Tuesday, July 31

A Dreamy New Look!

I have a new look…long overdue…but oh so fun!  Isn’t it dreamy?  I am very excited with how it looks.  Thank you to Alicia at Dreamlike Magic Designs for making it happen!  What do you think?  I hope you love it as much as I do…now to get back to filling it with regular posts.

I have some catching up to do after a fun-filled trip to Idaho last week.  I just couldn’t bring my laptop while we were doing this…

It was fun while it lasted.  Now it’s time to get busy…summer is disappearing faster than I want to acknowledge.  I need to get working on more aprons, organizing my file drawers into monthly binders, organizing my digital files, and filling my brain with all things Common Core related…not to mention all the Pinterest projects on my to do list!  Wish me luck...I’ll keep you posted!

Saturday, July 21

Must Have Picture Books

The Teacher Wife

Another linky...and I am a bit late jumping on board with this one! How did I ever miss it?

I love, love, love reading picture books to my kindergarteners. I have many favorites, so narrowing them down to a list of 5 "must-have" stories is a challenge! But here we go...

These are my Top 5 favorites for engaging students and teaching them something valuable along the way!  (All five are linked to Amazon if you click on the picture.)

Ish is an adorable book by Peter Reynolds that teaches kids that it's okay to not be perfect. The main character gets discouraged when his brother laughs at one of his drawings...from then on nothing he draws is good enough and ends up crumpled on the floor. Little does he know that his little sister has been collecting these crumpled pictures and creating a gallery in her room. She teaches him that it is okay to be "ish". I LOVE the message in this story and read it early on every year...it so helps those little one that want every picture to be perfect.

This book is fun for its illustrations and wonderful story. Verdi is a young snake that doesn't want to grow up and turn green like the boring adult snakes he sees. But he learns that you can't stop growing up...nor do you have to. He grows to be wiser and safer, but still fun-loving.

This is a must read for the first week of school. Finding this treasure of a book has made my classroom management so much easier! It takes the idea of spreading kindness and makes it very visual. My students talk about this book all year. No one wants to be a bucket dipper!

I love this book for teaching about bullying. It is a blast to read with great pictures and really fun wording. The kids get very wrapped up in the story. Are they ever surprised at the end when the bully problem is solved in a way they never expected!

Jenny loves to draw. But, her school assignment is to write a story...and her teacher says "Words first!" Jenny can't even get started. When her pet guinea pig becomes lost she draws pictures of what she imagines has happened to him. In the end, she discovers that her pictures tell a story...pictures first. My kids loved Jenny's illustrations and learned that writing a story happens differently for everybody. 

And there you have it...my "Top 5"...I wish I could keep going!  If you have favorites to share, be sure to link up at The Teacher Wife!  Thank you Lindsey for putting this together! I will be reading about favorite books for days (and probably adding many to my collection)!

=) Happy reading!

Thursday, July 19

I'm In! Teacher Tone Up Challenge...

I just stumbled on a new linky party.  It will be the toughest one yet...because it will require ongoing commitment. But...the cool part?  It is about taking care of ME.  Now that is something I generally do not prioritize.  We are all guilty of it…we focus our time and energy on taking care of our family, our students, and our friends.  While the truth is that we could better take care of others if we take care of ourselves first. Sooooo friends…who’s in?  I am.  If you are too…click the button above and link up for support, encouragement, accountability, and a new you!  Thank you to Kimberlee Fulbright @ Two Fulbright Hugs for getting this going! =)

So here are my goals…
Goal #1--Get active
    I hate exercise…ever since middle school PE class.  It’s never been my thing.  It means getting sweaty.  It makes my hair frizz.  It hurts.  I’m not good at it.  I’m not a morning person, so I am not motivated to exercise before work.  I’m exhausted after work.  I live in Washington where it rains a lot…who wants to walk/run in the rain?  THERE…you’ve heard my excuses.  Lame, huh?  Give me time and I’ll give you more.  Obviously, that will be my biggest hurdle.

If I am going to do this…I am going to need to CHANGE MY ATTITUDE and JUST DO IT!

Goal #2--Eat healthy
   I am not overweight.  My weight does fluxuate…and there are a few pounds I could stand to lose this summer.  I do not know my BMI.  But mostly I want to focus on nutrition.  I know I do not eat as healthily as I should or could or would…whatever.  I read about it.  I know.  However, family seems to complicate food.  My wonderful husband has largely taken over the shopping & cooking.  Wonderful, yes.  Healthy, no.  This will require a bit of planning and talking.  It can be done.

Baby Steps
I will start this week with a daily walk…two laps around our loop is a mile and a half.  And for my arms…I will carry my itty bitty weights.  My eventual goal is to build up to running.  So, my task for today is to read up on how to do that.  I have a friend on Facebook who keeps posting about her progress on Couch to 5K…I will let you know what I learn.  

Soon I will post about some longer term goals and my plans for reaching them.  First I need to do some legwork and know what I’m talking about.

I hope you will join the Teacher Tone Up Challenge too…I need all the encouragement and accountability I can get!  Now…to find those running shoes…  

=) Angela  

Friday, July 13

How Do I Grade Kindergarteners?

I am linking up with Joell at Totally Terrific Teaching to share how I grade students. I am anxious to read about how others do this as well. Be sure to link up with us and share!

In our district we use a standards-based grading system for all elementary grades.  Basically, we are to assess each student's progress toward meeting each specific standard or skill and base their grade on their level of mastery.  The grading scale goes like this:

4 - Working well above grade level expectations (Wow!)
3 - Working at grade level expectations (Got it!)
2 - Making Progress toward meeting grade level expectations (Almost!)
1 - Working well below grade level expectations (Uh-Oh)

We have district designed benchmark rubrics for each trimester that we use to determine student progress.  So, for example, the end of year goal for identifying sight words for kindergarteners is 18 words (a, and, are, for, go, have, he, here, I, is, like, my, play, said, see, she, the, to).  To determine a student's grade for the first progress report, I would assess each kindergartener and then reference the first trimester benchmark rubric (here is a snapshot of one section)...

Based on this rubric, if student A was able to read 6 sight words he would be given a "3".  If student B was able to read 12 sight words he would be given a "4" for the trimester.  And if student C was reading three sight words, I would give him a "2".

Having a very clear rubric really simplifies our grading process and helps to ensure that grades are assigned in an objective manner.  The rubric for the second trimester would then up the expectations and what was a "4" for trimester 1 will then be a "3", what was good enough for a "3" will then be  "2", etc.  This is shown in the next snapshot...

Finally, the third trimester benchmark rubric lists the end of year goal for each state standard as the expectation for a "3". Here is a snapshot of the sight word section of our third trimester rubric...

Just for comparison sake, my son attends school in a different nearby district. They have the same end of year goals, but choose not to set trimester benchmarks.  Instead, a student will be given a "2" on each progress report until he/she achieves the mark of "3".  Therefore my son had mostly grades of  "2" on his first and second trimester progress reports and finally earned his marks of "3" at the end of the year. While this leaves parents wondering how well their child is progressing throughout the year and whether they are on target to meet the standards...it must simplify the grading process for teachers.

Now that Washington is part of the CCSS, our district will have to look at the new standards compared to the old and make adjustments to our benchmarks. The CCSS for sight words does not actually assign a number of words that students must learn, so I imagine that the state or the district will determine what is appropriate.  However, that is just a guess.  We are supposed to have some training on the CCSS late this summer, but it will be phased in over a couple of years.  I am curious how it will all look for us when it is fully implemented.

I hope that helps! I look forward to learning how you grade your students!  =)

Wednesday, July 4

Growing Learners

I am playing with my new clipart...and inspired by my ever growing garden.  Are you ready to grow a new garden of learners?  Summer is only just beginning here...and I miss my kinders very much.  But, I am also thankful for this time to prepare for September's new "sprouts"!

I created the poster above with clipart from Cerulean Daze's garden pack...(the teacher is from the classroom kids pack).  Next up...updating some classroom signs and creating some September activities.  But before that it is time to get chopping veggies so I can bring my Summer Veggie Chop Salad to today's picnic!  If you're looking for a good potluck salad recipe, I highly recommend this one! Fresh and oh-so-yummy-licious!

=) Happy 4th of July all!