Thursday, February 23, 2017

5 Tips to Get Writer's Workshop Up & Running

Writer's Workshop is one of my favorite things to teach my first graders.  5 years ago, I would have never said that.  But after traveling to NYC to go to Teacher's College, Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University with Lucy Calkins, I now love it just as much as reading.  Here are some tips to help you get started and love it too!

Friday, February 3, 2017

How to Plan an Interactive Read Aloud in 5 Easy Steps

Interactive Read Alouds are one of my favorite things to do in the classroom, as you may know. 😉  I love doing them with my class, but they can be a pain to prepare for.  Read on for 5 easy steps for preparing an Interactive Read Aloud.

These are the 5 steps to preparing an Interactive Read Aloud (IRA):
  1. Pick a book
  2. Read the book several times
  3. Determine a couple focus skills
  4. Choose vocabulary words
  5. Plan before, during and after reading activities.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Compliment Circles: Creating a Kind & Respectful Classroom

Compliment circles are one of our favorite activities and probably one of the most important things I do in my first grade classroom.  They teach my students how to give and receive compliments as well as create a classroom of respect and kindness.  Keep reading to see how you can transform your classroom into a compliment giving, respectful and kind classroom.

A compliment circle is something that I do in my classroom every couple of weeks.  I'd love to do it weekly, and that's my goal, but you know how it can be, it just doesn't happen.

So, I'm sure you're wondering what is is and how to do it.  

I got this idea after doing an activity similar to this at a professional development.  We did something like this with colleagues and I loved it and thought how could I incorporate this into my classroom? 

What Is It?

A compliment circle is an activity that teaches students how to give and receive compliments.  Essentially, the idea is that in a compliment circle every student will give a compliment to one classmate and every student will receive a compliment from another classmate.

How To Do It

To start a compliment circle, everyone, including the teacher, sits in a circle with their legs stretched out, like this picture.
Once you have your circle ready, I ask for a volunteer to start.  That person picks a classmate, says their name nice and loud so everyone can hear and then gives them a compliment.  The friend who received the compliment says "Thank you!" and then pulls their legs up to sit criss-cross applesauce.  That way the class knows who still needs to receive a compliment.  You could also have students put a thumb on their knee, but that can get hard to see, so I do the legs.  After that, you go around the circle, until everyone has given and received a compliment.         

Tips & Tricks

Before I introduce the compliment circle to my class, we talk a lot about what a compliment is. I teach them that it is something nice you say about someone and that it's really important to be sincere.  And yes, we have to talk about what it means to be sincere or genuine.  We also talk about the rules from the beginning.
Click on the image to get it for FREE!
The first time we do a compliment circle, we start by complimenting each other's clothes, yes it's a little superficial, but students begin to learn what a compliment is.   We use the sentence starter "I like your..."  Students then fill in the sentence.  "I like your blue shoes."  "I like your pretty purple dress."

Once students understand that a compliment is telling someone something nice about them, we move away from compliments about their clothes and move onto compliments about things they are good at.  This is usually the second or third circle we do, depending on how long it takes them to get the first compliments down.  This time we use the sentence starter, "You are good at..."  Students say things like, "You are good at reading."  "You are good at soccer."

The final step, by our fourth or fifth circle, I let the students come up with compliments on their own and that's how we continue for the rest of the year.  I do have the rule that is cannot be about their clothes anymore.  Those compliments are too easy.  I want students to really think about their classmates and come up with something they know they do well, something they saw them do that was kind, or some time when they noticed they were working really hard.  Throughout the week, I give reminders that they should be looking for good things their friends are doing so they have some ideas for compliments when we do our next compliment circle.

I use this mini-poster to help my students come up with compliment starters. 
Click on the image to get it for Free!
You will have the students who seem to give the same compliment as someone before them, give a compliment to the same friend every time, or just can't come up with something nice to say.  To help these situations, if they come up, I will compliment students who choose new friends, give a truly sincere compliment, or make the rule that it has to be someone that isn't their best friend.  I'm sure you can come up with other ideas on how to alleviate these situations when they come up, because you know they will.

We talk a lot about finding nice things to say and that it's always possible to find something, you just have to think hard enough.  I use this quote all the time.
So that's it.  Pretty easy, right?  As we continue to do compliment circles, I have noticed a genuine change in my students.  They start noticing the good things their classmates do and will often times give compliments not just in our circle.  They will give compliments to their classmates as they notice them doing something nice, working hard or just following directions.  It's a truly magical shift that I see in my classroom and I hope you can see that too.

Let me know if you have done this or something like it.  I'm always looking for ways to encourage my students to be kind, so please share them in the comments.

If you're looking for other activities to teach your students how to be kind and respectful check out this resource!
Click on the image to be taken to this resource.

If this is something you think others will like, please pin and share!
Until next time, Stay Positive & Be Kind.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017: Make It Your Best Year Ever Challenge

Goodbye 2016, hello 2017.  A lot of people, especially on social media, are saying that 2016 was an awful year that ended with the Mariah Carey debacle at the NYE celebration.  While I was not awake to witness the awkwardness, I have to say that November 2016, was definitely one of my best months ever!  The CUBS finally won the World Series and my second son was born!  But, if you're someone who feels it wasn't great, read on to find out how to make 2017 a great year!
While I shared why I think 2016 was pretty great (you can read about the newest addition to my family HERE)...

I am ready to make 2017 even better.   

I know a lot of people are not excited about this year and think that it has the potential to be even worse than 2017.  Well, let me tell you, YOU are in charge and YOU can make it the best year ever.  

Since reading Carol Dweck's book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (click to be taken to Amazon), several years ago, I've been working on having a positive mindset both for my students and for myself.  I am typically a pretty positive person, so this hasn't been too hard, but I have to say, with all of the negativity around lately, it's been a lot harder.  

So as I began to think of my New Year's resolution this year, I started thinking about mindset.  I typically make the resolutions like drink more water, eat healthy, exercise more, you know the kind, but this year I knew wanted something different.  My next thought was to make the resolution to have a baby that sleeps through the night, but with that not being something that would make myself a better person (although it could because I would be well-rested 😉), I wanted something BETTER.  Something that could help myself and others, provide happiness to myself and others and was just a better way of thinking. 
So that's when I came up with this:
This quote has always been a favorite of mine so when I was coming up with a resolution, I thought a lot about it.
Now that I have come up with my New Year's Resolution for 2017, I thought about what it means and how am I going to meet that resolution.  This is not just a goal I'm trying to get to, this is a way of thinking for the entire year.  

I started by thinking of all of the things I know will happen to make this a great year.  

Here's my list:
  • I get to watch my newborn grow into a toddler, see his personality and listen to baby laughs (one of the best things ever!). 
  • I will continue to be loved on by my 4-year-old who just loves snuggling and giving me hugs and kisses. 
  • I get to spend every day with a husband I love more than anything and know that he loves me just as much.  
  • I have the chance to change the lives of 16 students and spend every work day with eager, curious, and loving 7-year-olds.  
  • I get to go to work doing what I love with people I really enjoy working with. 
  • I get to travel to Florida for spring break to see my mom and spend time at the beach.  What could be better than that? 
  • I get to spend summer with my family of 4 and we get to have fun and travel.  (My husband is a teacher too!)
  • I get to watch the CUBS and Hawkeyes again and hope that they can have just as good a year as last year.  
I came up with eight reasons pretty easily, so now I challenge you!  Can you come up with some reasons why this is going to a great year?
Click the picture to get your FREE download.

The second part of this challenge is that hard part.  When you are feeling down, when you see negativity, when people are unkind, think of this resolution.  And go to your BEST YEAR PRINTABLE and remind yourself why this is going to be a great year.   Then do this every day, ALL YEAR!  

If you're going to make this the best year ever, share my image below to let me know you've accepted this challenge!  Use #bestyearchallenge and tag me to let me know.  Then share ways that you're making this the best year EVER!!    

I wish you the best of luck in making this your best year EVER and cannot wait to see what you have to share.  Until then, if you think others will like this, please share and pin. 
I've joined up with some friends to share this resolution.  Make sure to check it out.

Happy New Year!  And remember Stay Positive & Be Kind. 

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Benjamin Michael

Hey there, friends!  I'm going to get a little personal with you for just a second.  I wanted to share with you why I've been kind of MIA the past month.
On November 22, we welcomed Benjamin Michael, our second son into the world.  He was born at 12:54pm, weighed 7 lbs, 12 oz and was 19.5 inches long.

We are so happy that our family is complete and Ben is a great addition.  We had a fabulous holiday as we figure out how to be a family of 4.
Big brother Owen, who just turned 4, is pumped to have a little brother to share all of his trucks with.

So as we leave 2016 behind and ring in the New Year, I hope you all had a fabulous holiday.  Here's to an even better 2017! 

Pictures provided by:

Friday, November 25, 2016

Resources That Keep On Giving

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you had a fabulous holiday celebrating with family and loved ones!  I have been extra busy with the birth of my sweet baby.  So, I'm going to keep this short and sweet!  As a thank you for your love and support my entire store is 20% for Black Friday.  And I've compiled a list of some of my favorite resources that keep on giving.

1. Thankful Mini-Book

This is one of my newest products perfect for Thanksgiving.  I love making mini-books with my students that are meaningful and engaging (see my Pumpkin Investigation Mini-Book) and this was a perfect activity for a couple of days before Thanksgiving Break.  I read books like The Thankful Book by Todd Parr, Thankful by Eileen Spinelli and Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson.  And then we fill out the book page by page.  It's a great keepsake and book students can share with their families over the holidays. 

2. Voice Level Charts

This is a product that keeps on giving because I use it ALL.THE.TIME in my classroom.  I introduce this voice level chart and the different voice levels on the first days of school.  And then I keep these charts, bookmarks, and reminders around the room and refer to them often.  The students really respond to the color coding and can use the lingo right away.  

3. Bucket Fillers Activities

Another product that keeps on giving is this Bucket Filler Activities.  This a concept I introduce at the beginning of the year and refer to throughout the year as well.  Have you ever read Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud?  It's about being respectful and how everyone carries an invisible bucket that can be filled or dumped based on how we treat others and how others treat us.  It's an incredible concept that kids really understand.  Even my 4-year-old understands the language as they use it at his daycare.  
I have an Interactive Read Aloud Product for the book or you can get BOTH of my Bucket Filler products in the bundle.  Click on the images to be taken to these products.  

4. Phonics Activities Growing Bundle

The last resource that keeps on giving will actually continue to give to you for months and years to come.  The Phonics Activities Growing Bundle  is a growing product that I will continue to add to. The earlier you buy, the more you save.  As I add sets to this bundle, the price will increase. It will always be at least 20% off the total value of the packs if bought individually. When I create a new product, you will be notified that a new set has been added and you can re-download to include the new pack. Click on the red Newly Revised Re-Download link to get the added products.   

It currently includes 13 products and you save a TON.  I have plans and products in the works to add the rest of the long vowels and some others I've been working on.  
So there you go, several of my favorite resources sold in my store that keep on giving.  And don't forget, my entire store is 20% off for Black Friday!  Click on my image below to be taken to my store to see the rest of my products.  
Don't forget to pin and share. 

I hope you can enjoy the rest of your weekend by shopping from our couch, or fighting the Black Friday crowds if that's more your style.  I will be spending time with family and snuggling my sweet newborn.  

Until next time, happy shopping.

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Primary Punchbowl: Using Sticky Notes for Interactive Read Alouds

Have you heard of the Primary Punchbowl?  Well, it is a collaborative blog by primary teachers that I am a part of.  It's a great group of ladies who have a wealth of knowledge and lots of resources and expertise to share.   

I was asked to join them this summer and couldn't be more excited that my first blog post was published earlier this month.  I did a post on using sticky notes for interactive read alouds.  

If you follow my TpT Store, FB or this blog, you know how I feel about sticky notes and interactive read alouds, two of my favorite things.  I'd love for you to go check out my post and comment or share your thoughts.

You can read it by clicking {here} or by clicking on the image below.  I hope you enjoy!  There is also a FREEBIE for you too.  Check it out! 

Thanks for your support and for checking out the Primary Punchbowl.