August 23, 2015

First Week Plans and a B2S Assessment FREEBIE!

Well the time has come. 
Met my kiddos.
Plans have been done.
Copies are made.
Food is prepped.

Bring on the first week of school!

A few weeks ago I shared with you the books I read the first week.
If you missed that post find it HERE.

I am not required to type up my plans but wanted to share what I do the first week.....
Even if it is just written out in my handy dandy Erin Condren teacher planner. 
Because I once was a *clueless* first year teacher just trying to survive, wishing I had someone to guide my every step. So if that's you, read on!

I tend to write out as much as I need to remember, with a little code here or there. 
So if you have a question please feel free to ask away!

A few years ago, I put together this quick and simple set of assessments because let's face it, we have know idea the potential of our babies when they come to us. So I created this gem to help me know mine better and wanted to share it with you as a FOREVER FREEBIE!!

Click on the picture and it will take you to my TpT store to download!
Hope your year is full of joyous memories!

August 16, 2015

Numbering Your Kiddos: A Time Saving Tool

As a teacher it sometimes seems overwhelming with all that we have to keep up with!

I wanted to share with you one system I have put into place to help my classroom run a little more smoothly.
Each year I take my roster and assign a specific number to each student.
I deem this as their "magic number" and it sticks with them the entire year.

I tend to put numbers on many things in my classroom.

Not only does this make ordering things such as papers, grades etc. easier, it also makes my beginning of year prep easier! It is a great time saver for me when I am getting things set for the start of school.

When you write numbers on things instead of students names, many of these things become reusable for the next year!!! 

Here are a few of the things I choose to put numbers on instead of student names:

Book Boxes

Classroom Job Chart

Student Mailboxes 

Dismissal Card Holder

If you don't already assign each student a number, it's a really simple thing to do.
Try it out this year, I guarantee it will save you time in some sort of fashion!

August 10, 2015

Reading Groups In Action!

Welcome back!
If you missed my first post about "Kicking off Reading Groups" back track a little and read all about it  HERE.

Now that I've showed you HOW my reading groups and rotations work, let's take a look at........... "the what".

What do you do in small groups?
What about the other kids?
These were the two main questions I asked myself when I decided upon how to structure my reading groups and rotations. If you read my last post, then you know it took me all of 3 years to figure out a system that works efficiently for me!
After many trials, errors, and successes, here are the answers I found out:
What do you do with those kids?
The main focus of these small groups are to teach decoding/comprehension strategies and to practice reading but occasionally we will work on phonics, grammar, etc.
What about the other kids?
The rest of the class are actively engaged in other rotations either individually or with a partner.
I wanted to give you a glimpse into what my students are doing when we are in our reading groups and our rotations/centers/paw prints...whatever you want to call them.
 I showed you how I store these activities in my last post.

Each paw print has its designated tub. Each tub is what holds the actual activities...whether it be a rhyming puzzle, grammar sort, or word work. Students are allowed to take these tubs around the room and work wherever they please (we define boundaries the first few weeks).

Read to Self.
Read to Someone.
Read to Teacher.
These are the only parts of the Daily 5 I use, and really I only use the name because it's self explanatory. Each day the students will read to themselves out of their book box, they will read to a friend, and they will work together with me to read to teacher.
Read to teacher isn't always reading.
Since I meet with each group Everyday, I feel like there are times when we need to change it up.

Sometimes we work on decoding strategies.
Sometimes we learn new comprehension strategies.
Sometimes we practice phonics.
Sometimes we do a grammar sort.
It all just depends on what I feel each group needs help with.
Here is a look at what my "read to teacher" area looks like.
Each shelf is home to a separate reading group.
The boxes of books came with our textbook adoption. I use them sparingly.
Each basket holds a folder for practice pages we may complete together.
I also have a color coded spiral in each basket so that I can take notes while we meet.
I house books I pull from our literacy library that we read throughout the week in the baskets too
To sum it all up, I really couldn't imagine my reading group time working any better.
Meeting with my students everyday really helps me to know them as readers and learners.
The bonds I form with them during these times are irreplaceable!
If I were to ask them their favorite time of the rotations would be their answer, and "read to teacher" would be their favorite choice. If that doesn't melt your heart, I'm not sure what would! 

August 6, 2015

Kicking off Reading Groups!

How soon do you start reading groups?
How many kids are in a group?
When do you meet with them?
These are ALL questions I felt boggling my mind the first few years of teaching.
I KNEW there was a system and I would eventually come across it and it would work!
It just took some time...3 years....with many trials, errors, and eventually successes.
Today I wanted to share with you how I facilitate my reading group rotations and small groups.
But first let me answer those questions from ^^^:
How soon do you start reading groups?
I begin training my kids the 2nd day of school.
We begin by talking about stamina.
I don't actually start rotating the groups until I have taught each rotation and the expected behaviors. I also have to DRA and find out the level of each student.
My goal is to start meeting with my groups by the 6th week of school.
How many kids are in a group?
I group them by DRA level, so depending on those, as low as 2 or 3 and as many as 6.
When do you meet with them?
I meet with EVERY group EVERYDAY (Mon-Thur)! 
Let's start off talking about how the students know where to go.
Here is the chart I use to display the rotation cards for each group.

Fundamentals of the Chart:
My reading groups are coded by animals: Giraffes, Cheetahs, Monkeys, Zebras, Lions.
Each (animal) group of students move horizontally across the rotation chart.
Students ALWAYS begin each day at rotation 1 and end the day on rotation 5.
{more explanation in fine print below}
Each paw print that you see on the chart represents a different "center".
I store these "centers" in a tub on a shelf.

Next week, I will take you on a tour and show you what each component on the rotation chart looks like in action!

If you are looking for rotation cards, I recently created mine (after revamping them) into a product that you can purchase in my TpT store.

Check back next week for more on kicking off reading groups!

August 4, 2015

What Books Do I Use for the First Weeks?

The first 2 weeks of school are probably some of the most important days of the entire school year. 
They are days when you create a positive environment.
They are days when you form a class family.
They are days when you teach the rules and procedures.
They are days when you set the foundation for the year.

Many of the things I mentioned above are taught with books.
I wanted to share with you the lessons and ideas I use along with the books I use in the first 2 weeks.

Let's start off with a few of the books I use week 1.
We also read a few math related books the first week. 
Next up are books I use to teach rules and appropriate behaviors.
Week 2 is all about fariytales. Here are the ones I select to discuss.

I honestly hopes this bring life to some ideas for your first week.
I would love to answer any questions you have about activities or read alouds!
Happy planning!

August 2, 2015

Back to School with a SALE!

Like it or not, August is HERE!
Let's get ready to go back to school together.

TpT's annual Back to School sale starts August 3 and goes until August 4.
I have extended the sale in my store for two extra days!

Here are a few of the Back to School products I have to offer in my store!


Reading Group Rotation Cards

Printable Anchor Charts

Classroom Job Cards

Positive Behavior Management Ticket System

Introductory Rules Lessons


Have fun shopping and don't forget to use the code: BTS15