Monday, October 31, 2011

Holly Bloggy Christmas giveaway #2

  Have you signed up for Holly Bloggy Christmas yet? I did and I would really love for you to sign and maybe you might be my secret pal. Entries end today at midnight! Plus make sure you are on the list because Holly Bloggy Christmas is having 9 giveaways, well 8 weekly giveaways now. This next giveaway of Holly Bloggy Christmas is for handmade Christmas cards. Wouldn't that be awesome to be different than all those store bought generic ones? When your family and friends opens mail from you it will be a refreshing surprise this holiday season. So stop on over at Ms. Preppy's blog and enter to win the cards AFTER you sign up on her blog to do Holly Bloggy Christmas. You have to be a participant before you can enter the giveaways!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blog On Fire Award

 Wow to my greatest achievement in all of my blogging was that I am nominated for the Blog On Fire Award thanks to Mrs. Bee's Kindergarten. Thank you, thank you for this award. I always thought in order to be nominated I had to be doing some spectacular stuff but in all reality I guess I was nominated for being me.

 To accept my award I need to tell you 7 things about myself and nominate 7 more blogs. That should be super hard because there are so many out there that I like. But I will give it my best shot!

1. I currently live in Virginia but I am originally from California. I know such a big west coast/east coast jump.

2. I am so in love with B & B's. If I could just go to a bed and breakfast every time I vacationed I would be set. My mother actually took me to one on our trip to Elizabeth City, NC this summer. 

3. I am a daredevil at heart. My dream is to one day go hang gliding somewhere. By myself is cool, I've already been para-sailing by myself and that was AWESOME!

4. I LOVE to write. I love writing in my blogs but my original passion is writing poetry. I was a published writer in high school. Now I just write my blogs and add to my Bucket List. 

5. I'm itching to travel the world with my first stops being Cardiff, Wales (Torchwood, anyone?), Scotland, Ireland (Killarney) and Cornwall, England (to walk on water...).

6. I love reading books on my Kindle, I can't believe I used to read paperback books before. And fight to keep them in my library, now I just build my Kindle library. 

7. And I LOVE finding new ideas and games while "blog stalking" that I can take back to my kids and make learning more fun and hands-on. 

My 7 nominated blogs for the Blog On Fire Award:
1. Definitely Confessions of a Homeschooler, she has TONS of cool stuff and the fact that she has her own Pre-K and Kindergarten curriculum with lots of fun activities has made this year so far very enjoyable for me and my kinders.
2. Annie over at The Moffatt Girls (I think I stumbled on her and I am so glad I did, make sure to check out her Ready 2 Read Units) And she is up for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Award. Check her out and vote!
3. Fran over at Kindergarten Crayons!
4. Ingles 360, offers a lot of early reader activities as well as Spanish activities. My kinders are so loving Spanish that I have tried to incorporate some into our daily activities.
5. Herding Kats in Kindergarten (another Circle of Moms Top 25 nominee)
6. Mrs. Wills Kindergarten  I love her posts, especially her Peek into her week posts where you can gather different ideas for your lesson plans for the week.
7. What's the Buzz in First?

 Wow that was definitely hard to pick 7 blogs for this award especially when I have over 200 blogs that I keep watch over. So I guess they would have to be Honorable Mentions:) Enjoy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

So yesterday was NOT the ideal day for our kindergartners to go to the Pumpkin Patch. All the other grade levels that went before us has BEAUTIFUL field trip days. Well we had a cold, drizzly day... First of all we had to have a consensus on our kindergarten team whether or not we were going to go when we got that squared away then we had to deal with the chaperones. Once they were on board then we could actually get on the bus and get there... I made us late too, we had trouble getting the check written, sorry team!

I don't know about anyone else but the closest pumpkin patch to us is 45-1 hour away. So the kids of course were asking about when we would get there and "are we there yet?" When we did eventually get there we noticed that there were covered hayrides... SCORE! Because at that time it was lightly raining. We got off the bus and had to split our group into two hayrides at two different locations. But that was okay because at least I had all of my students and chaperones with me. Last year I had to split my class and only go with about 9 of my students so we missed the whole class experience.

But this year my kids quickly got off the hayride into a field of pumpkins. However right next to our field was a line of TONS of pumpkins... but we couldn't go there because they were for consumer use only. It kind of bummed us out but we got over it because there was so much to choose from in our current patch. What is it about the kids (kindergarten kids) trying to pick the biggest pumpkin but refusing to carry it? I made sure to tell my students before I let them explore that they would have to pick a pumpkin that fit into their bookbags or that they could carry in their hands. Many of my students picked the biggest one they could find then complained about it being too heavy. Most of them I was able to catch them before heading back onto the hayride so they could get something a big lighter. But I still missed some who complained the whole way back about how heavy it was, but that their mommy said that they should pick a big pumpkin. You know mommy, that is what they did! But couldn't carry it.:(

And our guide was so nice in giving us teachers a vine that hand the pumpkin life cycle on it. Of course the vine didn't make it back in tact but that is okay because I showed my students the little tiny green pumpkin, the medium green/orange pumpkin and our orange flower. Many of my students asked if the green one and the flower were going to grow into an orange pumpkin and I had to tell them that they would not because once you take them out of the ground they no longer have the food they need so they cannot grow any more. So of course they said that we should take it back so they could grow again. How cute is that?

So I learned a few things on this trip... my kids do not go anywhere long distances on a regular basis so I can't wait to we take them to the zoo! Make sure to send out a reminder to parents to please dress their child in warm clothes as we will be having an outdoor field trip. And make sure all chaperones want to attend and do all the planned activities with our group, if not they can definitely stay at school and not try to ruin the trip for the rest of the group. Oh and make sure I take my nausea pill before sitting in the front of the bus on the way back to school on windy, twisty roads... I was so sick and nauseous by the time we got back to school. Yuck! I sat in the back on the way to the patch but didn't think when I was sitting in the front how I would feel.

Overall it was a good field trip... I am exhausted though, 2 field trips in one week! See ya!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


 I just wanted to take a moment and say that my kids seem to really enjoy the way groups are set up now. Our 4 stations are pretty quiet and those who should be on the computers during each rotation are learning when they go. Once I start teaching station, this week we were testing for PALS, It is sure to be really quiet at the tables too.
 Do you feel as if you are in too many meetings and you have too much paperwork to do? Do you feel as if you aren't really teaching the kids, just testing them all the time? Well I definitely feel like that. Yesterday I lost my "cool" which isn't like me but I definitely lost it and of course was very apologetic to my teammates who witnessed it. But it is really frustrating to not know our boundaries with our administration and what the protocol is to report a serious incident... it changes every week. I think if I survive this year it will be an act of God because he is really helping me keep it all together, for the most part. But then I think I actually love my job of teaching my class, some of my students need A LOT of help and I just couldn't leave them in the middle of the year. But some things have to change... the first to go would have to be all these meetings. It seems as if we have a staff meeting every week or we have an all call staff meeting during/after dismissal about the minimal things.
 Well I am not going to dwell in it. I just want to get through the year with out anymore mishaps. I am thinking more on the lines of our first field trip today. We are going to the Botanical Gardens for a garden tour. I am excited because it will be our time to see how the kids do before we go to the Pumpkin Patch on Friday. I hope it will be a nice day today too.
 Oh and has everyone signed on to the Holly Bloggy Christmas, the blog world's version of secret Santa? You have until Monday October 31st to get it done. And maybe I might have you for my secret pal:) And they are having their first WEEKLY giveaway which ends Friday October 28th, so make sure you are a participant so you can win the prize! Enjoy!

Monday, October 24, 2011


 I stayed late... I mean late on Friday so I could get my classroom moved around. I needed to change my kids' seats, BADLY. They were getting under each other's skin and every minute was spent saying "he touched me" or "move your stuff off my name", etc. I just knew we needed a change. I made sure to tell the students that when they came in on Monday that they would have new seats and even some friends would have to sit by themselves. I don't think they quite understood what I was really going to do but I think they will soon. I will make sure to post about their reactions.:)

 I also needed to change their station groups. With our reading program my kids are at 3 different stations throughout the morning. And I only had 3 groups with 6 kids in each. Last year it worked okay to have that many but this year, my younger bunch, it does not work out. So I have added a station, word work, and added on another group. I added on word work because I am definitely fascinated by Daily 5 and I wish I could incorporate that into our reading instead of our current reading program. So I've been "stalking" several blogs to get some ideas for my word work station. I am excited to try my kids out on the sentence read-trace-cut-glue that Mrs. Wills created. They are wonderful back-to-school sentences that the students read then cut and try to glue the sentence to match the one they read. My kids did pretty good with this on Friday. It was my first time trying it and I felt that it would be good to have it as my 4th station as I work with my students on cutting out their word sorts for the week. I know I can't put word sorts into the station without showing them what to do, so that is my mission this week.

 After figuring out my station and all its contents, then I tried to tackle the task of forming groups. Making sure those students who couldn't get along with each other were not in a group together. I also decided to tackle the task of figuring out how to get my kids on the computers. Last week, I think my kids used the computers one time and not everyone got to use them. So I stayed up late Friday evening into Saturday (4am) to figure it out. See once I start something I have a hard time putting it down just so I could do those basic things like eat or sleep. My mind gets so focused on getting it done and figured out that I can't concentrate until I have mastered it. But I did it! I figured out how all  my students were coming to me at teaching station, how to leave enough students working together at stations AND how to make sure everyone gets a chance on the computers TWICE a week. Fridays are for free or makeup times. My hope is that as my students are able to get on the computer more that they will know what to do when they get there and especially what to do when they get to the computer lab. And of course since I made this all so super complicated that no one will understand my code, I had to make a schedule for myself just in case I forgot the method to my madness.

 I am glad that I decided to make these changes because this week my kids sort of have a "short" week of stations. I only say a "short" week of stations because 2 days out of this week we will be going on 2 field trips. So my kids will have some experience with this new setup but for a short time period, just to get them used to everything. Well I better get some sleep since I have A LOT to do in the morning before my kids come in..

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Professional Development

Our district had make-up professional development yesterday and on Thursday. I say make-up because we were supposed to have professional development at the end of August but it was cancelled due to the hurricane. So we had to give up our Thursday evening (4:15-7:15) and our half day (1:00-4:00) to go to professional development workshops. I didn't so much mind the time on Friday but having to go in on a Thursday just after you finished getting the kids on the bus you have to go learn some more. Ugh!!

Well of course our team got there late, I directed them to the wrong school (my bad!) and we needed to get directions to the school. Luckily my teammate had a gps in her car... genius! So when we go there, the high school wasn't in the best of neighborhoods and we were really not feeling parking the car in the neighborhood. But I kept saying to myself this is what my students have to live everyday and it wouldn't kill us for 2 days to be there too. When we got inside the school we got our schedule of classes and rooms but the way the high school was laid out, we got so lost and confused we wondered how the new 9th graders ever figured it out on their first week of school. But we ended up splitting off so we could learn. My 2 teammates and I stopped in one that was given by our other colleagues so we knew they wouldn't mind if we came in late. It didn't apply to us, kindergartners, but like all workshops kindergarten teachers can ALWAYS figure out a way to dial the upper grades information down to our level. Plus we just wanted to get credit (sign in sheet) for being there during that session.

So 2nd session is really the reason I am writing this post. I went to a workshop called Developing Number Sense. I wanted to attend because I am doing the math lesson plan for my team this year and I want all the ideas I can get my hands on. By the way... if you have any good kindergarten ideas for math, please send them my way. Okay so the two presenters showed us the books by Kathy Richardson which most of the teachers in there said they had not seen those books, even though they are in our school library. Isn't it weird how teacher resources are never shared with the teachers?! We got a HUGE stack of blackline masters to use with the books and got hands-on experience with some of the games in one of the books. But one part of the presentation that stuck with me was called Funny Numbers. We were told to repeat each word after one of the presenters: Seize (seize), nudge (nudge), jingle (jingle), drift (drift), ramp (ramp), groan (groan), spruce (spruce). She asked us to repeat them back to our partners. Well of course we could not because we learned them pretty fast. So then she put the words into perspective. She told us to think about the words as numbers that a new kindergartener or ESL student would have to learn. Then she repeated the words using her fingers and having us repeat the words only 3 at a time and we repeated them back to our partners better because we understood what the words meant and we learned them slower. So throughout the whole presentation we had to use these "numbers" to explain our selves. So if we were counting cubes and we had only 3 cubes. She would ask us how many we had and we would have to say "jingle".
I was so floored when we had to count that way because it does make sense when we ask students to repeat after us when we are doing calendar but they really have no earthly idea how much 28 is on the calendar. They are just rote counting then we wind up frustrated when we realize that are students can't count a group of objects... well that is because we don't give them enough hands-on activities with them. I can't wait to go to my school on Monday (yes we have school unfortunately) and find these books. I even offered up one of the activities I remembered to my teammates for this week's lesson plan on sorting.
                     It's called shake and sort. 
 The gist of it is, that you have a various amount of cubes (unfix or snapping) of different colors put into a bucket, bag and they shake them up, then pour them onto the table. Students then sort out their cubes by color. Then they have to say how many they have the least of (a question we don't often ask them first) and what color has the most? which ones have the same? Then they can put their cubes back and get more cubes to sort out. But it is a good activity to get them to sort and count. 

The object is to give students the hands-on experience with objects that help them associate them with numbers not just with rote counting as we do in calendar. Tactile experiences that they can use to develop number sense. We were shown a video where 3 students were given a pile of x amount of unfix cubes and asked to count the objects, they were kindergartners. But 2 of the students would touch each object but then touch and count them over and over again. One student would touch and push out the objects once she counted them. With the two who counted over and over again, the teacher would take away some and ask how many which they would show that same strategy again. The teacher would take away more to make it less than 10 and have the students say how many there were then have them count out the cubes. If they got it wrong, she asked them to count it again. Eventually they got the number right but phew they had a lot of tries. Like some kids could look at a group of numbers and tell exactly how many there are, they of course are further along in number sense than the students who need to forever recount the objects when asked the question how many are there? We learned that was when students had difficulty remembering the number so would have to count again... we were given a term but I can't quite remember it now... haha!

But overall, I now have a new drive for math and making sure my students work in small groups rather than whole groups. I feel as if my students might actually get to do stations this year... I wasn't feeling it when I saw my group of kids but now I know that they NEED it.