks with my expectations.

Here are just a few procedures and examples that I use to get you thinking about how you want things done to keep things running smoothly in your classroom this year:  

Beginning of the Day - Students remove binders from backpacks, hang belongings neatly, enter room quietly, turn in homework, and begin morning work.
End of the Day - Students get binder, check behavior chart, color calendar in binder, check cubby, get backpack, get dressed to go home, and sit quietly on carpet.
 Classroom Jobs - Jobs are changed at the beginning of each week and each student has a job.  (Think about jobs that will give your students responsibilities that help you without creating more work in the end!)
Classroom Library - Books are organized in bins by themes or levels. Students may only take one at a time. When finished with a book, students look at the letter/number on the back to return it to the correct bin. 
Tissue - Students may get a tissue any time without asking.Tissue must be thrown away immediately and then students should sanitize hands and get right back to work.
 Bathroom - If I am not teaching a whole group lesson, students may approach me and show the sign language sign for potty and I will either nod yes or no. I only allow 2 trips per day (1 morning/1 afternoon) unless it is a special case, and we do not take class bathroom breaks.
Water - Students may bring water bottles to class to keep on their desk.  Otherwise we only stop for drinks after recess, or I allow kids to leave the room for drinks if it is an especially hot day.
Pencils - Students use a sharp pencil from the center of the table. If the pencils are dull or break they can trade it in the cups near the sharpener. I sharpen them as needed. I don't allow students to sharpen pencils because I use an electric sharpener and it is loud and hard for kindergarteners to use without breaking it!
Early Finishers - Students may read quietly at their table from the books I place in the center of their table, finish any incomplete work, or work in any extra workbook that I may give students based on specific skills they need (math color by number, handwriting, etc.)


Attention Getters - My go to call and response is Teacher:"All Set" Students: "You Bet" I also turn off the lights, and ask students to put their hands on their heads when giving directions especially in the middle of a project when their busy little hands want to keep working!

I hope this list got you thinking a little bit. I have at least 20 more procedures that I plan out as well for everything you can imagine such lining up,  lunch count, attendance, getting supplies, cleaning up, recess, walking in the halls, and the list goes on and on and on! My advice is try to think of every transition and non teaching moment that happens in your day and try to find a way to make it as smooth and streamlined as possible.  We all know how precious our instructional time is so we want to find ways to maximize every second!

For more great tips check out the links to these fantastic teachers' blogs:

Freebie Friday

If you are still getting your classroom all set up for the year I wanted to share a few classroom decor items with you today.
I have two different welcome banners that are FREE in my TPT store and are a cute way to welcome your students to their new classroom. They include words for kindergarten-5th Grade.



Chevron Banner:



Check out more great freebies here:

Freebie Fridays