Always shine by using all your talents and skills!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Scholastic's Update to Match Common Core Recommendations

Happy Wonderful Wednesday!  How are you doing with tackling the Common Core State Standards?  On the spectrum of a novice to an expert, where are you?  Me, I am still understanding the expectations and this year will we be our pilot year for us as we implement the Standards!
To my surprise, the Common Core's Lexile Level and Guided Reading Level recommendations has effected what my Multi-agers will be expected to reach before the end of the year!  Up until now, it has been level M for 2nd Grade.   Level N is now recommended from Common Core's.  Kindergarten (which I do not teach and haven't) is now level C!  What are your thoughts and opinions about the new expectations?  Do most of your students currently reach the new recommendations by Common Core? Are you revisiting the resources you use for literacy?  Have you bought any new texts, books, etc to meet the Common Core State Standards?  Let me know your thoughts!  Here is Scholastic's new chart:  Click Here

50 Fantastic Followers! THANK YOU!

Hooray and celebrate!  I have reached 50 followers!  THANK YOU LADIES!  I am encouraged by all of your fantastic and creative blogs and your inspiring and educational posts!  Hopefully, I can reach 100 by Christmas!  "All I want for Christmas is 100 followers, etc."  (side note-I truly know and deeply understand the TRUE meaning of Christmas...).  Thanks again!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Laugh Out Loud-Poetry Fun!!

Last year I started Poetry Notebooks!  My 2nd Graders absolutely loved them!  Tongue Twisters, surprise ending poems, and poems full of alliteration were always favorites and re-read several times!   Many of them would use DIRT (Daily Independent Reading Time-aka Read to Self) with their Poetry Notebooks or use them to read to a partner. We would chorally read the poems, read them in groups (of various kinds), read them in stanzas, lines, and of course, change our voice, inflictions, tone, and pacing!  Our highlighters would also become a staple when reading poems because we would mark certain parts of speech, surprising parts, sections that we could connect to, etc.  With the success of last year's Poetry Notebooks, I cannot wait to begin to share and create poems with my Multi-agers.

Here are two poems from one of my favorite poems from the one and only and hilarious Ken Nisbitt

First One:

A Funny School Poem for Kids
"Dear students, the summer has ended.
The school year at last has begun.
But this year is totally different.
I promise we'll only have fun.

"We won't study any mathematics,
and recess will last all day long.
Instead of the pledge of allegiance,
we'll belt out a rock-and-roll song.

"We'll only play games in the classroom.
You're welcome to bring in your toys.
It's okay to run in the hallways.
It's great if you make lots of noise.

"For homework, you'll play your Nintendo.
You'll have to watch lots of T.V.
For field trips we'll go to the movies
and get lots of candy for free.

"The lunchroom will only serve chocolate
and triple fudge sundaes supreme."
Yes, that's what I heard from my teacher
before I woke up from my dream.

Second One:

I'm Staying Home From School Today
I'm staying home from school today.
I'd rather be in bed
pretending that I have a pain
that's pounding in my head.

I'll say I have a stomach ache.
I'll claim I've got the flu.
I'll shiver like I'm cold
and hold my breath until I'm blue.

I'll fake a cough. I'll fake a sneeze.
I'll say my throat is sore.
If necessary I can throw
a tantrum on the floor.

I'm sure I'll get away with it.
Of that, there's little doubt.
But, even so, I really hope
my students don't find out.
--Kenn Nesbitt
Here is Mr. Nesbitt's website in case you would like to discover some of your favorites and laugh out loud with your students: Click Here

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My First Multi-Age 1-2 Schedule


Wow, how can it be 8:02 pm on Sunday night?  Are you as amazed as I am?
I thought I share my Multi-Age 1-2 schedule with you.  Please note, it is tentative!  I hope I don't have to revise it too many times!  I know for sure I will wait a week before posting it to my website!
I always wish there was more time to slot additional curriculum minutes in, but I'm definitely thankful for what I am given and have!   Click here for my schedule

Are you pleased with yours? If your principal offered you the opportunity to make the optimal schedule (of course meeting all the curriculum minutes), what would it look like?  Would you add something or delete a scheduled time for a certain program you do because it is mandated?  Let me know your thoughts!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Common Core Math Folders

It's FRIDAY!!!!  The sun seems to have left my little village; is it by you?
Yesterday, I put a dent in my Common Core Math Resources (ok, a little dent).
I have decided to have math folders this year.  In the folder will be laminated resources that my Multi-agers will use for whole group activities, partner games, independent work, or for team building activities.  Because I use manipulatives, hands-on items, and mats, I wanted to save my self at least some trips going to the closet to get the laminated non-consumable mats.  I am going to put the folders in a tray on my math shelf so they are accessible and an arm's length away.  Here are a few of the resources I am going to put in the folder.

1-120 Chart, Hundred/Ten/One Chart, Ten Frame
Number Line, Fact Families-I am going to use to show Commutative Property too!
Money Spinner, Clocks, Graphing Ma
When It is completely finished, I will share more photos.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Promote for Multi-age 1-2 Shirt

Happy Wednesday! (night).  I am just about ready for Drop Off Supplies Day!  On August 29th from 2:00-5:00 parents can drop off their child's school supplies, visit the room, and meet me!  HOORAY for me!  I'm super excited to be have 17 wonderful families.  All but 4 of my student families have visited my and hung out in my classroom before ( I have had taught their siblings).

This year, it will be the first year that I have parents drop off their supplies in a Multi-age 1-2 classroom!  (I'm still getting used to saying I am a Mulit-age 1-2 teacher-after 10.5 years of teaching 2nd, my brain is almost programmed to say that).  Due to the fact that a Multi-age classroom stirs up an array of questions, has many jump to certain assertions, and that is a milestone at our school, I decided to decorate a shirt to wear on the 29th. I painted key words about Multi-age classrooms on it (mentor, share, cooperate, lead, collaborate, support, etc).   HERE IT IS:


If you did not have you Open House or Welcome to _____ Grade Day, have you ever worn a grade tailored hat, shirt, or something similar?  I thought maybe I would design a hat with our names on it?  Now, if time wasn't a factor!\


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Search for the Toothpaste Activity and Donalyn Miller

Tuesday is here!  Officially in two weeks we start!  Have you started setting your alarm to get your body use to that early rise and shine time?  (that is if you already are not back to the best job occupation in the world) 
 So I started typing my lesson plans and got to the famous Toothpaste Activity.  I have not tried this activity, but came close last year...but that time factor got in the way.  So, I Googled Toothpaste activity and the first hit was: Team Building .  THANK YOU Southern District!
EUREKA even more Icebreakers and Team Building activities!  My folder is exceeding is capacity!
The last activity is the Toothpaste activity.  I have seen this version.  I might tweak it a tad to fit the skills of my students.  It would be a riot to see how they would use the Toothpaste to outline the word they print.  HA HA!!!  Perhaps I should try this at home first!
As far as the rest, I now need to pick out the ones that are best suited, applicable, and purposeful to my Multi-agers!  If you try any, let me know how they go!

Yesterday, I finished reading The Book Whisperer for the second time!  It was even better than the first read-I'm not sure how that could be because I thought I eared, highlighted, and eared everything I could.  Perhaps, I connected more with what Donalyn was saying and tied my experiences to hers!
I leave you with a quote from one of my all time professional reads:
 "The purpose of school should not be to prepare students for more school. We should be seeking to have fully engaged students now.”
Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Super Reader, Estimation Jar, and Me Bag

On Friday, I posted information about my Parent Pack!  I must admit, I still have a few areas to tend to!  IS IT EVER DONE?  For me, probably not!  I KEEP REARRANGING AND CHANGING!! AHHHH!  (perfectionism, over achiever, dedicated, obsessed, or just motivated?)  Included in that post was a picture of my Super Reader, Estimation Jar, and Me Bag.  Here is the picture, again, in case you missed the previous posting:
Every week a student gets to take this lovely purple bag home along with the Estimation Jar.  Inside they put 5 items of their choices.  The student then gives us 3 clues per item.  We have three tries to guess what each item is.  Typically, the students are very clever with their clues.  I am always amazed how well they craft the clues and present them to the class.  Pencils, stickers, small Legos, crayons, erasers, etc. usually are put in the Estimation Jar.  Taped to the inside of the lid is the amount of the items.  I take the answer off the lid (believe me they use a lot of tape to adhere it to the lid) and give the students a range to help them guess what the quantity is.  They print their answer on their white board.  The first time we do the Estimation Jar (which is presented by me), I model strategies on how to make a better guess on what the quantity is.  CHICKEN BIG is the book I would read.  Students must choose a picture book to read to the class.  There is always a huge range of choices!  When the student has finished, we give specific feedback to the student presenter.  "I liked your eye contact.  You had a smile on the whole time.  You gave clever clues."  Then we applaud the student!
Do you do something similar?  This will be my 11.5th year doing Super Reader, Estimation Jar, and Me Bag and it is one of my Can't Wait To Thursday activities!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Parent Pack! Welcome to Our Classroom!

They are stapled, labeled on quietly waiting for the parents to pick them up at Drop Off Supplies' Day!  That is 17 Parent Packs!  These Packs have been assembled to share with my Multi-age student families.  Included are pages on classroom expectations, a little snippet about me, and of course on the last page, the popular volunteer request form.  Of course, that would only be 3 pages!  Now, that would be the super condensed version.   A description of Super Reader, Estimation Bag and schedule, my classroom discipline policy, and classroom grading policies also have a page in this packet.  I have the parents sign the first page and then return the portion that has their signature on it.  Additionally, on the first page I do ask my student families how the want to receive my Classroom News.  They have three options:  via email, sent home, or they can view it online.  Typically, it is split by thirds; in other words, 1/3 receive it via email, another 1/3 view it online, and the last 1/3 get a hard copy!
How do you welcome your parents to your classroom?  Do you send home a beginning of the year Parent Pack?  If not, in what ways do you inform your parents about your fantastic and wonderful learning environments?  Please comment and share your ideas!  (if you would like to view the whole packet, please let me know.)
Cover page!
Super Reader, Estimation Jar, Me Bag

Volunteer page
Me Bag contents, Me Bag, and the Estimation Jar (I will go first to demonstrate and model how to complete each portion of this activity)  My next post will share more about this Get To Know You, entertaining, and enjoyable activity.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tah-dah! Here Are A Few More Pictures

It is a BRIGHT morning here in Wisconsin!  The forecast is calling for temperatures to be in the mid 70's.  For many Wisconsinites this is Weather Heaven!  Which makes me ponder, does your school have air conditioning?  Our school does not! But, we are testing out a few window units to see if we can create a comfortable learning climate without installing central AC. 

Just as the weather is a blessing, so is being able to feel a tad more at ease with the progress I am making in my classroom!  Gone are the following:  stacks of books to put in desks, teacher supplies to shelf, and folders to update.  Now, I just need to add a couple more locker tags, get my classroom door done, and finish my math binders and Guided Reading/Literacy materials.  Oops, I forgot, my math wall still has a "caution" sign on it-ok it does not have a sign on it, but I feel it should.  It still needs to be revamped!

Here are the 2nd set of photos:
Trucker Buddy wall-where we post our correspondences with our Trucker Buddy.  Take a peek to the right of the picture, see the AC unit?

Part of my Social Studies wall.  The curriculum for my level taps into parts of the government and there a handful of standards on geography, locations, directions, etc.  Oh, in case you are wondering, the plants love being an "active" part of the classroom!

The second part of my Social Studies wall-sorry about the sun!  Yes, that is the President and his family.  We write him every year and "he" writes us back!  I wonder who we will be writing this year?

My classroom library

Another part of my classroom library.  I could not forget the pillows!  My students curl up with their books and their pillows when they are reading.  I call it DIRT-Daily Independent Reading Time!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A tiny, tiny peak!

Less than three weeks-anyone's heart beating a little faster besides mine?  Yesterday I spent the day getting to know my classroom real well!  I thought after awhile it was telling me, "Rosie, it is time to go home.  Enjoy the beautiful summer weather."  I did make progress, but still cannot say IT IS FINISHED!  Will it ever be?  I keep looking at my classroom through a multi-ager's eyes and trying to unfold what a typical day is going to look like.  Hopefully, the will walk in on Drop Off Supplies Day and fill that they are in a nurturing environment that is going to appreciate their uniqueness and celebrate their differences!  Additionally, I hope they will fill that they will be challenged to soar to new heights, pushed to empower others, and that their teacher is One Of A Kind who will support them every day!  (the One Of A Kind notation is not a bragging note, but I have heard that from many of my past students...more to come on this in future posts)
Here are a few pictures of my classroom!  I DEEPLY APOLOGIZE that I did not take Picture Taking 101.
Bathroom Passes/Hand Sanitizer- my students but a pass and a bottle of hand sanitizer on their desks when they go to the bathroom.

SAVE those Box Tops and Milk Caps!

Job Board- We rotate jobs once a month

Our Timeline!  Each month we will add photos and at the end of the year reflect upon the changes and growth.  Sorry I was not able to get the whole Timeline in the picture!

This is where my students sign in for lunch, get their mail, and put their weekly brown envelopes.  This shelf was hand crafted for me!  IT IS A TREASURE!!!
More to come!  SMILES!!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Changes, Changes, Changes (but they are all wonderful)

 One more time, CHANGES!!!  So, in my last post I told you I will be teaching 1st/2nd Grade Multi-age this year!  Because of the new path I get to travel *excitement*, I thought I would give my Blog a new design!  I am no longer 2nd Grade Teacher and Learner, but Teacher and Life Long Learner.  My header has been changed to Learn to Teach and Teach to Learn instead of Shine in 2nd Grade!  I am not a huge fan of orange or a tang color, so again, I thought I would "change" my passion for certain colors!  I have to admit, this theme is growing on me-in a positive way! 
Two quotes to reflect on this wonderful Tuesday, the 14th of August:
 "Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine." ~Robert C. Gallagher

 "If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies. " ~Author Unknown

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tool for Common Core and More!

Monday, the 13th of August, yes it is here!  I had to type that to try to wrap my internal clock around the fact that we are almost half way through August!  YIKES!!!!
Well last week I found out I will be teaching Multi-age (1st and 2nd grade) all day!  Previously, I was only going to teach Multi-age in the morning!  I AM EXCITED,  EAGER, ANXIOUS, and furiously searching through 1st Grade materials, Blogs, and resources! ( I want to find out as much as I can about my typical Youngers' skill levels and interests).   I have also meet with a Multi-age teacher and she shared with me her insight, wisdom, and "hints" about her experiences with Multi-age teaching!  She was helpful and full of Multi-age passion and love!  I hope at the end of this school year I can share with other prospective Multi-age teachers her sound understanding of Multi-age teaching!
2nd Grade Flip Book
Our principal did give all teachers a resource that is close to being one of BFF's!!!  It is called the Common Core Standards Flip Chart and it is by Mentoring Minds.  I received one for 1st and 2nd Grade!!!  Hooray, all the standards for math and ELA in a flip chart!  The chart breaks down each standard and highlights activities that teachers could do to meet the standards!   Additionally, the flip chart has intervention tips, the Dolch Sight word lists, vocabulary strategies and interventions, and assessment strategies!  Have you seen these?
My room is still under "construction," but I hope to post pictures soon!!

1st Grade ELA Standards and activities

1st Grade Accommodation Strategies


Friday, August 10, 2012

b and d Reversals

Happy Friday (I hope it is sunny and at least 72 degrees by you; here it is cloudy and the temp is hovering around 60 degrees)!  Are you getting anxious; are you feeling the back to school butterflies yet?  I am trying "real hard" *emphasizing* not to beat myself too much by trying to perfect everything in my classroom!  I have seen so many wonderful pictures of yours and others classrooms (Design Star quality) and I second guess what I have done in my classroom!  Ahhh, the joys of Type A personality!   haven't had dreams about what I need to move or arrange differently so I guess my mind is at ease when I sleep! :>)  If you are dreaming-literally dreaming- about your classroom, will warm milk or white noise help?????

So, onto my post idea!  Do you have a magic trick for b and d reversals?  I am tutoring two students who flip them and will interchange them when reading and writing!  Furthermore, in 2nd Grade it is still "common" for a few 7 and 8 year old students to reverse b and d.  Over the years, I have collected a few tricks and tools to put in my Resource Bag!  Here are a few:
  • b and d with fists aka Thumbs Up!- the student puts up his or fists on each hand to make a b with the left hand and a d with the right hand.  It can be also pointed out the b is first in the alphabet and it is also first when you put up you b and d on you fists!
  • b and d with pointer and thumb-the student uses his/her pointer finger and brings it down to touch his/her extended thumb (the pointer finger should make a circle shape when it touches the thumb).  
  • b and d on sand paper letters (the preschool student I work with is a top fan of these)- On the sand paper letters there are green and red dots, arrows, and numbers to indicate where to start, form the letter and where to stop.
  • sky write b and d-make sure to use a "sharpened finger pencil" and use big arm movements to make a b and d in the sky while saying the letter
  • table top or desk top b and d-make a b and d with pointer on a desk or table surface while saying the letter.
  • c comes before d-if students remember that c comes before d than they can make the c first and add the stick to form the d.
  • mouth positions-have students use what position their mouth is in when they make the b and d sound- b-closed  d-open  
  • bat/ball, doorknob/door-teach students to make the b first they make the bat then the ball.  For the d first they make the doorknob and then add the door.
  •  gel bags- make b and d in a baggie filled with gel
  • shaving cream-make b and d in a shaving cream (and clean the desk at the same time)
 I hope these help you!  Do you have any to share; if so, please do!  :>)


b and d poster

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Get to Know You Activities!

Are you preparing and getting ready your Get to Know Activities?  Do your Icebreakers include you; in other words, breaking the ice with your students-how do you reveal your likes, dislikes, etc.?  What do you do the first couple of weeks to begin to build a strong bridge and beginning connections with your students?  Do your wear your best outfit on the 1st day too? (I wonder how many teachers buy "new school clothes.")

Here are a few activities that I have done with my students.  Hopefully, these Icebreakers will be transparent with many different ages and grades!
  1. Stringing Conversation Together-get some string and cut in in different lengths, but each length needs a pair.  If you do not have an even amount of students, make sure to cut three strings the same length.  Pass out the strings, making sure to mix-up the string lengths.  Next, tell the students they need to find someone who has the same length of string as they do!  They CANNOT talk at this time.  When everyone has found their partner, they need to find out three facts about that person (feel free to allow your students to write down the facts on a note card).  If necessary, modify the amount!  Finally, when all are ready, have them share their "String Conversations.
  2. A Tangled Web-Gather students in a circle sitting around you on the floor. Hold a large ball of yarn. Start by telling the students something about yourself. Then roll the ball of yarn to a student without letting go of the end of the yarn. The student who gets the ball of yarn tells his or her name and something good about himself or herself. Then the student rolls the yarn to somebody else, holding on to the strand of yarn. Soon students have created a giant web. After everyone has spoken, you and all the students stand up, continuing to hold the yarn. Start a discussion of how this activity relates to the idea of teamwork - for example, the students need to work together and not let others down. To reinforce the importance of teamwork, have one student drop his or her strand of yarn; that will demonstrate to students how the web weakens if the class isn't working together.
  3. Linking Together-Chain of Talents- give students 2-3 strips of paper that the write down a talent on.  When they have their talents written down, form a chain with their strips.  Next, lead a discussion about what the chain demonstrates.  For example, all the students have talents; all the students have things they do well.  Together, the students have many talents.   If they work together, classmates can accomplish anything; the class is stronger when students work together than when individual students work on their own. Finally, hang the chain in the room as a reminder to your students of the talents they possess and the benefits of teamwork.
  4. Snowballs-Have each student get a scrap piece of paper.  Next, have your students print a question on the piece of paper.  On a white board, Smartboard, etc. write a few questions as models-What is your favorite soup?  How many sisters do you have?  What is your favorite cold food?  Have each student show you their question.  When everyone is done, have them krinkle their paper up into a snowball.  Then count down from 10 and yell, "Snowball Snowstorm."  Everyone needs to throw their snowball.  Each student then picks up a snowball and reads the question aloud and answers the question!  Repeat as many times as you want!
  5. Time Box- This is a first and last day activity!  Type of a list of questions (the quantity depend upon your grade and the students' ages) that your students will answer.  How old are you?  What is your favorite thing to read about?  What color do you not like?  What is your favorite ice cream topping? Then have all your students share their answers!  "Bury" their papers in a box and then "bury" it somewhere in the class!  On the last day of class, pass out a new Time Box (the same one as the first day).  Have students complete them again.  Then unbury the previous Time Box and pass them out. Students can then compare their Time Boxes!  They are amazed at how many stayed the same, were different, and of course how much their spelling and handwriting improved!!! 
These are only 5 of my Icebreakers!  I do have a file of Get to Know You Activities!  It seems each year I rotate different ones in and out!  If you need more ideas or have a few to share, please leave a comment!  I'd love to hear what your do!  

Click on the picture to get a copy of my Time Box! 


Monday, August 6, 2012

House on the Rock-A MUST VISIT!

Have you been here?  If not, please go!  What am I pushing on you? The House on the Rock; a place where Alex Jordan created an architectural wonder and awe!  Mr. Jordan built this house on a sandstone formation!  Although he never intended it to be a tourist attraction, it now attracts thousands of visitors from east to west (yesterday I met people from many different parts of the country). Today, the house has 14 rooms and is now a complex of many buildings, exhibit/displays and flower/garden showcases!  You can choose from three unguided tours or choose two or all three.  Of course, I picked all three!  I spent about 3 hours there and must say, it was an unbelievable 180 minutes!  Although Mrs. Jordan is no longer with us, he definitely left a part of him with us in his creation! (I do not have a picture of the GRAND CAROUSEL-sorry I only have it on video).  I will definitely share Mr. Jordan's work (via pictures, video, experiences, stories) with my students! Click Here to read more!  I hope you will find information to share with your students!  Doesn't a field trip to Spring Green, Wisconsin with your students sound alluring and attractive?

If you go, or have gone, please leave me a comment; I'd love to read about your experiences!
The Infinity Room

A Log and Ticket Stubs

The Infinity Room from Afar

Built Right into the Rock!

Longer than the Statue of Liberty is Tall!

Doll Homes