Saturday, June 30, 2012

Primary Pizzazz Part One

Yesterday, I promised I would post who I was passing the Lovely Blog Award to, so here goes:


Create Teach Share

Creating Bookworms

Down Under Teacher

Run Miss Nelsons got the Camera

Sharing Kindergarten


Under the Alphabet Tree
I didn't notice this award on any of these sites.  If you've already gotten it, congratulations!  You win again!
On another note, after posting all these cute blog buttons, I realize how much I really HATE mine!  I've tried to make 2 or 3 with no success.  If any of you out there can tell me how you make such cute, cute buttons, pleae let me know (and it has to be easy as I am blog button challenged, shall we say)!
Ok, onto our book study...As I mentioned yesterday, the first part of the book is titled "Adding Sparkle to Your Teaching".  This grabbed my attention right off the bat, 'cause who doesn't love a little sparkle, right?  The first thing she mentions is "Ten Steps to Excellent Writing with Primary Kids". 
I have to admit that when I read these steps, I realized that I've really been doing my kids a disservice.  In the rush to "get things done", I've been pushing my kids to write before they've really had the chance to think about and plan their writing.  Before I go too far, here are the 10 steps Forney mentions:
1. Talking
2. Brainstorming
3. Talking again
4. Kinesthetic Activity
5. Drawing
6. Writing
7. Reading
8. Revising
9. Editing
10. Sharing
Due to the length of this post already, I'm just going to talk about the first 5 steps today, and we'll talk about the last 5 tomorrow.
Now, I'm a little embarrassed to say it, but in the past, my writing instruction has been more like:
1. Introduce a topic
2. Brainstorm
3. Write
4. Edit
5. Publish
Hey, I told you I've never considered myself a writing teacher!
So, in thinking about the steps that are missing in my instruction:
Talking - I've really been guilty about trying to stop a lot of talking in my room.  I mean, when they start to talk, they really get off task and out of control.   I've realized, though that I just need to teach the kids HOW to talk.  Forney states, "Talking elicits concentration, ownership of the topic, sharing of information and excitement."  I never really thought of it that way.
Talking again - Wait, what?  I'm still getting used to letting them talk and now I have to let them talk again?  Yep, but this time, it is more focused and they are sharing with a partner.  We started to use this partner share strategy last year and it worked out pretty well.  We would tell the kids to share with their partner and then put their hands up and together (picture a high five that sticks) when they were done. 
Kinesthetic Activity - This is the one I'm most excited about.  Letting the kids experience something related to what they are going to write about.  It might be a short dance, food, movement, etc.  I think this one will really get the kids excited and focused on what they are going to write. 
Drawing - At our school, the kids have always drawn first in kindergarten and then done the writing first in first grade, so letting them draw before they write is a little different for me.  I think that it might help them as another way to plan out and focus their writing.  She does say that once the kids are used to drawing before they write, you can assign the drawing for homework. 
So, what does your writing instruction look like?  Share your thoughts and then come back tomorrow to talk about the last 5 steps!

Friday, June 29, 2012

An Award and Some Writing Pizzazz

First things first - I want to thank Kristi and Crystal at Teaching Little Miracles and Betsy at Coco Goes to First for the Lovely Blog Award!  You really have to head to their blogs and check them out. 

So, here are the rules for this Lovely Award:

Once you receive the award, you must follow 3 rules:
1.  Follow the person that gave you the award
2.  Link back to the person that gave you the award
3.  Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers
Ok, numbers 1 and 2 - check!  Now, number 3 is going to be the hard one, but I'm always up for a challenge!  It might take me a while to find 15 new blogs, but...I love searching for and finding new blogs!  I just ask that you give me until tomorrow to find them, okie dokie?  I'll post the new ones tomorrow.
Now, onto some writing pizzazz.  Our state has a state writing assessment that the kids take in fourth grade.  Our school consistently has the top writing scores in our district and one of the things they use to help them teach writing are tips and tricks from Melissa Forney.  Apparently, she's a masterful writing teacher as our teachers go to her workshops almost every year with great results.  So that got me thinking, since we know that we have to start teaching good writing habits and skills right from the beginning, shouldn't early grades have the chance to learn from the best as well?
Well, I found this book last summer, and never got around to reading it. 
So, this summer my goal is to read all of the books I bought to read last  year, lol!  I thought I would read and share some of my thoughts about the book.  Let me tell you first that I consider myself a HORRIBLE writing teacher.  I never enjoyed writing and have always thought that it is so subjective that it's hard to teach.  Hopefully, this book will help me out. 
Here's a little excerpt that describes the book:
"In the pages of this book, you will find ideas, songs, games, make-n-take manipulatives, lesson plans, recipes, poems, and readers theater that have been conceived, blueprinted, and tested with real kids and teachers."
The book even comes with a CD that is chock full of songs you can use while teaching writing skills.  The book is basically divided into two sections: Part One is titled, "Adding Sparkle to Your Teaching" and gives some getting started info.  Part Two is made up of 30 Writing Skill Units from recognizing and writing letters to publishing on the computer.  Each writing skill unit has 6 sections: a list of supplies you'll need, a group lesson, a learning center activity, independent writing activity, vocabulary list, and a literature connection. 
If you'd like to join in reading this book with me, you can find it here:
Primary Pizzazz Writing with CD (Audio)
Or, you can just follow my posts here and chime in with your thoughts, tips, or tricks about writing!  I'll be starting with Part One: Adding Sparkle to Your Teaching tomorrow.  See you then!

Monday, June 25, 2012

New Blogs

Don't ya just love it when you find a new blog out there.  It's really an addiction.  I currently follow like a million of your wonderful blogs, but I still get excited when I find a new one.  Luckily, "collecting" blogs on my blog roll doesn't take up as much space as collecting books, lol!

Anyhoo,  here are 2 new blogs that I found today and they look really awesome.  The first one is Tonya's Treats for Teachers.  She's trying to make it to 200 followers and she is soooo close.  I just follwed her and I was 198.  When she gets to 200, she's gonna have a giveaway (and who doesn't love a good giveaway?)!  So jump right over there and help her out!

The next one I found was Kickin' It In Kinder.  She has a super cute blog with an owl theme ( I just love owls).  Head on over and follow her too!

So, what about you?  Found any new blog buddies lately?  Let me know - who are your favorites or newest discoveries?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Don't ya just love it when a great idea pops into your head outta nowhere?  Of course, when that happens I have to share.  A while ago I found this really cute site called Peonies and Poppyseeds.  They make the cutest party printables you have ever seen.  I subscribe to most sites through email (so I'm sure not to miss any posts) and I've been getting the most adorable party printables, all the while thinking, "I would love to throw a party and have the time to make all the decorations myself." 

Now, don't get me wrong, in my Pinterest world, I am soooo crafty.  I throw parties all the time with cute handmade signs and banners.  But, in the real world, I am more of a Party City type of mom.  Go, buy everything, and just hang it up. 

Uh, yeah, but what does this have to do with teaching?  Well, when I got this set in my email yesterday:

it suddenly occured to me that these would not only make super cute party decorations, but I could sooo use these in the classroom!!!  I'm thinking I could take the round labels, print them out and laminate them, and then add math facts, sight words, whatever to the back to make a cute memory game.  Or, I could use the labels as adorable name tags, journal labels, the possibilities are endless!!!

The great thing is, they have these in all kinds of themes:

How cute would these be for an Olivia themed game?

Yep, even holiday themed ones!

The BEST part!!!!  They are free!  You have to jump over to Peonies and Poppyseeds and follow them.  They are on FB too and they have a newsletter you can subscribe to!  Happy crafting!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Hey everybody,

   Just wanted to let you know that in less than 4 days, I will be relaxing here:

Yep, headed up to Kentucky to see my Mama!  No cell phone, S..L..O..W internet, but peaceful, relaxing, lots of time to read...ahhhh!

While I'm there, I thought I would catch up on some of the books I bought to read last year (and never got around to).  I'll be reading these:
        I'll be trying to post my thoughts/ideas as I read through these books.  If anybody is planning on reading any of these, let me know - we can read through them together.  Of course, I'm planning on reading some just for fun books too!  Can't work all summer, can we?  Hopefully, the internet in the middle of nowhere will cooperate and let me post regularly.  If not, well, I guess I'll see you in July when I get back!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sight Word Advice

As our district moves to Common Core next year,  I am spending the summer rethinking and planning.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very excited about the switch because our district is really freeing us to teacch the way we want to.  Which, for me means more thematic teaching and LOTS more integration across subject areas.

Hopefully, you can help.  We use Treasures and I really don't like their spelling and vocabulary component.  I really want to come up with a new sequence of spelling patterns and sight words.  So, what do youguys use?  Fry words, Dolch words...?  How about spelling?  Do you do weekly spelling lists/tests?  Word families?  I'm starting from scratch, so any ideas are welcome!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Welcome to Summer!!!!

Sorry I've been gone for a while, but the end of the year craziness will do that to 'ya!  I have to say that this is the first year that I've actually cried when my kids left.  I really enjoyed this year and I hope next year I'll luck out and have a great class again.    We got out on Thursday, and then on Friday my daughter and I left for her safety patrol field trip.

We went to Discovery Cove.  This was our first trip there and it was sooo much fun!  We got to swim with the dolphins which was a huge treat for my animal loving daughter as you can see:
I loved snorkeling and swimming with all kinds of fish and stingrays.  It was so much fun!

So, I can now say that I got a head start on my summer goals.  My goals are:
1. having fun with my kids - I feel like they are a little neglected during the school year.
2.  read for fun - yep, just need to lose myself in a good novel
3.  plan for next year - you didn't think I'd get through summer not doing ANYTHING school related, did you?  We're starting with common core next year, so I've got some planning to do!

So how about you?  What are your summer plans?