Friday, June 26, 2015

Teaching with Intention: Chapter 4

Click the images below to check out this weeks hosts' blog posts.  These posts have some great ideas and helpful freebies.


There are those kiddos out there who will learn no matter what you put out there. They can easily tap into their metacognition (thinking about thinking) and readily use it throughout the day and in a number of subject areas. But what about those kids who struggle to do this? Maybe they are your ELL kiddos or the kiddos who didn't get a strong background in literacy before they joined you in kindergarten. How can we help them?

Debbie outlines three things we can do as teachers to help "support and promote student thinking."
1. Putting our thinking on display.
2. The intentional use of language.
3. Make thinking visible, public, and permanent.

When I was reading this chapter, I thought: close reading! This is such a powerful way to put your thinking on display. I am a newbie to close reading. I just started doing it this year, but whoa, what a difference it made. I found that one of the best ways to reach all of my students was to slow down, focus on one book, and put my thinking on display both verbally and visibly through anchor charts. This chart took us a week to complete and there was a lot of modeling on my part. However, I noticed that the quality of our questions improved throughout the week and then in the future.

Check out this post Tara from Little Minds at Work wrote about close reading. She is a wealth of knowledge on the subject!

One of my favorite ways to encourage my students to think is to build a positive and collaborative learning environment.  When we teach our students how to listen and learn from their peers, we can also teach them how to encourage and help each other.  In the beginning, I model this behavior for them.  The kids think it is fun to be a part of the lesson.  When we as teachers, notice and name thoughtful language and positive behavior, our students learn how to do that as well. After a lot of modeling, I encourage my students to help each other out throughout the day.  I "listen in" to their conversations. For some students, this comes naturally.  But for others it takes some training, repeated practice, and time.
It seems as though I am always saying:

"What do you think?"

"Can you tell me more about that?"

"That is such a great idea.  Will you share it with your friends?"

Debbie gives us so many great words and phrases to use in the classroom with our students.  I made a reference sheet for myself and want to share it with you! Click on the picture below to grab it.

See you next week!

TPT Seller Challenge: Week 2 Dare to Dream

This weeks' challenge is about your hopes and dreams for your TpT  business. I started this TpT journey earlier this year because I found that creating (and blogging) gave me a greater purpose as a teacher. It has helped rejuvenate me and given me a new excitement about teaching.  
*Connect: My biggest goal with blogging and my TpT business has been to connect with other teachers. I have talked about this a little before, but I am the only kindergarten teacher in my building. I work with great teachers, but I would love to be able to connect and collaborate with other kindergarten teachers around the country.

*Pay for Childcare: Daycare is expensive!

*Travel:  I would love to travel with my family. Someday I want to go to Greece, Australia, New Zealand, The Championships, Wimbledon, see the Northern Lights, etc. I think it would be neat if I could help to make that happen for us!

*Professional Development: It is my dream to be able to go to professional development opportunities and conferences throughout the country. I can't wait to join other teacher bloggers in Vegas someday!

I wish you luck in the pursuit of your dreams,

Friday, June 19, 2015

Teaching with Intention: Chapter 3

Environment, Environment, Environment

As I was reading this chapter, I kept thinking yes, yes... this is so me!  One of my former students visited yesterday and said, "whoa, your classroom looks different!"  One of my current students said, "Yes, she does that.  She likes to change things."  I had to laugh because these boys totally get me :) 

Two years ago, when I first inherited my current classroom, there was a lot of stuff.  There is no other way to describe it.  My mom is a super organizer, so she and I got to work in the classroom.  We threw out and organized the "stuff" and I had a great start.  However, as I settle into a classroom, my teaching evolves as does my space.  I started reading this book right before the end of the school year.  Little did I know, a voice inside of me was screaming for a change.  My teaching philosophy just didn't match my classroom environment.  

My classroom is still a work in progress, but I have a great start and am excited about where I am headed!  Here is a little peak into my classroom so far:

See you all next week!

Happy Reading,

Makeover Madness: TPT Seller Challenge Week 1

I am joining in for the TPT Seller Challenge.  Our challenge if we choose to accept it:

I am new to TPT and am still working on finding my niche in the TPT word so I chose to makeover a couple of my covers.  I also forgot to save two of my old covers to show you the sorry!!  These products are all on sale this week :)

On this first one, I kept the cover clipart and background, but made everything a little larger and easier to read.  I also changed the title to make its purpose a little clearer: 

You can find this product in my store {here}

I love using the following product for reading comprehension with my class.  It has really helped my students dig deeper into text and has been great for my ELL students.

You can find this product in my store {here}

So, I am in love with these new papers from The Creative Chalkboard... I had to find a way to use them ;) 

You can find this product in my store {here}

I love seeing how everyone has made over there products.  So fun!!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Teaching with Intention: Chapter 2

I am excited to link up again with Greg from The Kindergarten Smorgasbord for the Teaching with Intention book study.  The hosts from Chapter 2 are:

and Amanda from The Primary Gal
This chapter asked us to define our beliefs as teachers and align that with our own practices. Debbie shares her own beliefs with us and remind us that we have to start with the end in mind. I loved this quote from the beginning of the chapter:
"When teachers have a set of beliefs that guides our work, we know where we are going. There may be twists and turns along the way, but we always know where we are headed." 

We have to think specifically about what we want to see our children doing by the end of the year (or even the end of each unit or lesson) and use that to guide our lesson planning.  I also kept thinking how important that is when we are working in small groups or conferencing.  We keep our guided principles in mind as we scaffold our children in their zone of proximal development.  As Debbie points out, we are the only ones who know "where our kids have been, where they are now, and where it makes the most sense to take them next." 

When I picture my ideal classroom I see:
  • A warm and positive atmosphere
  • A classroom where students know how to both work together and independently
  • A lot of classroom conversation.  I want my students to have a space where they can talk about themselves and their lives as well as have lively conversations about learning.  
  • Students using books to help them learn
  • Large and small group instruction as well as workshop time 
  • Hands on learning that is purposeful and project based
  • F-U-N!!!

Debbie poses some questions for us at the end of this chapter that really helped me define my own beliefs. Sometimes I find that it can be difficult to put beliefs into words and make sure your practice matches your beliefs.  I can see the end game, but how exactly do I get there? What are all of the little steps along the way?  These questions really helped me and I hope they help you.  Below are my thoughts... please add your ideas :)

Question 1:  How do you go about teaching kids something new?

  • Start with their schema: what do the kids already know?
  • What questions do the kids have about a given topic?  Can I guide them to asking more in-depth questions?  
  • Identify key vocabulary and concepts I want my student to learn.
  • Research with books, magazines, and articles
  • Pair learning from a book with something active.  We can do a science project, observe something, find a real life connection, watch a video to see what we are learning about in action, take a field trip (or a virtual field trip), or do a project.  

Question 2: What principles guide you?

  • All Students can learn
  • All Students can succeed

Question 3: How do you know if kids are getting it?

  • Besides assessment, one of the best ways to know if your students are "getting it" is to observe to see if they are asking and answering questions about a topic.  Can they do this independently without much teacher guidance or support? Are they using target vocabulary? Are they having academic conversations with each other?

Question 4: What do you do when they don't?

  • I try to figure out why they don't get it.  I usually look at my teaching first.  Do I need to re-evaluate how I am teaching this topic?  Do I need to re-teach the topic or vocabulary?  Do I need to re-teach in a different way? 
  • I talk about this in a past post {Here}

See you next week for Chapter 3,

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Teaching with Intention: Chapter 1

I am so excited to be a part of this book study.  I L-O-V-E Debbie Miller's books and am really looking forward to sharing ideas with other teacher bloggers!

When I read this chapter, I spent a lot of time thinking about my ideal classroom.  This is always a work in progress.  I moved to my current classroom two years ago and I make my own curriculum.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  After two years, I feel like I have a strong curriculum in place and am ready to focus my attention on my ideal classroom.

My ideal classroom is bright, happy, inviting, hands on, and full of strong academic conversation.  I love being in a well organized and colorful classroom.  I also want my students to be able to use their surrounding such as word walls, anchor charts, books to help them learn.  As a teacher, I want to provide lots of hands on activities to help foster curiosity through guided exploration.  I want my students to leave kindergarten with the seeds to grow into lifelong learners.  

Students: Working both independently and collaboratively. Curiosity drives learning. Students feel comfortable to try their best, make mistakes, and learn from each other.

Teacher: The teacher is facilitating discussion, working with students one on one or in a small group, and providing lots of hands on learning opportunities.

I have most of the materials I need to run my ideal classroom such as a teaching easel, a Smart Board, books for guided reading, and a math curriculum.  I recently moved my word wall to a magnetic whiteboard so it could be interactive.  We also have access to a small outdoor space right outside my room and a kitchen.

As I read this chapter, I thought..."my ideal classroom won't make itself."  I needed a change.  So, I redecorated and moved furniture around so that the space is more open and collaborative.  I think I might even try the no desk movement...EEKK!!! I am excited but scared at the same time.

My classroom library!  This is one of my big goals for the summer. I have boxes and boxes (and boxes and boxes) of books. My students always love to help me change the books each month. Reading this chapter and thinking about my ideal classroom made me realize the importance of a classroom library that can house all of my books at the same time.

I am excited to see what chapter 2 has in store for everyone!

See you next week,

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

#2getherwearebetter: Home Office Space

This month I am linking up with Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Lucky Little Learners for this months #2getherwearebetter Linky Party! 

This month we are coming together to talk about home office space.  When I am working, I always start at the kitchen table.  My animals (we have 4!!) are usually hanging out with me.  Our Goldendoodle Daisy and I are often playing fetch with the toy she is holding in her mouth.  

When I get tired, I end up on the couch! Our couches aren't the most stylish, but they are comfortable and recline at the push of a button. I have a 2 year old boy so there are trucks and trains everywhere!

This is our home office. One of these days I am going to go in there and hook up my computer to the monitor. Maybe between the French Open and Wimbledon...

My husband was born and raised in Lexington, KY and the picture below is from his boyhood bedroom. We didn't realize this until our cat Kevin grew to his full size, but he is pretty much a replica of this picture.  

Kevin's backstory: My students come from all over central Indiana. Five years ago, I had a student who lived on a farm in Colfax. I asked her family, "If I give you two pumpkins, will you put them out in the field and we can pretend it is a pumpkin patch?" They graciously agreed and we had a fabulous field trip. The tractor pulled us to the "pumpkin patch", we got to sit in a combine, and they bought all of the students little pumpkins to decorate. (It was an amazing field trip!!) Being on a farm, they had a lot of cats. One of which was named Fluffy. He was one of the friendliest cats I had every met and he was so sweet with the children. Well, Fluffy had kittens with another farm cat and they were born on my husbands birthday. The family picked out a cat for me and six weeks later we took Kevin home. He was 3 lbs when we took him home and had huge paws...he weighs 22 lbs now. Kevin was named after the bird in the movie Up. We already had a dog and cat at home...Snickers and Oreo. (In the movie) Kevin likes chocolate... and his name just stuck. He is usually at my feet under the kitchen table or hanging out on top of the cabinets in the kitchen. Today he was sleeping upstairs in the loft.  

Where do you work at home?