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Monday, July 30, 2012

Love Your Ipad: We Are In A Digital Age of Learning

Do you have ipads in your classroom yet? Ipads are changing the face of American education and our Transitional Kindergartens are getting ten of these in each classroom. Woohoo for my school district! I am so excited but with this comes the "old school" thinking. How am I going to use them effectively? How will I build in systems so that kindergarten students handle them carefully and use them effectively. I am not interested in letting everyone do their own thing. I want to use this technology in a purposeful way. So I have been taking a lot of training and everyone offers up different app suggestions. Some are free and some are a few dollars. I hear a little voice in my head saying,  "Hummm I can handle 99cents." Then a buzzard went off in my head. I bet parents would be happy to support this habit and it would only cost a dollar! You could have an app fund raiser or even suggest donations at your Back to School night. Parents really want to help and this is such an easy way to make a difference in a classroom. Imagine how kids would feel when you thanked them for the app their parents bought for the classroom. Your wish list can look a little different this year. My school had Jeans Day once a month this year (we are a uniform only school)  and students had to bring a dollar for this. Everyone participated enthusiastically  and our PTA raised all kinds of money for things needed. It's just a thought... How do you manage ipads in your room? I need all the help I can get!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tag... You're It! The Art of Making Name Tags

School is just around the corner and I love using these name tags in my classroom. These are easy to make and the children think they are so special. I am not a fan of the standard name tag made with soft yarn since my students often chew on them or twist the cord around until I am fearful that they will cut off their circulation!
Right? Kinder teachers know exactly what I mean. 

These tags can be purchased in Walmart and the clips are sold separately. I use it as a learning tool in the beginning making all the vowels in red. I put a pocket chart outside of my classroom with these tags and the parents put them on their own children, avoiding any mistakes when you are meeting a shy child ( or crying student) on the first day. You could even send these in the mail with your welcome letter! 

Notice that each tag has a small icon under it. Many of our students come to school without being able to recognize their own name. The icon under their name serves as a scaffold to help them remember which card belongs to them. After the first few days I play all kinds of games with these tags to build their letter knowledge and to help them recognize and write their name. I am giving you a set for your classroom and this is a special gift for those of you teaching transitional kindergarten! Click here if you want these and please be sure to follow me for more freebies. Do you have a better name tag idea? I hope you will share your ideas! 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

New Beginnings In Transitional Kindergarten

Transitional Kindergarten is coming to California this fall and many of us will have these young learners in our classroom and will need to meet their needs effectively. Often the students I serve have not been to pre-school and will need many opportunities to learn the letters of the alphabet, upper and lowercase. This packet provides pocket chart activities to help students build their proficiency. In addition, I made cut and paste letter sorts that are simple to use during small group instruction but can eventually be released and used as a literacy work station.There is a bit of handwriting practice provided too. It's just enough to hold the interest of a young student. I like to keep things super simple. That's how I roll... This can be purchased in my TpT store here. I can't wait to share this with my TK and Kindergarten friends.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Common Core Is A Journey...

I just came back from a week of common core training and my brain might be broken from using it so much. I am exhausted but ready to do a lot more reading on this and exploration under our district leadership. I stayed in a gorgeous hotel in Palm Desert and got a chance to bond with some of my district friends. We went to all the classes ( yup we are super goodies) that were offered and even got a new ipad. Yes, you read that correctly. That was a huge perk that still blows me away! The conference had tons of teckies to offer support and I learned a ton of new tricks that were pretty exciting to me! Who knew about the four finger swipe? Not me! So now I am home after two weeks of hotel life where all meals were provided and I could forget about real life as I know it. Let's not even talk about the laundry. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Getting To the Core of the Matter...

Teachers love having their name on their stuff. If you don't go to the effort things tend to disappear-right? I bet I've lost a book or two but oh well. Anyhow, I just got back from Vegas and now I am packing up again to head for Palm Springs for a common core training. So I needed to pump myself up for this and I decided to do it by getting into a crafty mood. The cover for my binder is no biggy but I run it on photo paper so the color is gorgeous. Now here is where I lost my mind. I decided to personalize my paper and add some cute graphics. How cute is this? I just ran it through the printer and changed out the design a few times. Nothing to it! Finally, I made my own notepad which I think is adorable. It is so simple to do. Now I can face the week with all my new stuff. I never got over the whole school supply obsession. What do you do to personalize your classroom stuff. We all do labels and lots of bloggers offer them up as freebies!
Deanna Jump does the most amazing job of this in her classroom. She presented a workshop on Organization and  Ijust want her to come to stay with me for a week and straighten me out. She is a powerhouse at this!
I will go through the steps to make a notepad soon. HAPPY SUNDAY!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Final Chapter of Sin City

Here are my final pictures that you have already seen on other sites but just in case... Meanwhile, Cindy is not in these and I am so upset because she is a great teacher and blogger.We had lunch together and I loved being with her.  Her blog is For the Love of Kindergarten and sweet Michelle from Apples and ABC's.

Okay I am married to a man who takes huge pride in his wife's small achievements and thinks I am the best thing since peanut butter. So, he took all these pictures and a million more but I cannot bear to put them up. Check out the picture where I am presenting and look at the lady standing. I think she wanted to bolt out of the room but I am sure my husband blocked her at the door. I am not even kidding. If you attended my session I cannot thank you enough for supporting me. It meant so much to me. My friend Meredith came from my district, Kim and Megan from Kindergals, Crystal from Kreative in Kinder, Michelle from Apples and ABC's, my friend Valentina with her whole kinder team , and I was too nervous to notice anyone else-sorry. Michelle even brought me coffee to keep me calm and I love her for trying to keep me glued together. I woke up with a killer headache and could not believe how anxious I was. I woke the hubs up so I wouldn't have to suffer alone. We set the room up by 7:00, the Tech Guy from SDE came to make adjustments, and the hubs undid his work and did it his way. Gotta love the man's confidence. I thought I was going to die. Then I assumed no one was going to come at this ridiculous hour but much to my surprise ... some people came in. The hubs was pumped with pride!
I babbled on and on and paced it all wrong. There was no clock in the room and I never finished the slides. It was pretty embarrassing so I jammed through to get to the end. Sorry you guys. If there is ever a next time I will try not to run out of time. Thank goodness I survived! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

What Happened In Vegas Will Stay In My Heart Forever...Part3

You thought I was finished with this and maybe I would post about getting ready for school. Sorry. I have more pictures and the story continues...
Are you wondering who the party planners for this gala were? Rachelle Smith put this into place and made it happen. There were well over 100 women in the room and fabulous prizes for everyone. We told her to make sure this becomes an annual event. I love this lady. She is the whole package, smart and beautiful. Thank you Rachelle for providing a night to remember forever.

Here are the Kindergals. Now you can see the powerhouse mother daughter team. They are great women.

Crystal invited me to go to dinner with her and it turned into a six hour event! She brought these two friends who are amazing kindergarten teachers. I fell in love with both of them. They are full of energy and passion for their
job. Who thinks teachers aren't committed?  These ladies are superstars in the world of teaching and I had a great time in their company.

What Happened In Vegas Will Stay In My Heart Forever...Part2

At the end of Vanessa's session I literally run into Heidi as I am ready to leave. I love and respect this lady so much and it was so fantastic to see her! I really wanted to chat but had to get to the next class. Elizabeth is a teacher who recognized us both and begged for a picture so we were happy to do that. Who doesn't love fans?
Later that day I met up with other bloggers for lunch. So in addition to the others, I finally  met THE Chrystal from Kreative In Kinder which made my trip worthwhile. Seriously, we became instant BFF's and yes she is hilarious to talk to. In addition, she is smart, generous, and so committed to her job and family. This lady is the real deal and I hope our friendship is a forever one. She only stayed a few days but she came to my presentation to support me (like she needs to learn about blogging) and it meant so much to me. Check out her blog but I am sure you are always on there. It is fantastic. The girl can write the best personal narratives!
Are you getting bored with this? Sorry, but I promised you a story so grab another cup of coffee or go take a break cause you know how I am.
Rachelle Smith (insert super hugs and love for this girl)  and I texted each other so we could meet up for lunch and who do you think she brought with her? Anyone ever heard of Deanna Jump? Yup, I finally got to meet this beautiful southern belle and she was so much fun to be with. We talked about being train wrecks because we were presenting later in the week (loved dumping my anxieties) but we also talked about teaching and our families. She is the kindest, sweetest person you could meet. Deanna is modest but she has such a passion for teaching and life in general. I was blessed to spend time with her. I hope I see more of her in the future.
Here is a picture we took after one of Kim Adsit's fabulous presentations on Interactive Writing. She is amazing and so funny. Why do I love Kimmy so much? She is super smart but she is honest and real about teaching and life in general. I love being with her.She is a gifted educator. I wish she lived much closer to me. Her daughter Megan is pretty special too! Last year I never left her room but this year I HAD TO. She shares a blog with Megan and it is full of  important content so get over there and read, read, read...I am sure you are quite familiar with Kindergals.

Have you had enough? Too bad. The laundry is out of control and half my plants are dead (bless the husband) so I have to take a break. I haven't even gotten to my presentation so hold on...

What Happened In Vegas Will Stay In My Heart Forever...

I made it to the I Teach K conference in Vegas and filled my week with memories that will last me a lifetime. So much happened and I will have to blog about it over several days. I am still trying to wrap my head around the amazing time I had and friends I made. I love my peeps so much!
 My husband insisted I leave Sunday night so that I could get up early on Monday and not miss a single session. The hotel was enormous and I needed a navigator to find my way around. I met the SDE people who gave my presenter packet and all the information I needed. Insert major anxiety as reality started to sink in.  Okay my stomach got a little queasy but I put on my best smile and tried to act intelligent. I don't think I slept too well that night but I could not wait to meet other bloggers the next day! Would I recognize anyone in the crowd? I decided, like all kinder teachers, to grab coffee ( a small fortune in Vegasville) and head for  the exhibits. Guess who I found? This beautiful celebrity, the owner of TLC- Kaye Espinosa. It was like seeing a friendly face in a foreign country. Here she is with me and she tried to reassure the crazy babbling idiot that I had turned into.  She is so calm and sensible. But she got busy because everyone loves her books and she had to work. So I took this picture and said goodbye.
Time for classes...

Deedee Wills from Mrs. Will's Kindergarten ran into me on my way out the door along with these other amazing bloggers. She was with Cheryl from Primary Graffiti, Kathleen from Growing Kinders, She asked me if I knew who she was. Was she kidding? Of course!  We took this picture right in front of Kaye's booth. It was a blast to meet and chat. They are beautiful, intelligent women. I loved spending time with them.  Later I took a class on Nursery Rhymes with Vanessa Levin from the blog Pre-K Pages and she was such a great presenter. She has such an important perspective on young children and I really got a lot out of her class. I loved HER and we got a chance to chat for a few minutes afterwards. This lady is on top of her game! We hugged and parted because other teachers were dying to talk to her.
More to come tomorrow... good night!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

All My Bags Are Packed

Remember that song? Okay most of you were not even born when this song was popular (LOL). Yup, tomorrow I am flying out of California and heading for Vegas! Woohoo! The day has finally come and I am packed up and ready to go! Do ya think I'm excited enough? I feel like I am going to the Oscars to meet the stars. But they are the stars in my world- right? On Wednesday I am doing a presentation in the morning on why every teacher should follow our blogs and the value of doing this. It starts at 8:00 so I am not expecting a big group. Oh well. Once that is over I am taking so many fabulous classes that I brought two notebooks instead of one. I can't wait to hug all my blogging friends in person! It will be a week I will never forget! I even have friends from my district coming! They know I need them there. The hubs is coming for tech support and emotional support since I am a bit of a train wreck about the whole presentation thing. We won't focus on that right now. If you can't come this year than maybe next. I will share all the details when I return. Look out kinder teachers... here I come!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fishing Is Great Fun!

Teaching Blog Addict is having a fabulous blog hop today so if you feeling  like a frog -get going and grab a million freebies to put in your files as those lazy summer days slide away (yup, that is me sobbing). So keep your chin up and let some blogging buddies make your life easier. All you need to do is hit the download button and then you can head back to the pool with the kids.However, if you need more freebies you can link up to billions of them over at Crystal's blog Kreative in Kinder. She had this fabulous idea (brainiac girl) and is hosting this party. Come in costume cause it's a Wizard of Oz theme.
Guess what... I get to meet her at the I Teach K Conference in a few days. I cannot wait to hug this lady! I am taking pictures to document this moment! Happy Hopping!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Do you know this trick?

Okay, I have to ask you if you know this trick. You probably do but for the two people out there who have never heard of this - listen up! You can take food coloring, dilute it with water and have your students sponge paint anything you want. It looks adorable in a little guided reader or I do it  as background for a special piece of writing they have created. It makes any piece look special and hides a multitude of sins! Now if you need to take it up a notch (and most of you do) you can color with twistables and add this like a resist. It has a soft, natural effect but just a little goes a long way. Use sponges and put a clothespin on the end so students do not walk around all day with blue hands. It's not that cute when they are eating lunch. So if you are not a fan of watercolors this is a little easier. The sponge needs to be blotted off using a paper towel before it hits the paper. It tends to absorb too much water so be careful. I like mixing colors too! The beach book is in my store already and the animals in the sea is part of a packet I am putting together. Do you know any easy peasy tricks for making kid work look special?