Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Name Writing Assessment

Here is a quick tool I plan to use this year to assess name writing. 
At the end of each month have your students write their name on a Post-it and glue it to that month.
January will be a time to notice growth!
I will probably record students' thoughts because
the box is pretty small.
If you teach first grade you may assess
first and last name.

Click Here for Template 

When students come into school each day 
I use the Name Ticket Strategy from Nellie Edge's Site.
Click here to read about it

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Guided Reading Books

This post will share with you some guided reading books I have come across over the years and thought they are worth sharing.


The KING School series are only a dollar a book!! 
I use these books in my classroom and think they are affordable and excellent!!! You can check them out on their site. 


I recently went to a workshop, and the instructor shared these little books called Tiny Treasures... I fell in love immediately! The books are small (4"x4") that is why they are called Tiny Treasures. 
The deal is you can get 48 titles for 70 dollars. If you click on their website, you can see that the book levels range from A/1 to E/7. Although small, the books are beautiful.
There is a great range of fiction and nonfiction, and I think the size of the book will be appealing to kids. 
Tiny Treasures 


I love the Penguin Young Readers series.
I am a HUGE fan because they use the Fountas and Pinnell leveling system, and it's right on the book!  I also think they are well- written stories. You can see above the level is highlighted. I have found these books at the grocery store, Barnes and Nobel and Amazon. They are reasonably priced around $3.50, and they are 32 pages long. 
For the level A/B books it is almost three little books in one. 
You can also find these books in the Scholastic book order. 


I was lucky to take a Teacher College Reading Workshop this summer, and the instructor Christine shared this great tip. When working on retelling with your kindergartners, you want to use books with strong narratives, but you should also use little guided reading books because that is what most kids are reading. 
I love that suggestion! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Back To School Book

I was at the library this week and came across the book Rufus Goes To School by Kim T. Griswell
The story begins...

Every day, Rufus Leory Williams (the third) turned the pages of his favorite book. He looked at every picture. He made stories to go with them. But he could not read the words. 
Rufus knew just what to do. He would go to school and learn to read. But first, he needed a backpack. 

As the story goes along Rufus has a big problem, the principal will not let pigs go to school. Rufus has to convince principal Lipid that he should go to school. 

I think this is the perfect book to kick off reading workshop time. Just like Rufus, we want our students to read the pictures and learn about the words in school.         

There are so many teaching possibilities with this book!                   Happy reading!

Some September Books
What books do you plan to read at the start of school?
I would love to hear from you! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Writing Workshop

I love teaching writing workshop. I think it is the most important part of my teaching day. My students become better readers and writers because we write everyday.

I have been teaching writing workshop for the past twenty years. If you told me that my kindergartener’s would be writing personal narrative’s with voice, animal research books with lots of facts, persuasive letters with strong reasons, and poetry from the heart, I would think it would not be possible… but it is.

Little kids become strong writers when they are given the opportunity to write, have choices in their topics, get teacher guidance on their work and see lots of writing demonstrations from an expert writer.

In my kindergarten class I do a lot of interactive writing to help students learn the conventions of writing. During Interactive, writing, we are creating a short message that focuses on many of the skills we want students to do independently. For example, if I see that many students are not putting spaces between words, I would pull those students together and we would write a few sentences focusing on spacing. I also do a lot of writing and thinking aloud to the whole group.
Interactive Writing

I also use lots of children’s books to teach writing. After reading Katie Wood Rays book Wonderous Words, it changed the way I look at children’s picture books. Now, when I pick up a picture book I always ask myself, “How can this book help me teach my students how to be a better writer?” What is the writer doing in this story that makes it a good book? Can my students try this out?

I have two boys in kindergarten this year. It’s amazing how quickly the year goes by.  Prior to entering kindergarten if I had only one wish for my boy’s school year it would be that they have writing workshop. They have had a wonderful year in kindergarten. They have learned what it means to be a listener, a friend, a student, a reader, and many more important things, but they didn’t learn to be a writer.  

My kids did lots of worksheets that “prepared” them to learn about reading and writing. I do not believe worksheets teach kids anything about reading or writing. I think worksheets keep kids busy.

I think writer’s workshop should be happening in every kindergarten classroom, if we expect students to learn how to be confident readers and writers.

One of my sons made this picture the night before the last day of school. To me, this is something I will always cherish! He was feeling sad and expressed himself with words and pictures.

 Imagine what he would have written if he had the opportunity to write every day?

If you are thinking about doing writing workshop next year 
below is a list of books I recommend. 
Happy writing!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thinking Maps Thursday

If you use Thinking Maps in your classroom this week I have a Brace Map to share. 
The map below begins whole {body} to parts.
I saw this on Pinterest (the original source was not known).
 {My boys}

If you teach kindergarten you know that drawing people is something students work on all the time. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

I Spy Math

Here are some math addition story problems that go with the book 
I Spy Under the Sea by Edward Gibbs. 

I recently blogged about these books here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I Spy Books

I recently came across all of Edward Gibbs I SPY books, and I fell in LOVE! I know there are lots of I SPY books, at bookstores, but these are the best!!  All of his books have the perfect amount of print. 

I love how he has different series that have similar but slightly different formats. 
Letter Clue 
Describing Words {great for non-fiction}

I know playing I Spy is a popular game for my kids so making I SPY books will be a hit with kindergarteners. 

Below are some I Spy Templates that are similar to 
the format of Edward Gibbs books.

click here for template
I am playing around with Explain Everything this summer. Below is short, I SPY book my son made. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lois Ehlert

I am a big fan of Lois Ehlert books. Her bold bright illustrations and simple text are perfect for the primary classroom. I love how her story topics are things that kindergarteners can relate too. (snow, squirrels, leaves, vegetables)

Once you introduce her books to your students they can easily identify her writing craft, which includes her unique style of labeling illustrations throughout the book, and giving detailed information at the back of her books.

Lois recently published a book called Scraps. I read this book to my class and they were amazed and inspired by her life story. The cover of her book says it allnotes from a colorful life!

Just like her children’s books Lois’s book Scraps has captivating photographs, bold bright illustrations and just the right amount of information on each page. This book teaches students that they can get inspiration from everyday objects in their lives and what it means to be a writer, illustrator and artist.

I hope in the fall you read the book Scraps to your students.  Students will believe that they can write books just like Lois Ehlert.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Persuasive Writing

Recently we have been learning about persuasive writing in my class. This journey began by writing letters to the school principal asking for a class pet. Using a mentor text letter each day we would talk about the different parts we noticed of the letter and add them to ours. 

The anchor chart below outlines the different parts we learned about how to write a persuasive letter. 

On a different day we read the book TEN THINGS I CAN DO TO HELP THIS WORLD by Melanie Walsh. 

We reread this book a few times before we brainstormed a list of things that were important in our KINDERGARTEN WORLD. 

·      Walking in the hallway
·      Recycling paper
·      Putting classroom tools away
·      Caring for animals
·      Turning the light switch off
·      Turning running water off
·      Walking your dog
·      Drawing on two sides of the paper
·      Wearing sneakers on PE day
·      Returning library books on Tuesday
·      Eating healthy foods 

I also created a template for the students to create their persuasive posters. The template helps students with placement of the title, words and illustrations. 

Click here for template

Sticky-Note Book Recommendations

On a another day we learned about STICKY NOTE BOOK REVIEWS. Using a Post-it, students were encouraged to write about a book in order to persuade someone else to read that book. You can see an example of the anchor chart. Here are some of the guidelines I talked about with my class.
You need to know the book.
You want to write something “Catchy”
You want to try to tell something specific.