Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Sight Words That Make Sense

 Last year I really noticed that my students were struggling to grasp their sight words, so I did a LOT of research into best practices, programs, strategies, and new ways to teach them that would help them master them quickly and effectively. My team and I decided to go with differentiated sight words lists. I started searching for lists but just couldn't find what I wanted. Some came close, but none really fit what I felt gave my students the words they needed in the correct order to be able to write sentences from the start. So, my team and I decided to create our own list that makes sense. We started with the most basic words that kindergarten students need to write sentences and went from there. Each list has 10 words and is color coded. These words are from our district's list of required words.
The first 10 words are the words that all kindergarten students need to be able to know in order to write simple sentences and that you will find in most of the predictable books. They also fit into all of your beginning of the year themes (All About Me, Brown Bear, My Body, Friends, Apples, Fall). They just make sense.

So why go to all the trouble to do color coded lists? Well, we all know that our students come to us on many different levels. I had students this year who already knew how to read, so it seemed silly to have them working on the words "I" and "my" when they clearly needed more difficult words. So, this makes perfect sense. The second week of school I assessed each student to see how many words they knew and used that information to determine the list they would start on. I then sent home the list on color coded paper for them to use for practice at home.
Student Assessment of Sight Words
My students have found so much success by using words that they want to learn instead of eing forced to only work on the ones we are teaching. It helped improve their reading and writing! The set will be available in my TPT store very soon!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

ABC...easy as 123...

It's so much fun teaching Kinders to write their letters, isn't it? If you're lucky you've got one of those Zaner Bloser handwriting books that your school bought you and you can just teach them to your heart's content. We weren't so lucky at my school so we had to get creative and think of something easier and faster than using highlighters on lined paper. So, I created these handy dandy handwriting practice pages. My kinders love them! There is a line for the capital letter and a line for the lower case. They can trace and then write. Once they write the letter they have 6 pictures to look at. They find the 3 pictures that begin with the sound that the letter makes and they color them in. It's a simple activity that can give you some great information about their phonemic awareness ability. It could be a good formative assessment for letter formation and letter sound knowledge. You can grab it here at my TPT store! (click the picture below for the link to the item in my store)

Building Number Sense

The first couple of weeks in kindergarten we work on learning our numbers and building number sense. We use lots and lots of manipulatives to do this. We count everything, play counting games, count daily, do math journals to practice number writing, and just immerse ourselves in daily number practice. On Friday we had a "no break day" and we needed a fun way to get up and move while working on our math, so we turned our colored rug into a giant graph and did a team building activity to practice counting sets of numbers up to 5. I placed dry erase boards with numbers on them at the top of the rug and gave each table group their own box of manipulatives. The task was to work together to count out one set to match each number 1-5 and bring them to the rug to place in one of the squares under that number. Once the task was completed we had what looked like a giant graph of manipulatives that we could then count. 

Another fun activity to practice number sense was a domino sorting activity. I found these chip and dip trays at the Dollar Tree and placed colored dots for numbers 1-6 in each space. I then gave the students the box of dominoes and told them to count the dots and place the domino in the section that had the correct number. I didn't remove the dominoes higher than 6, I just told them to place them to the side. That was just additional counting practice for them. They really enjoyed this activity. Very little prep and lots of time of the floor. Perfect kindergarten learning activities!!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

There's a PLACE for us....the tens place, that is

It's that time of year again, the time we kindergarten teachers absolutely cringe thinking about...teaching place value. I don't know about you but I really think it's THE hardest concept for kinders to grasp. I've been doing a lot of researching and seeking of information to find ways and theories behind it to help me teach it in a more effective manner. I decided to be intentional with everything I did this year while teaching math to make sure students get it and enjoy it at the same time. So, I started with Calendar Math. Each day we do Daily Depositor and Paper Clip Collection where we teach place value. I honestly just did a lot of repeating of information. I also made one minor but huge change to my setup. I extended my hundreds chart to make it a 120 chart so they could see the extended pattern beyond 100 (which is the only 3 digit number on the 100's chart). Just seeing the numbers and counting to 120 has made big difference. They are extending their thinking beyond 2 digit place value, which is helping them to understand it better. I also did DAILY PRACTICE of the teen numbers in the fall when we were teaching number recognition. Each day we had a number of they day. We would write it, tally it, fill in the tens frame and write the number sentence to go with it. We did this every day in math journals for 2 weeks. By the end of the first week they were really getting it. Fast forward to this week where we are really breaking down the teen numbers and teaching the tens and ones. I decided to use the same thinking about teen numbers as I did with the 100's chart and extend their thinking beyond the teens in the hopes that it would help them better understand the concept. Each day in math journals we do a number of the day and it successive counterpart (11, 21, 31). I printed out tens frames onto Avery labels and gave each student 6 labels per day. We highlighted the group of ten and then put a label under the group. I started with 11. The students placed one label (group of ten) under the 1 (tens place) and then drew the extras in the ones place. We then counted using subitizing. Since we know that a filled tens frame is ten we don't have to count. We just touch it and say ten then count on from there to 11. We did the same thing with 21 and 31 to show that we are just building the place by adding one more group of ten. Here is a picture of what they look like.
During math workshop time we built upon this by building numbers beyond the teens using cube trains for our tens and buttons for our extras. I wrote a number and the students pulled in the correct groups of ten and extras. Then we counted each place and I wrote the number again emphasizing that, "43 is 4 groups of ten and 3 extras". The lights came on! It's amazing how helpful it is when we stretch just beyond the standard to teach a concept. I hope you find this helpful. You can get these pages and the coordinating labels for FREE in my TPT store under the listing PLACE VALUE FREEBIE FOR MATH JOURNALS. Click HERE for the link.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Round and Round and Do-ceri-do

Raise your hand if you've wondered about how you use ActiveInspire or ActiveStudio on your iPad. Ok, good. Here's the bad news- iOS doesn't support the software necessary to run the board. Want the good news? There's a way. Have you heard of Doceri? It's a program that allows you to manipulate your smart board via the wireless connection through your laptop. It's amazingly easy to use. Here's what you do:
1) Go to this link and download the program onto your computer that runs your smartboard. The free trial says 30 days, but I've been using mine for about 5 months. You can purchase the whole program for $30.

2) Download the free Doceri app onto your iPad.
3) Run Doceri on your computer and you will see the startup screen. There will be a couple of options to link your iPad. Choose one of the options.
4) Open Doceri on your iPad and choose the option "Through a computer running Doceri"
5) Once it syncs with your computer you are able to manipulate your computer via the iPad. This gives you the freedom to walk around your room and do the things you need to do on your computer, including running your smartboard. You can open flipcharts via the iPad and let students manipulate them on the iPad without having to leave their seat. It's awesome. So go, try, love, and share. It's an amazing thing that will free you up to do what you love to do....TEACH!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

I've been using iPads in my classroom for the past 2 years and I can't tell you enough how much I love them. The possibilities are endless as to what they can be used to do. One of my biggest issues, though, was not being able to mirror it to my board without using a cable. It really limited what I wanted to do with it. I searched and searched and tried to find a way. I mean, with the face of technology today WHY wouldn't there be way?  At the end of the school year my school went wireless and opened up a whole new world of possibilities for using technology in the classroom. I absolutely have to share my new favorite thing. Are you sitting down? I found a way to mirror my iPad without using a cable. That's right! Completely wireless and in the hands of students for whole group lessons. Here's how to do it. First of all you need to be running iOS 7 or higher on your device so that you have the AirPlay feature. Next, you purchase a program on your computer called Air Serve.  http://www.airserver.comIt costs $12 iif you use your school e-mail and set up an educational account. It will authorize your computer, the one that is hooked up to your Interactive White Board, to use the program. If you want to try it out before you buy there is a free 7-day trial, but wait until you will be in your classroom to do the trail as it ends 7 days from download. Once you have these 2 things in place you simply start the program on your computer that is running your board, then you turn on the AirServer on your iPad, find your computer in the menu and turn on "mirror". Now your iPad is mirrored to your board wirelessly. It has totally made parts of my job easier and more fun for the students. Disclaimer- check with your IT person and make sure it's allowed before you do this. Some schools or districts might have tight security settings that could prohibit it from passing your firewall. You're welcome!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Keeping It Fresh

I love literacy center time. It's a time when my students are actively engaged in reading and writing, with a few play centers thrown in to break it up a bit. The favorite center is Write The Room with Pocket Chart being a close second. I noticed recently that they didn't really know what to do at Word Work and chose the same activities over and over again not fully recognizing the potential for learning. It was also located in my back corner and out of sight. My writing center was one that was never used. Never. Well, last week I decided to flip things up and switched the 2 centers, changed out some activities and freshened them up a bit. We had a mini lesson on the centers and I explained all the wonderful things they could do in each center. That morning, when it came time for centers, they actually argued over who would go to writing and Word Work. Really?? Isn't that funny? It's amazing how something as simple as switching 2 shelves and telling them about what I did made such an impact. One of the reasons I love teaching. Keeping things fresh and new is always an effective strategy!