Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Favorite Things

Hi, Everyone!

I'm trying very hard to keep my New Year's Resolution and blog more often.  Now that I'm back at work, it's hard to find the time.  We're working on our mid-year assessments right now and of course, all of the other mid-year stuff:  Personalized Education Plans, parent conferences, intervention meetings, and my Professional Development Plan (due on Friday...sigh...).

I just came across this fun Linky Party hosted by Teaching Trio, so I decided to share a few of my favorite things about teaching reading. As many of you know, I teach second grade this year and most of my career I've taught first or second.  I taught Reading Recovery for one year, as well. So teaching kids to read is kinda my thing.

1)  I love reading aloud.  Today, I began reading Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. This is one of my favorite chapter book read-alouds.  It's such a heartwarming story with so many great conversation starters. While I was reading it, my normally wiggly, talkative second graders were totally engaged.  I asked them what they thought about the beginning and then, half-jokingly said, "I'm sorry, but there are no pictures in this one."  Several voices hastened to reassure me that it was okay - they could make pictures in their minds.  How's that for a visualization lesson!

2)  I just love to listen to the kids who love to read aloud.  You know which ones I mean.  The dramatic ones, the ones who read like they have an audience even when they are reading to themselves.  When I teach fluency, they take every tip to heart.  I can usually hear them giving it a try during reading time. The one drawback: I'm always having to remind them to whisper-read!

3)  One of the great things about teaching in the primary grades is the amount of progress these kids make in a very short amount of time.  When I think about my poor babies who had limited concepts of print, letter identification, or sight word knowledge at the beginning of first grade, but left me with the ability to read at a level 16, 18, 20...Wow!  This year, I am so pleased with my kids' fluency scores.  All but three made the benchmark and only one was well below expected growth. And those three have all made progress since the beginning of the year. Watching these kids become readers is one of the joys that keeps me in this profession.  I love knowing that I had a part in their progress.

So, there you have it: my favorite things about teaching reading.  What are yours?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Multiple Seller Giveaway

Hi, again!

I just wanted to let you know about a giveaway I'm participating in.  Christina at Hanging Around in Primary is hosting it. She just reached 300 followers on her TpT page!  Yay, Christina!

I donated one of my products, A Kind and Caring Classroom for the K-2 prize package.
Here's a peek at the other prizes:

This is what's included in the 3-5 prize:

You can enter to win either or both prize packs.

Here's the K-2 entry:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter here for 3-5:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The rafflecopter will be open from Sunday, January 4th until Sunday, January 11th.  Christina will contact the winners within 48 hours.

Good Luck!

Friday, January 2, 2015

100 Acts of Kindness Challenge

Last year, I had a very challenging first grade class.  Many of them had behavior difficulties and on the whole, we had difficulty bonding as a class.  Classroom management was a challenge and throughout the year, I had to dip into my bag of tricks multiple times. One of my more successful activities involved my Hearts Full of Kindness.

I introduced the activity by discussing Acts of Kindness. We made an anchor chart on which we listed ways we had shown or others had shown kindness.  The students came up with several good ideas including:

  • inviting someone to play at recess
  • helping someone who had been hurt
  • sharing supplies
  • giving someone a gift
  • letting someone "cut" in line
  • helping someone to pick up their pencil box after it fell
I posted our list in our classroom and then presented a challenge to the class.  We had a little over a month until Valentine's Day.  I told them that I wanted to see if we could perform 100 Acts of Kindness by February 14th. The students were really excited about it and the project took off!

I copied several Kindness Heart cards on cardstock and cut them apart. First, I modeled how to fill out the cards. Then, I placed them in a basket on the back counter so students would have easy access.  I encouraged the students to fill out the cards during morning work time or after finishing an assignment.  

Here's one of the cards we collected in the first week. It says,
"Jose showed kindness when he help(ed) me carr(y) my backpack."
This is what our display looked like after a few days. 
We placed the cards on our wall display in rows of 10 for easy counting - and a math connection! During calendar time, we would count the cards and then figure out how many more we needed to get to 100. We didn't quite make our goal of 100 by Valentine's Day, but I did see an increase in acts of kindness.  Students became more aware of their own behavior, as well as that of their classmates.  So, I counted that as a win. I kept the project going until Spring Break.  

This year, I am going to introduce the Acts of Kindness project by reading a poem. You may have already noticed that I'm a poetry fan! :)

We'll use the poem to revisit our Bucket-filling discussions.  We'll also make an anchor chart listing acts of kindness.  Then I'll introduce the 100 Acts of Kindness challenge.  This year, I'll also let students know that if they meet the goal, we'll have a "Kindness Celebration" on Valentine's Day.  I want to make sure we reach our goal this year! (I have a much better group this year, but I want to keep that sense of community growing for the rest of the year.) I'll keep you posted and let you know how it's going. 

If you'd like to take part in the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge, you can download my Hearts Full of Kindness packet HERE. It includes the poem, the kindness cards, 4 kindness bookmarks, and suggestions for implementation.

Let me know how it goes by posting your comments below.

Until next time,