Saturday, April 4, 2015

#2getherwearebetter: Schedules

After almost a school year hiatus, my passion has been reignited  through the hearts of two considerate and positive direction leading teachers, Angie from Lucky Little Learners and Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in Second

I'm joining them for their new monthly series: #2getherwearebetter and the first monthly linky is all about...

Schedules are the routine we all thrive on to survive and help manage our classroom and they feel like they are always being rushed or adjusted. 

The school I teach in is rather large for our small community. We house about 900 students with 6 to 7 teachers per grade level. Our schedule leaves something to be desired; however, what makes us even better educators? Oh that phrase, you work with what you are given...and you make it work.

Our mornings being with welcoming the students by the front door. This part of the day is highly important to me for setting the tone. Usually the students are greeted with a compliment, joke, or me answering a question I heard them ask in the hallway. After they come in our routine is usually predictable. The students move their lunch sticks, check in their homework with me, and picking up their math morning work. Their favorite days are when morning work is a Roam the Room or cutting out pieces for a crafty! (I love those days, too; mainly because they are so engaged in their work- I like hearing what they have to say.)

Like I said earlier our school is rather large with many classes trying to eat breakfast. This is a part of my schedule I wish we could revise, but with our building I am not sure how. I just see so much potential for instructional time, if our students were able to come in early and eat before school. How does your school manage breakfast?

We come back to our room and start whole group reading instruction. Since we are Title 1 school and in IN we are under the 90 minute reading block. This year my whole group is before my guided reading, which is so much better for their development. This time is dedicated to a phonics warm up (on whatever skill of the week it is) and the focused reading comprehension skill. My favorite way to introduce a reading skill is through literature or non-fiction read alouds. The students just seem to grasp the skill better and have background knowelegde to pull from during small groups.

During this time I meet with 3 differentiated groups. They are divided using DIBELS and NWEA, as well as teacher digression. The times I meet with them differ based upon what they need to be working on. We don't use the Daily 5, which I have always been curious about how it work. Instead, they go to a classroom library center (daily) and then alternate every other day for word center and fluency centers. At each center, their are leveled baskets so the student work on materials suited for their needs.

This year I stepped out on a limb, 
took a dive, 
made the leap, 
freaked out, 
but continued haha! 
High group: I have my students in the upper level group actually split into two and working on individualized skills (makes planning fun!). Their word center is not phonics based so much as figurative language based. 

On-level group: This group is typically is working on what we are doing that particular week. 

Need for support: They have a folder they do first every day and then have a reading program they work though, Read Naturally, at the classroom library center. 

I am fortunate to have a classroom volunteer 3 out of the 5 days. (Three different women for those three days.) Boy, you sure can tell the difference when they are there. 

Guided Reading

I used to do the same kind of activity with each group at guided reading, just with different lexile leveled text, but as the year has progressed, I've moved to working on skills I know they truly need. 

High group: typically gets the phonics and reading skill the first two days, so we work on projects, in-text reading, or chapter book studies. Magic Tree House series has Fact Trackers that are paired with the fiction books and my kids ARE OBSSESSED! 

On level group: is working on the skill of the week and I try to dig deeper once they are catching onto it. We will also start using Non-fiction supplemental matierials by Kristen Smith. Our reading series only has one non-fiction story for the rest of the year (Yeah? What is that?) 

Kristen Smith has an engaging  non-fiction comprehension product that helps students practice and keeps their interest.

Need for support group: is focused heavily on decoding and fluency. We go over sight words, phrase cards, syllable kit. I do have them read the leveled read of the week and discuss it because they have so much to give when we discuss comprehension. I still want them to build their love of reading even if they struggle to actually read the words.

The 24/7 Teachers Leveled Reading Passages is a product I don't know how I lived without during guided reading. Click on the picture to go to her bundled product. She also sells by month.

Since we are a Title 1 school, our students have various RTI classrooms they switch to based upon DIBELS and NWEA testing. I have students who are in what we called the "bubble"  based upon NWEA testing. I follow the Learning Continuum to select skills- and trust me, this is where many supplemental TPT products of yours come into play. 

My favorite time of the day! We start whole group and then either have split centers or rotating centers. I tried to choose one and stick to it every day, but it wasn't addressing my students needs. I am a firm believer in routine, but also in change. So I see how my class is doing as a whole and if most students are picking up the skill, we go into split centers which consist of a game using that skill or task cards, while I work real briefly with my advanced math students and send them to practice a differentiated skill and then focus on my students who need support. 

Rotating centers come into play typically once a unit. The students rotate to 4 centers with 2 tasks within each center. Color coded, can I get an Amen? The students know what color they are for the first day and select from that tub and then switch the next day. This allows me to reinforce/recycle skills we have been working on honing. I am a center, too. So I meet with the groups and we work on leveled tasks.

  "Have a good lunch!" is what I hear. "Go consume food!" is my reply.

We all need this kind of time! I really wish I could use it for read-alouds and hopefully, one day I will get there, but this is when I pass out homework. Then we meet whole group and review the math skill of the week. I am all about playing pretend/acting so we usually have time to "act out" our math or I turn into my alter ego- Betty Sue Who Doesn't Know What to Do. (She is a first grader and needs help from them to solve the math problems!) They roll with laughter!

Art, Music, PE, Science, Writing, Computers---Prep time for me...which is usually completing daily tasks and not exactly prep.

I try to balance this time between teaching grammar (which could always use more time) and getting social studies or science into lessons. This year we work on our units during this time so the students are researching and writing papers. However, the goal in late April is to start a Poetry Unit and hopefully have a poetry cafe. If you have any ideas, send them my way! 

Here are some of our Unit Projects from the year:

Thanks for stepping into a day in our classroom. It has been enlightening reading your blogs about your schedule. I love to hear from you! How the wheels start turning! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Currently

Hey there, everyone! I feel like I've been a leaf swept away in the wind. "Teacher Summer" has ended and we've been in school for 3 weeks already! 3 WEEKS, like a month practically. Luckily, even though I feel tossed around a bit, I have the stability of reading so many of your CURRENTLY posts, I thought, "Why not give it a whirl, Allison?" 

So here I am linking up with the five star creator, Farley from Oh Boy Fourth Grade, for the September Currently. First.Time.Ever. (Evvvaa). 

LISTENING: I am a windows open kind of girl. Especially, the crisp fall air. I also love birds and rain showers, so this morning is a blend of all three! Which reminds me, I also need to blend some coffee and hear that brewing next. 

LOVING: Signs that fall is coming! I love everything about the season! ---There is an annual festival in the town next to mine that I have have frequented my whole life. Like baby in a stroller wearing a bonnet. Haha. (Thanks parents who took pictures to prove it. Sentimental is the way I live, so I visited the festival yesterday. Even though the crowds were immense, craft booths were filled, and people were cutting so much in line it would make my 2nd graders cry...I still loved it. Especially the food!!

THINKING: This is my very first Currently. I can remember before I tried my typing fingers at blogging, I would read countless Currently posts wishing I could make one somehow. I am filled with excitement that I am linking up with so many of you to share! 

WANTING: This year I have been blessed with a planning partner in the 2nd grade hallway. She taught school when I went there, but hasn't taught 2nd for some time. So twice a week we stay late and plan the next week. (We joke that if we are wearing the same clothes the next day, our colleagues can infer where we slept.) This time and her company have been a God send. I still take work home nightly; however, the weekends are not as consumed as last year.
What a typical planning night looks like.

NEEDING: This whole summer, I worked on refocusing my life. I knew if I "trained" during the summer, these practices and mind-sets would be easier to have during the school year. Recently many of my devotions and readings have been about being at peace within yourself, giving generously, and being thankful in everything. Thus, why I pray whole-heartedly to keep taking steps to outlive my life.

1. In high school, I took Spanish thinking I would use it more than French. Guess where I went in high school? Yeah, Paris. The teacher who taught French is very dear to me, so I would love to learn from her and revisit the captivating city. 
2. My IG friends have been such a blessing to me, that I just want to drive or fly to where they are and hang out for a day or two. With many blogger-meet-ups happening, I am so tempted to just hop in the car Friday and be back to teach Monday.
3. I didn't really get to go on a vacation this summer which is all right, but if I could have, I would have gone to TN or the Carolinas, PA or CO, anywhere with the smell of pine trees, the look out of mountains, and the comfort of a cabin.

CURRENTLY: I am thankful that you took a moment to step into my life. Thank you.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday--July 2nd-

Happy Wednesday! This is the first time I've linked up for Wordless Wednesday hosted by Sugar and Spice 
Love the concept and having a brief insight into your world. 


This whole stripe wearing thing has been a recent development for me. I wasn't really a fan of the repetitive print...well, now keep being drawn to this clothing pattern. Always on the hunt for it in the rows of clothing racks. 

So my question to all you fashionable teachers (I know you are. Your IG posts don't lie.), what pattern or clothing style calls to you when you shop? Or should I say when you find the time to shop.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Teaching Tribune Summer Bloggin' Party- Monday Meet Up

The Teaching Tribune is at it again to bring all of us teacher bloggers closer together. Meeting you all has been a blessing to me. I credit having such a student oriented and creative year to those of you whom I have met through blogging and IG, especially this lovely teacher, Alisha! There is certainly a spark in her that makes her stand out in our blogging and TPT world! Blogging bestie, this one is for you! 

Check out her blog here! 

I would just love to meet her in real life one day! No doubt, we'd laugh the day away!


I teamed up with two favs for this Monday Meet Up. I am posting about Alisha, Alisha is posting about Amna, and Amna posted about me! Amna and I met through a giveaway on her Facebook page! I was so thankful for her product that I wanted to make sure she knew how beneficial it was. We haven't stopped talking since. I promise when you check out her blog and TPT, you'll see why.

Thank you for visiting me! Be sure to stop by Alisha and Amna's blog too! They are just a click away! 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Five for Fri..Saturday: May 24

End of the year can make you feel like you are standing on your head! So why not link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching on a Saturday? This was our last FULL week of school! And thanks to Memorial Day, our last Monday! 

Six more days...crazy as it may be, I still won't tell my 2nd graders how many more days I have left with them. They have figured it out though. Why must I teach math! :) 

Anyway, here's what's been going on! (Most pics from Instagram)

This year I am going to stay ahead of the "last minute" syndrome! I went out 2 weeks, 2 weeks (believe it), early and collected most of the items I needed for the end of the year. I posted the first picture on my Instagram and the response was priceless. So thankful we are in this together, my teacher friends!

And an hour later with a few dollars left to my name - this is what I came out with-
I read through every book! My kids will gobble them up since we have been fact detectives for most of the year. And the pencils, I had to hold back buying a pack for myself.

Compiling the books I purchased from Jason's Online Classroom! This is my writing plan for the next six days! 

I love mail. Letters. Online Orders. And Jamberry of course!!! (Not, bills. I don't like bills.) So here's a little sequencing for you.

First these came.

Then this happened.

Which led to this.

My lovely Jamberry Girl, Ashley Marquez, has been working with me to host a Jamberry Online Party! She has been phenomenal! Not only have I loved working with her, but when I talk to my friends offline, they have said how warm and inviting she is! This girl has a heart for people and for Jamberry. The little things in life. Check her out please! You won't be sorry! 

Anyone else's students take the NWEA test? We do three times a year as an adaptive tool to measure growth and achievement! I am so proud of how my students performed! They were focused and motivated. I was in awe really. I know so much of testing is also a mental game which is why I find More Time 2 Teach's top secret motivation cards life changing. (Blog post to follow because I love them so and truly believe in her product.)

Each family dolled up the cards with encouraging words and drawing, then sent them back to school. Just before every test as the students set anxiously at their computer screens, I passed out these card. Their reaction = no words to describe. Just imagine. 

We also wrote two "I cans" every morning and posted them to our chart! These kids responses were so thoughtful! How far they have come. We did one for math as well (in future post). I would have the students read one of theirs in front of the class. Then I would respond with a form of, "You sure can!" Then they stuck it to the paper. They had to share their other one with two partners and then with me as they walked into breakfast! Positive self talk- I believe in it! 

Just a little more proof why I am wanting to hold onto this class for as long as I can. For the 3 days of inside recess last week, I walked in to find my kids hiding. 
(I love hearing the, "She's coming...shhh...(student's name)..shh..she's coming!) 
When I turn on the lights, they jump out and yell, "Surprise!" while holding their signs. 
They have my heart. And they are mine. 

Lastly, due to inventory this week, we didn't have library as a special. So we did something we all love! The picture says it all. 

Wishing you all the best of weekends! Thanks for stopping by! This newbie sure appreciates it!
For those of you on summer vacation---take it all in- I have no doubt you deserve it!