Friday, June 29, 2012

Tags for your bags and technology

Tags add a little personal style to your bags and are a great way to mark your technology so no one walks off with it by mistake. I did a Special Education presentation with about five other speakers a few years ago. We all had district computers that looked exactly the same. I watched a presenter finish and pack up  the computer she thought belonged to her. However, it was the wrong laptop and this could have ended up being a real disaster. Our curriculum specialist was going on next and was in charge of about 5 hours of training. We caught the mistake just before she walked out the door to go home. Lesson learned: LABEL YOUR STUFF! We label everything possible in the classroom but sometimes forget to do this for our personal things. Ipads  and cell phones all look alike now and can easily be picked up by the wrong owner. When you turn my iphone on my name shows up immediately , not to mention that my case looks like my blog button! (gift from the proud husband). Technology is the best thing since peanut butter but try not to lose it in a crowd. Here are a set of tags to get you stylin'...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

DIY: Tag... You're It!

So the daughters bought me this gorgeous leather, computer bag for the big birthday I had this year and I took the wrapper off two seconds ago to get ready for Vegas. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The design is so well thought out. I also took out the new laptop Dr. Crayons bought for the same birthday and I am wondering if he picked it because it's a dark purple and I love that color! Nah, men don't think that way. Anyhow I decided to make tags for all of this so I can tell it from the rest of the world's technology. This is such a simple thing to do and soon I was making it for my luggage too. These tags take minutes to create and I personalized it with my blog button. Cute huh? I ran it on high gloss photo paper (Costco brand) and punched a hole at the top and attached it with ribbon. Easy-peasey and it took no time to slam it together. You can get creative and use all that great clip art you HAD to have.
So if you're coming to Vegas I'll be the lady with all the labels (just in case I get lost!). I can't wait to meet you!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Emerging From the Heat of Summer Slide

This is now finished and available for you in two places. I like this reader because students can add a few sight words to their text and practice reading action words. They also get additional  practice with words ending in "ing". Beat the heat and add this to the other emergent readers I've created for some summer reading practice. Click on either store to purchase this for 4.00. It even comes with a student pointer to make it more fun. Have a ball reading!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer Slide- No Way!

This is a new reader I have created for those teachers doing summer school or for you to use in  August when we  return to school. There is a teacher version of this book and a student reader. We need to keep those little ones on top of their game. I hate summer slide. First grade teachers- do not hunt me down cause I'm trying!
 I need to enjoy every, single day of this vacation because I start my new position August 1st. Wow. That is just around the corner so I need to get all my summer projects done and squeeze in some serious fun. I even started Boot Camp with some friends since sitting at a computer has not helped my bottom at all! I better get a grip!

Buy This Book... You Will Not Be Sorry

Does this book look like a good read? If your district is adopting the common core and you are interested in adding in more technology, grab this book. I am enjoying it and marking it up everywhere. Boy do I have a lot to learn but I am so interested and excited to follow those hosting. How did I find this? Dr. Jean hosted a chapter and that was the clincher for me! She is a veteran teacher who lives in the real world of education. Her ideas are always age and grade appropriate. When she addresses kindergarten she is not talking about first grade curriculum. If you have ELL's this book will be very useful. Why do I love it? It addresses developmentally appropriate practices. WOW! That holds my interest immediately. If Dr. Jean is behind this book than I know I should look at it too! She never steers me wrong! Just letting you know... Click here to follow the others hosting this.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bring your digital frame to your classroom!

Do you have a digital frame at home that you're not using? If so, you might want to bring it into your classroom and make use of it. You can put text on it and just create jpegs for the kids to read sight words or even phases.
I had one sitting on my computer table near the bathroom filled with pictures from a special event and students use to watch it and wet their pants. I am not even kidding! Okay so I decided to offer up this reminder although I am sure many of you have thought of this just cause you are on it! Think of this as another item you can decorate and use at a station! Do you have any other thoughts?

Making a Case for iPad Protection

What kind of cases did your school buy to protect their ipads? Sometimes five year olds can be a bit impulsive(that's an understatement) and an ipad might hit the floor. What kind of case do you recommend? When I go on the internet there are millions of possibilities but I wonder which is the cheapest and best? Some brands do not support the latest and greatest ipad so you have to purchase with care. I will have to ask our tech guy what he purchased for the Transitional Kindergarten kids to use. What case has worked well in your room?
I would never purchase something this expensive without asking classroom teachers who use them all day. Seriously, teachers should be in charge of the world. We get it.
Thanks for all the great comments you have written. I really appreciate you jumping in and joining this study. We need to make thoughtful decisions for our students.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Am All Over Digital Photography

If you know me you are use to seeing me with a camera. Yup, I am super sentimental and a compulsive photographer. I am also a digital scrapper. There, I finally admitted that.I have found millions of ways to use photography in my classroom. I know most bloggers are on board with this but maybe you use photography in ways I haven't thought of. Chapter two of Teaching in the Digital Age is all about this. 
Here are some of the ways I use photographs in my classroom:
1. First day pictures which are used for labeling cubbies,  making name charts, and  cards for pocket chart work.
2. Often I use photographs to create thinking maps, sorting boys and girls, and worksheets to sustain student interest.
3. I use photographs to create emergent readers and Big Books ( Helpers At Our School and Stores In Our  Community)
4. I use digital pictures to create Power Points of all kinds. Some of these are for building background in both  Science and Social Studies. So I have one on the symbols of our country and use some animation to keep student interest high.
5. Often I make Photo Story 3 Movies so students can retell a special event in our classroom or a field trip wewent on. These can easily be sent to parents.
6.I use Smilebox and create simple little movies for the families I serve.
7. When I train teachers my Power Points are loaded with students doing specific activities and photos of their work. It really clarifies information.
8. Often I will email parents sight word PowerPoints or a simple movie of letters and sounds using my voice.
9. I take songs that the kids love and build a PowerPoint so they have the support of graphics and can see the  text. Often I let the children work the computer while we all sing!
10. PowerPoint presentations can be printed out and made into books by just putting the pages into protective sleeves and  binding.

 11. The cutest thing I EVER did was take a video with my iphone of a child jumping rope successfully for the first time and I sent it to his mom. SHE LOVED ME FOR A LONG TIME.

Now technology is much more available to our students and I am thinking about some new possibilities:
1. I want to use photography more for anchor charts. Take a picture of expected behaviors at your various stations and post them.

2. Kids will have ipad cameras and will be able to use them in the classroom. I need to think about doing this effectively. This is pretty exciting stuff to me. My head is spinning!
3. Maybe I will want to take videos of students working collaboratively and show them to the class so we can have conversations and do some reflection.
4. All kinds of expository text can be created which is a big part of CCSS.

What are some of your ideas? Please join the conversation!
Read this chapter because it is full of great ideas. The author talks about using photography to build background which can be crucial for an English Language Learner. 
By the way, I love to print my pictures out. I don't just store them on my computer.
Just sayin'

Digital Divas: Any Great Apps?

I am just starting this book now and am loving it so much. If you are a primary teacher who wants to incorporate
more technology in your classroom in a developmentally appropriate way, this is a book that might be interesting. I am helping to set up a transitional kindergarten program in my district so this is a big concern for me since we will be getting i pads in the classrooms. Teachers will need to be trained on using these effectively with children and apps needed to be evaluated with care. Any great apps that you love for your students? I need to talk to my friend Cindy from the blog In the Teacher's Lounge so she can help guide my thinking! She looks at apps through a kindergarten teacher's lens. She even found an app for Pete the Cat!
What I'm thinking:
We will need to have specific rules for students to use these so they will survive the year!
Teachers will need to model appropriate use and introduce apps systematically
Kids will work with partners to use these
Teachers will need training since apps are being loaded on these for their use too!
This is new and exciting territory for me. I have an ipad and I love it with all my heart (seriously) so I am ready to build on what I already know.
If you are interested in reading along with others you can click here and follow the links to each teacher hosting a chapter. If you are learning about CCSS this is an important read. Technology will help prepare our students for 21st century learning. If you have any app suggestions bring it on!

Monday, June 18, 2012

No Summer Slide On My Watch

How long has it been since I offered a "freebie"? Okay do not respond to that because I have not been on top of my game for the last few weeks. So Day#1 of summer vacation I am offering up this little number. I hate when kids lose ground over the summer and the first grade teachers come looking for me! Just trying to preserve my reputation here! Sitting in front of a TV, playing video games, and just hanging out do not build academic capacity. I hope most kids have the opportunity to be in summer programs offered by their school district or teachers really suffer at the beginning of the school year. My first grade team is pretty awesome but summer slide stinks! So in their honor I am offering this little activity here. If you like it, follow me for more summer activities.I am off to Boot Camp! Oh yeah, if you love Kindergartencrayons you can vote today and I am sending you a big hug. Check the post below!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Can You Believe This?

Can you believe this? I am so excited to be a finalist for this huge award. What an incredible way for me to end a year full of drama and change. If you love this blog and it has helped you this year I would appreciate you voting here for it. Lots of wonderful blogs have been nominated and deserve recognition too! I hope your Father's Day was filled with family fun!

Writing With Pete Is More Fun!

I must confess. I had kids begging me for "Pete paper" for writing all year and I never created it in an organized fashion. I think Makda makes the cutest Pete writing at his desk and I just realized I could create monthly writing samples that teachers could keep under clothespins and add on to until the end of the year. I use to do this but in my room I had limited wall space and gave this up. Don't make the same mistake. Administrators love to come in and look at these throughout the year and see the progress individual kids have made. In kindergarten the changes can be enormous and the kids get a kick out of seeing their own growth. On each page is the name of the month (slamming in that calendar work), a frame for drawing in (we now know how crucial this piece is to the writing process),  a primary line for their writing, and a space for their name. I love seeing how their signature matures over the year. Pete is just the "theme" I used to motivate young writing to keep on trying. I have a seasonal icon on each page too but nothing that is related to religious holidays. On the final page is a writing award to give each student in your class to celebrate their hard work. I will post this in my store today. I hope this is something you can use in the fall!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What am I working on today?

My kids would have loved this but I never got a chance to create these during the school year so I am working on them now. Each month I have a Pete image of some kind and some lines for the kids to write something for that month. It is super simple stuff but just right for our little ones. I started with August because that's when my district goes back to school. This would make creating a writing portfolio easy for the busy teacher. More about this soon...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Goodbye Kinder Friends

How cute is this? I had one retention this year and I did not want to give out a standard diploma so I came up with this idea. The kids were so thrilled that I used Pete. Cute-huh? Yesterday was my final day with students and I only lost it about 30 times. Parents of old students stopped in to say goodbye so it was a really emotional time for me. What else is new? Now I pack up the remains and get ready to move.  It's all good.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Beautiful Buddy Books

When I was packing over the weekend I found one billion of these notebooks in various closets around my room. I was not about to pack them up and take all of them with me to my next position and I really did not want to take them home. Why do I have such an overload of these? Well, let me be honest. They were on sale for 10 cents in the fall and I went crazy. My partner and I bought as many as we could find and these are just the leftovers. Don't judge me. Remember when you were at Staples for those penny sales?  Admit it. I have no control in these situations but I found a great use for these. We busted them out of closet #1 (okay they are also in #2 and #3) and the mommies in my room glued a white square on top of each. The kids decided to make a summer journal for their 5th grade buddy and what you see on the cover is their self portrait. I L*O*V*E these so much that it makes me want to cry. Okay, so everything makes me cry. I am fragile and distraught at this point! They loved making them and they wrote sweet notes inside. Boy when the fifth grade teacher sees their handwriting she is going to head towards her classroom. I'm just sayin' I should have had Saturday school and worked on handwriting- big time. Whew, some of it is really rough... Anyhow they are super duper cute and we are giving them to our buddies tomorrow. I wish I had glued their pictures on the first page but those are packed away in a box I can cry over another time. I am going to sign each book with a thank you and congratulations on going to middle school. I had a lot of these kids in kindergarten. The rest of the notebooks are for my teacher friends next door and they are happy to grab the goods.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

You Will Never Believe This!

So let me tell you about my Friday. My favorite parent volunteer asked me if a few parents could come in to speak to me right before I started class. I told her that would be fine and my radar did not even go off. I am way too anxious and self focused for that. I bring the kids in the room and sit down and she comes marching in with most of  the families from my class. I am flabbergasted but still clueless. Then she tells me to sit down because she has something to say. She makes this beautiful speech about me and naturally I start to lose it right in front of the kids. She hands me these orchids and card and I am speechless. They are spectacular and I read this card out loud and was filled with emotion. I was choking.  Inside was a gift card to a restaurant and I am thinking to myself that this was too much for them to spend on me. Okay, so she finished her speech and everyone is flashing their cameras at me  and I am so touched. Naturally I think we are done and I tell the parents how much I will miss them, the school, my partner, blah, blah and this parent tells me to sit down. She's not done. So I do what I am told. 

She hands me a small box and I can't believe there is more to open. I can barely breathe from all the emotions I am feeling but I do not want to make a total scene in front of my kids so I work at keeping it together. This is what was in the box. I was shocked out of my mind and overwhelmed.  Now I know we are done but she tells me no and to sit down for more.

I think we are done and she tells me no and the parents start laughing!

This is so over the top that I have no words.

Just so you understand, I work in a Title I school. I took time to live in the moment.  I looked around at my last group of parents and just tried to take it all in. The smiling faces of the children and the love and sacrifice of these parents will be burned in my memory forever.  I am blessed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Is It True Mrs. Kramer?

I never want to pack another box again. Do you know what this looks like after fifteen years in one place? What a challenge! On top of this as I move through the last few weeks (an emotional train wreck) parents are stopping me and asking me if it's really true that I am leaving. I am just a hot mess (as my friend Crystal likes to say) and can barely tolerate all the emotions pumping through me. I am exhausted, anxious, excited, sad, ... did I leave anything out? I am heading for the job of my dreams and will be working with a dear friend. It's just the journey I am on to get there! Wow! I need some help with all this drama. Now lets mention my parent volunteers. These are two women that came every, single day this year and never complained about the crazy teachers who gave them hundreds of jobs that required  tedious attention to detail and were so demanding that I would have quit on day #2. I am not even kidding. I love them so much that I don't know how to talk about it. They loved me, the kids, and helped the parents who were not always on board with what I wanted! How do I say goodbye to them? They handled so much with a smile and never let my crazy behavior irritate them. They deserve an award. They need a vacation.
Now what do I buy for them?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Are you coming to Vegas?

I am so overwhelmed with work that I haven't even mentioned this huge event in my life. I am presenting at the I Teach K conference in Vegas this summer. I have not even had time to think about this  and I am so excited to be attending. I hope lots of you are able to come. I'll be there for the entire time and I can't wait to go to learn from the experts on CCSS, new technologies, and other things that will make me smarter!
 My presentation is on the value of teacher blogs and why you should follow them. I have a lot of ideas on blogging and  you can hear about my journey (yawn) through Blogland. Seriously, it should be fun because I am loud and silly. 
It's on Wednesday morning so I hope you are willing to roll out of bed, grab your coffee and come meet me. I am super excited to see you in person. (Yup, that is me screaming with happiness.) School will be OUT and I can be relaxed and more human. Just sayin'
Are you in? 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Please use your words and solve your own problem...

How many times have you suggested this to the kindergarten students in your class? I have children that would sit  and never let me know that they needed a pencil. I hate when children suffer quietly or at the beginning of the year sob over a problem because they do not have the words to express their needs. How do you deal with this in your room? My friend Alma suggested to me that they need "powerful words" that would enable them to solve their own problems so you do not have to constantly deal with small classroom issues during instructional time. We all know how those "little" issues can consume your day and destroy your patience. Am I the only one who is worn out by: "He's being mean to me.", He's walking up the slide.:, or "They won't let me play ." The list goes on forever. These are some of the cards I created for our teachers to use in the classroom to help our little ones learn to express themselves and treat each other respectfully. This next card was Belinda's idea (my go to person for great kinder ideas) and I L*O*V*E her suggestion: 

You have to hear a five year old saying this to another child. It sounds hilarious. Some of the teachers told me they wanted to use these cards and make a big book about manners. I have other cards but here are some of my favorites. What do you use at the beginning of the year? 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Kinder Teachers: Grab This for Next Year

Here is the freebie I promised all of you. Thank you for all the sweet words of encouragement. I can always count on teachers to be there for me. Anyhow I want you to have this assessment for your files. Put the grades on the front cover and I recommend making a packet out of this if you are using it for assessment purposes. The final page is know as response to literature and I love to see what they write and draw. I like putting the rubric on the paper and going over it with my students so they get immediate feedback. It makes this process simple!
What do you think? Any other ideas? Grab it here.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What is going on with Fran?

Are you going through any changes next year? Is anyone else leaving kindergarten for other jobs or grades? Too bad. Kindergarten rocks! It is the best grade ever. Just saying...

Seeking Painless Assessments for 5 Year Olds

I am trying to finish up my report cards this weekend and I thought you might like seeing the assessment packet I created to come up with grades on a section of ELA.This seems fairly painless. As I called kids over to retell the story of the 3 little pigs, the other children worked on these pages and enjoyed doing it because it was well within their skill range. No, we did not have to bubble in answers on a standardized test and I still have not been hit with timing children when decoding. Seriously? Have these test designers met a five year old, ever? I hope with CCSS we gain some common sense about young children and do more valid assessment work. The kids loved doing this because they could draw their thinking first. I like to put the rubric right on the page for the kids to see as I check it off. This gives me an opportunity to remind them of what they need to work on. No fuss...
I don't know about you but I hate the piles of assessment that never tell me anything I don't already know!