Wednesday, January 30, 2013

February Is Emerging and Bursting With Love

Here is a sample of some of the goodies I have created for the month of February. The valentine packet makes setting up math and literacy stations a breeze and is well aligned to the Common Core. At this time of the year I am looking ahead and doing whatever it takes to teach those letters, sounds, and sight words. I want my students to read with some fluency so these emergent readers have really helped to get them there. From all I have read about Common Core the focus is on reading both literature and non fiction. Students need plenty of opportunities for practice and these readers can go home in a literacy bag. Some of our kiddos do not have books at home so we need to provide them. 

We all know that we need to be reading more informational text to our young learners (Common Core protocol)  and these two readers provide you with that opportunity. There are plenty of books on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln but I love giving students books they can practice at school with a partner, and take home to proudly read to their family. I love these graphics because they are so simple. Take this opportunity to do guided drawings with these cute images from Scrappin Doodles.  Last year I got adorable results.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Guess Who I Met At The California Kindergarten Conference?

No blogging this weekend. This Orange County teacher ripped out of work on Friday night to catch a plane for San Francisco to fill her brain with important TK information at the California Kindergarten Conference. It is held every year in Santa Clara California.

I did this all last minute since I told myself I wasn't going this year since I had left the classroom. Baloney! I could not resist being around a billion TK, Kindergarten and First Grade teachers who might give me one more idea that I could nail in someone's classroom. 
I finally get to the hotel, check in on my iphone (loving that convenience) and grab some sleep before the weekend begins. 
I get up early and head for some coffee and fruit, ready to fill my brain with information and hoping I see a familiar face. I do what any teacher worth her salt would do... head for the vendors! I cruise around and say hello to lots of familiar faces, including Kaye Espinoza and the ladies at Kinderlit. There is nothing to buy cause I own all of their stuff. However, I forced it down the throats of innocent, young teachers standing by
( poor things). I need to learn to contain my enthusiasm! 
I grab my registration packet and put all my tickets inside my badge and head for the keynote speaker who I adore. Her name is Peggy Campbell Rush and I laughed until I cried. She is smart, hilarious, and very familiar with the world of kindergarten. I have lots of her books but I bought 2 more to take back to my teachers.
As I am racing to the next class I run into a blogger friend that I love, Camille. It feels so good to see a familiar face and she has her whole team with her! If you do not not know this teacher check out her blog right here. Camille is a real love and I adore spending time with her. She is teaching a K-1 combination this year and she should be receiving an award for this.What a challenge! We forgot to take a picture but please go over and say hello because she is that teacher who knows how to listen and build your confidence. It was a joy to spend time with her and catch up on our crazy lives.Thanks Camille for hanging with me!

My Photo

I go back to the vendors the next day and stop to give Heidi a quick hug because she is so darn busy that she has no time to talk to me. I force her too... I swear. We chat for a few seconds and she tells me that she has a new blending CD that teachers are loving. OMG. I would grab this if it is anything like her other stuff! She is awesome and the answer to a kindergarten teacher's prayers.Her blog is Heidi Songs. Look around at her products and see what she has to offer. 
From there I walk over to Ron and Nancy Brown who I have seen many times throughout the years when this cutie jumps out from behind the table and introduces herself to me as Kelley Dolling. Once she tells me her name I slowly realize ( keep quiet- you will be old one day too) that she is the blogger who owns one of my favorite sites, Teacher Idea Factory. I know I stared at her like I was insane but I could not get past the fact that her parents were Ron and Nancy Brown. I stuttered, I mumbled, and I had to clarify it 100 times. Seriously? So this young teacher is like the daughter of James Taylor and Carly Simon? Seriously? Is this a joke? Nope. I love her parents to pieces and this is their daughter! OMG. We became instant friends and I fell in love with this energetic, fun-loving, smart first grade teacher. We got in everyone's way as we talked about blogging, teaching and all the California bloggers we hung out with. It was the best part of my day! Here is a picture of Kelley with her parents. How cute is this family!

Now you know who I am talking about.Yup, I am the only stupid person in the room. Ron has a song for absolutely everything you can imagine.Check out his work right here.Okay I know I am babbling on this post but stick with me for a little longer. So... I go to some classes and it is the end of the day and I know I signed up for Kelley's class but did I check to see if I got it? That would be a big, fat no. I realize I am assigned to a TK class and I freak out. I go over to the "change your ticket lady" and tell her I will die without this class and give her this long, irrational reason why I am going in no matter what. She looks at me with her kind, friendly smile and tells me to calm down and here is the right ticket. Whew... I stopped babbling, ripped it out of her hands and head for my blogger friend's room.  Here is a sample of what went on:

She was amazing. Honestly peeps, she has parents that are very present in her life but at the end of this session I felt like a proud Mama to see another talented blogger knock it out of the park. She had a fantastic presentation, full of useful content, and lots of freebies from her blogging friends. She gave away  tons of CDs from her dad and created packets filled with ideas. FANTASTIC. I love you Kelley! 

Who is going with me next year? Who wants to present?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Come Over To My Blog For A MLK Freebie

Do you need something to help you celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday? How about making a special necklace that is quick and easy. The directions are in this little packet and will add some fun to this important national holiday. It's a freebie and we all love free- right? Click here for this. Don't forget to grab the emergent reader I created entitled, What Is Your Dream? The link is on the post just below this one. If you like the freebie please leave a comment and I hope your students like the bling!
These graphics are from Melonheadz Illustrations and she did the most incredible job. The other graphics belong to There is so much talent out there... Now go teach about this great leader.

Another Look At Martin Luther King

Check out these readers I have created to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday. After reading some of the books that are readily available this makes a nice follow up for students to read. The focus is on the goals students can set for the new year. I have not used these in my classroom but I am definitely going to try it out in the coming week. This is such a nice way to encourage students to set goals for themselves and work hard just like Dr. King. One page has an empty frame which allows students to draw something they hope to accomplish by the end of the year. This is in Teachers Notebook for now because I am having trouble with TpT. I will keep trying and hopefully it will show me some love and upload later. So what is your dream?
Click on Dr. King to purchase these for just $4.00.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Who loves super sized books?

I finally made these! I am so excited because I love anything that is easy to put together and won't require a lot of my time. This is such a simple way to make Big Books for your classroom!

How? The trick is to use 8 1/2"X 14" paper. Most school have this readily available and if not you can purchase it for a reasonable price in any office supply store. What makes this size so ideal? You can adjust any printer tray to accommodate this with very little effort. This size can also be used in any home laminator and the pouches can be purchased on Amazon. They are already in color and match the student version of sparkle readers (set #6). Now you can introduce these readers with a Big Book and students will already be familiar with the text. I will be making these for all the other sets if teachers are interested. I cannot wait to bring these to school for my kindergarten friends. I love anything super sized so everyone can see the pictures and text! If you are interested you can purchase these by clicking on this button:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Finally... Sparkle Readers #6 Are Here

These are my newest Sparkle Readers and they took forever for me to make. I really thought about what kindergarten children need to focus on at this time of the year but I still needed to keep the text simple enough for them to be challenged but successful. We all know how difficult that can be. I also wanted to be careful to sustain a Common Core focus and I think I pulled it off with this set.
There are 4 titles in this set:
This Is A New Year
Winter Teens
This Is The Arctic
This Is Winter
Along with each sparkle reader is a full set of pocket chart sentence builders to teach it whole group or use as part of a literacy station once your students have interacted enough with the text.
I took the text up a notch by giving students two lines to read but I made the second line repetitive. I have content across many areas of the curriculum and the books are very interactive. This is my favorite set and I cannot wait to introduce them to my kindergarten friends so they can use them for their winter theme. The Common Core stresses that we need to challenge (not frustrate) our children with more complex text so I worked hard to create books that met this criteria. Do you need to add some sparkle to your reading program?  Click on this button to go to my store:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Tour of Books on Common Core

Where has the time gone? I have been out of town visiting my New York daughter and after a week of shopping, eating, visiting, coffee drinking, walking, freezing, baking and just plain old hanging out with her, I am back in warm southern California. We had an amazing time together and I have lots of memories to help me through the months when I don't see her. One of her friends came into her apartment for a visit, saw me first, and said OMG because the resemblance is pretty strong. She is just a younger, prettier version of me! It's always a source of entertainment to me to see that when I hold parent conferences and I have not met a parent previously. You know exactly what I mean!
So we are on to 2013 and at this time of the year I always like to reflect on the future and set some personal as well as professional goals that will drive my thinking as I move forward to the second half of the school year. What are your goals? What would you like to accomplish with your students? Are you willing to try new strategies? Is there some professional reading your are determined to do? What workshops are you going to attend? Do you have a conference you will attend that will offer up some new ideas? What technology skills are you determined to master?
With the new Common Core standards I have tons of professional reading to do and will try to find time in my schedule to do this. Here are some of the books I have purchased that look amazing:

How many of you have heard of Timothy Shanahan? If not, please check out his blog if you want to have a deeper understanding of CCSS. He is a distinguished professor as well as the Director of the Center for Literacy for the University of Illinois. His credentials are amazing and he has much to say about the Common Core S tandards that is worth reading. You can find his blog here and I hope you sign up for the thoughtful and interesting newsletter he sends out. Look at what he says about "The Daily Five" which has made me stop and think about how we are teaching our students. Clearly he is an expert on literacy and has sharpened my understandings of terms such as "close read", complex text, and text based questioning. I am anxious to read his book because he is so deeply respected. Check it out and do not tell anyone I suggested you spend a million dollars on PD!

With Common Core we are being asked to have our students use a more collaborative model for learning material and to me the books that build capacity for this are those written by Spencer Kagan. If you are an older teacher this should be a very familiar name to you but he has updated his material and I really love a lot of his classroom management ideas and structures. Many of you are already using them in your classroom but do not realize they are his. Have you heard of "Think, Pair, Share", or "Lines of Communication?" I recently bought his primary books because I think collaborative work is far more challenging to do with our youngest students and needs to be carefully planned out. I have found this out from hard core experience! So if your district is pressuring you to have students work collaboratively and this scares the pants off of you- check out his website here and see what you think. Some of his books are also available on Amazon.

Have you heard of this website and are you familiar with the books and information they offer their readers?
If not, I highly recommend it. You can read about this research based program that focuses on building social skills, community in the classroom, classroom management, etc. which leads to academic achievement. There is a website here and a blog. Take time to look around since it is loaded with great information. Remember to sign up for their newsletter.
I think I better stop here because I feel sure that I have overwhelmed you. If you have gotten all the way to the end of this post you are a total rock star! 
Happy New Year! Go out and teach like your hair is on fire!