Friday, August 24

almost ready…room pictures!

Here it is…almost ready!
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What do you think?  I’m super-excited with how it has turned out…just a few finishing touches to go!

To see even more classroom photos, check out the linky parties at Teaching Blog Addict, I’m Blog Hoppin and Brigid's Daily Lesson Log 

Wednesday, August 22

Meet & Greet Freebie

I have been tirelessly working working myself to exhaustion in my classroom to get it ready. Next week is our Meet & Greet.  While the room is “set up”…it is far from organized and the mess is not getting any better no matter what I do!  I definitely have some long hours ahead of me to get it all put away.  I am trying so hard to avoid stuffing it in bins and under tables to “hide” it again.  This girl just wants to be organized and not have the stress of the mess.

I have made some posters to place above bins at Meet & Greet to collect supplies in.  At least that way the supply drop-off will not create even more mess for me.  You are welcome to the signs if you can use them. I will most likely not have time to tailor new ones, but I think they hit the basics.

Now…back to our regularly scheduled mess management!  Pictures coming soon!

Saturday, August 18

D5 PowerPoint Check-In Freebie

I had a number of email requests for my Daily 5 Check-In PowerPoint.  I am always happy to share!  But, I did need to remove the graphics in order to share legally.  Still cute though…right?  Click on the image to download.

Just add pics of your students to the table at the bottom on each slide.  I was inserting pics and resizing them to 1/2 inch. Save the file with all of the pictures in place at the bottom.  Then to use during D5, just drag and drop each child’s picture to their selected activity.  There is a separate slide for each round. As long as you do not save the file when you close it, then all of the pictures will revert to their starting spot at the bottom…ready to go for the next day.  As you read in my original post, this was my solution to wanting an visual/interactive check-in process to use with my new projector and pull-down screen.  Someday I will have a Smartboard…but for now this was as interactive as I could get!  =)

The titles of each activity are editable, so you may tailor them to meet your needs.  I do not generally use “Read to Someone” in my classroom, so I published this with “Reading Meeting” instead…which is what we call our small group time.

The font used is “Cheri” and is freely downloadable if you do not already have it.  The Google Docs version will download with Arial…just switch it up to what you like.  And of course, you can always add your own graphics back in to cutesy it up.

I hope some of you can use this.  If you have any questions, just ask!  I’d love to know how it works for you!
Thank you for reading!

Thursday, August 16

Workshops, Awards, and Wonderment … oh my

You know summer is coming to a close and school is fast approaching when the workshops start! I spent two days this week immersed in Universal Design for Learning where I got really jazzed up for a wonderful new year of working with my little angels.  The premise of UDL is very similar to differentiation, with a high focus being on intentionally designing universal lessons (accessible to everyone) from the outset…as opposed to implementing individual modifications on a case-by-case basis as an afterthought.  This was equated to designing/building a home that was universally accessible to anyone (disabled or not) from the start…as opposed to adding ramps and making post-build remodels to later accommodate a particular disability.

The three main components of UDL are:
1. presenting information in multiple formats and media
2. providing multiple pathways for student expression (how they demonstrate learning)
3. providing multiple ways to engage student interest and motivation

It was very interesting, motivating, and practical as far as workshops go. I feel like my toolbox is brimming with ideas to differentiate my teaching to meet the needs of a range of students (gifted, learning disabled, physically disabled, and for a variety of learning styles and preferences). I am looking forward to sharing some of those ideas with you all in the weeks to come!

The last two days we have been learning about working with challenging behaviors. I must say that the videos alone were making me tense and stressing me out over starting with a brand new bunch of school-babies.  But, once again…my toolbox is loaded.  I have one more week to wrap up the many little details in my classroom before the last go-round of workshops (CCSS and 5D).

So today I was humbled to receive an email notification that my blog was named one of the Top 50 Early Education Blogs.  It just made me smile.  I have proudly posted my award on my sidebar. Here is the review that was written about me:

Angela Wageman is the scribe for Just Love Teaching, a forum in which the Washington State kindergarten teacher and mother of 4 shares heartwarming ‘smiles’ – anecdotal tidbits sure to remind even the most fatigued teachers why they chose to go into the profession. Reading, math and science activities also appear prominently on the site, as do Angela’s vibrant, apron creations, which are designed exclusively for teachers.

I am humbled, but also inspired to provide relevant content and plenty more “heartwarming smiles” for my readers…because I really do Just Love Teaching! Thank you for reading and following along my teaching journey.

Tuesday, August 14

D5 Check-In Solution

Okay, so I have a projector in my room for the first time…ever.  I am thrilled beyond all measure.  I mean…we are talking “goosies” here!  Anyhow, I have been wanting a visual/digital/interactive Daily 5 check-in system forever.  I made an electronic version of my very standard clipboard check-in last year that had “clickable” boxes for each choice.  Of course, no projector last year meant I had to print it out and use my clipboard and vis-a-vis again.  This year I wanted to make it happen though.  While I have a projector finally, I do not have an interactive board.  So I puzzled over how to make my dream check-in chart a reality. After some fooling around with PowerPoint, I have my solution.  Here is what it looks like...

I have programmed it with the choices that I use in my class.  All it needs is pictures of my cherubs once they arrive.  My plan is to save the file with their pics in place at the bottom. Then during choices, all I have to do is drag and drop each little angel-face to the right activity.  I made a separate slide for each D5 round.  So each round I will simply switch slides and their pictures will be at the bottom ready for me.  As long as I do not save over my template when I close, then everything will revert back to its original placement.

What do you think?  I’m off to go do my happy dance now!

Thursday, August 9

Back in the Classroom again

Ready or not…here we go!  I can’t believe it is August (and a full week down already too)!  That means school days are fast approaching and it is high time to get the classroom organized.  This is the first year that I have not had to change classrooms…can I hear a huge “hurrah” for that!

I ventured into school for the first time on Monday to take my before pictures.  This is what was waiting for me…a much more manageable mountain than last year.

The next two days I recruited some help and began the task of arranging the big things. I knew that my carpet area would be in a different location (due to finally getting a projector and document camera…and only having one spot in my room where the computer can hook up).  So, I set to work redesigning the overall layout.  It’s a work in progress yet, but here are some pics…
Library Corner
Teacher Desk (and one helper ready to go home)
Beginnings of carpet area w/projector table.
Small group area (for Title I Para). I will teach my small groups at the carpet.

I accomplished some more this morning…some…not a lot.  Tomorrow I will get to work on some walls and more of the nitty gritty organizing.  What do you think so far?  Does anyone else teach their small groups at the carpet?  I’m thinking of getting some of these lap trays from Michaels…$6 this week.
They can hold books, warm-ups, pointers, EZC reader strips, pencils, etc.  Sitting at the carpet will allow me to utilize the projector and document camera during groups when I want.  And, my Title I para can stay in the room with me instead of pulling kids out.  I’m hoping this will work well.

Now that I am back in the room and making progress, I am feeling more excited for the new school year to start.  This summer has been much to short, but it is time to get ready to nurture my new ones.

I will post “finished” pictures later!  

Tuesday, August 7

Digital Pensieve?? Yes Please!!

Pssst….have you heard???  The Sisters have developed a digital pensieve that will be available very soon (early August according to the FAQ).  I was so excited to read about this is their latest Daily CAFE email.  As a devoted Daily 5 diva…I was overjoyed!  This little tool is going to make keeping up with conferring a dream.

You can read more about it HERE.  And then we can wait together…fingers tapping…clock watching…butterflies building.  Hurry already!

Just thought you should know…  =)

Monday, August 6

Monday Made It Time!

It’s Monday…and I made it!  I feel like I just made it too.  This project took me a few days to complete and I wasn’t sure it was going to turn out.  But, it is finished and I am tickled!

My idea came from Pinterest (...last summer).  You can see the picture that inspired me.  Originally, I thought I was just going to find a mug tree and repurpose it.  Easy right? Wrong.  No mug trees at Goodwill, TJ Maxx, Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s, That Kitchen Store,  the local thrift store, or the not-so-local thrift store I visited while in Idaho.  Nope.  Nada.  Zippo.  Zilch.  Not to be thwarted another year, I decided I would purchase one online.  Yes, you can purchase them online…if you want to shell out $15-$30.  I did not.

But, as it turns out, my husband had this nifty piece of 1 1/2 inch square wood in the garage that was pretty long.  So, I got to thinking about crafting my own tree.  I sawed off a 15 inch length (shhh…he’ll never notice) and sanded it to round the corners and smooth it a bit.

I had some leftover dowels from some other project long past that I thought would make decent “branches” for my tree.  So, my next step was cutting the dowels to 4 inch lengths and drilling holes to insert them in.  The dowel package said they were 5/16 inch in diameter, so I used the 5/16 inch drill bit. Once I had the dowels in place I wasn’t sure I was completely happy with them.  I mean, they were fine, but I really wanted something more substantial.  And I needed to go to Michael’s anyway for a wood base…so it couldn’t hurt to look, right?

Look what I found!  I was loving these from the moment I saw them.  So, $2.99 for a package of 8 pegs and 4.99 for the circular base (which was really a small clock face…but the only round piece of wood in stock).  And it had a hole pre-drilled in the center, so I didn’t balk at the price too much.  Plus with my 15% off it wasn’t so bad anyway.  I was getting a scissor tree for about $7!

Back at home, I took out the dowels and got to drilling my holes larger for the pegs.  This caused me some grief.  It turns out that it is actually easier to drill into the wood with the big 1/2 inch bit if there are not already 5/16 inch holes.  The bit snagged the hole and I splintered my wood a little.  So I had to fill those areas with some putty (saw dust and elmer’s did the trick) and sand again.  With the pegs in place, it was finally taking shape the way I wanted.  I screwed the base to the tree (pre-drilling a small hole in the bottom of the tree so it would hopefully not crack).  Easy peasy…thank goodness.

The fun part was painting.  After a few coats of paint I have a new scissor tree!  I added the class set of (same color-same size-no reason to fight over the good ones) scissors that I purchased for 50 cents each at Wal-Mart.  What do you think?  Hooray for Pinterest!

Friday, August 3

More Books and Freebies

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Patridge

This story is so sweet.  Wilfrid’s elderly friend Nancy loses her memory and he is determined to find it.  He asks the other residents of the home where Nancy lives what a memory is and then goes looking for items that might be Miss Nancy’s memories.  While each item is a memory of his own, they magically spark Miss Nancy’s own memories too.  This story always makes me smile.  It leads to wonderful discussions of friendship, memories, and making connections.

You can listen to this story on Storyline Online by clicking here.
Here is a response sheet to go with the story.

Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly

Don’t you just love her name and her pigtails?  This book has a lot…amazing illustrations, rich vocabulary, science correlation, and a truly wonderful story.  The main character Velma is the youngest of the three Gratch sisters and finds it hard to be noticed in the shadow of her sisters’ accomplishments.  Instead of being compared to them, she wants to make her own shadow.  Her efforts at being noticed do not go well (she is the first Gratch sister to get sent to the principal) until her class takes a field trip to the Butterfly Conservatory.  Then everything changes!

A Place to Grow

This is a must-read book when you are teaching about seeds and plants.  It is such a sweet story about a seed traveling on the wind looking for a place to grow.  Just when you think she has found the perfect spot, something happens and she needs to go.  My favorite part of the book is the ending when the seed finds her place to grow…and then the author finishes with “The Beginning” instead of “The End.”  I always follow up this story with a writing prompt that asks the students to finish the story.  They draw and write what they think the seed will grow into.

Thursday, August 2

Pinterest Panache

I finally completed my first Pinterest project!  I am a hoarder of ideas…and not so good at finding making time to accomplish any of them.  But yesterday friends I was determined.  Check out what I did…I’m sure you’ve seen it pinned before.  You know the one…start with some of these (four dozen to be exact)...

Then you find an empty can.  I was lucky enough to have saved one that was just the right size.

Then dig out your trusty glue gun…this one has seen better days, but it did the trick.

Scrounge through your sewing scraps for some ribbon…I know you have some somewhere.  If not, pick up a yard at the craft store.  Turns out I had plenty of leftovers from sewing aprons last summer.

Then get to work applying a line of hot glue along one edge of each pencil and stick to the can with the eraser end facing to the top opening.

This takes patience…but you also have to work quickly lining up each pencil before the glue cools.  

Be careful to line the bottoms up as straight as you can so it looks nice.  My can had a handy little rolled lip that made this a lot easier to do.

Then…if you are lucky…your last pencil will just fit without leaving much of a gap.  So far so good.

Tie on the ribbon to add just a little panache.  I like the stitching detail...

Finally, for a beautiful display…head outside to cut your prettiest flowers…and insert.  Breathtaking!

I did place a plastic cup inside the can to hold the water…just to be practical.  I love how it turned out!  What do you think?  It will add just the thing to my desk at school.

Next up…that scissor tree.  Remember that one?  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 1

First Day of School

I am joining Jodi at Fun in First's What’s Your Favorite Back to School Activity? linky party!

As part of our first day of school, I like to read the book I Went Walking by Sue Williams.  The repetitive pattern makes it easy for the kinders to feel like readers on their first day of school.  Since it is about taking a walk and seeing what you can see, it leads nicely into a tour of the school.  When we return, we are ready to make our very first classroom book I Went Walking.  This is a great time to review what we talked about on our tour and emphasize some school rules and procedures. The classroom book will then become a fast favorite during Daily 5 Read to Self or Read to Someone.  To make the book, I have photos of each school person we will see on our walk to glue onto the pages.  I then laminate (or slip each page into a sleeve) and bind.

For your copy of I Went Walking, just click the picture.

To get a copy of my I Went Walking class book click the image and enjoy.

Another activity to go along with this book is making character puppets for retelling the story.  We practice our first sight words “I” and “see” over and over.  We will mark them with highlight tape in the book, sing HeidiSongs See Song, learn sign language for both words, and complete our first journal entry using the prompt “I see ______.”

This is just one of our first day of school activities.  But, it is a favorite.  Now…what do you do on the first day?  Link up and share!