Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Interactive Writing

In writing, math, and for our morning message I have put a twist on writing. Students have shown in reading group what great writers they are becoming by writing words we know and also sentences in their journal. I have put a twist on group writing. It is NO longer teacher directed!!! It's been great to have students help me with our writing ideas. It does take a lot longer for the whole group lesson model to get completed, but it's definitely MORE engaging for our students.

What am I doing differently? Simple! I am no longer writing the entire idea students have for our model sentence. Students are helping me! See the picture below to see an example. Students are helping me with beginning letters of words because of the sounds they know, they are writing sight words we have worked on, and they are writing the punctuation needed to end a sentence. What am I doing? I am helping fill in words that students aren't sure of how to spell. For example I fill in the e on likes because it's not a sound we hear. I also wrote the word named because it isn't a word that we know yet. I also ask questions as students write- for instance when we wrote likes in the picture, the first time we had a capital L. I asked the student if likes is the first word. The student responded, "No." I continued the discussion by asking if it's not the first word do we need it to be capitalized? He new it should be lowercase l. It was great to see him thinking and change his writing! We do make sure that words are spelled correctly when we do interactive writing, but as you can see, some letters are written backwards- I'm okay with that because that is developmental and will come the more we write.

Deciding to do more writing was a difficult decision to make because I knew it would take longer and wasn't sure students would sit for the amount of time it takes... Boy was I wrong! They LOVE it and can't wait to come up and have a turn helping me write a sentence!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kindergarten Around the World

I'm so thankful that our media specialist told me about this project! Our class has a partner class with a Kindergarten in Canada. We have had a lot of fun learning about Canada. Students can tell you what the flag looks like in Canada, that they don't have a president but instead have a Prime Minister. They can also tell you that Canadians like to play hockey and their national song is O Canada.

Today we sent our first Tweet to the class from Canada to answer. We told them that we say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning- we asked if they say any kind of a pledge. We also made a video to send them of us doing the pledge- Unfortunately it didn't upload to my youtube account.... so my goal is to get that figured out by Friday- if it doesn't upload, I may just attach the file to an email to the classroom teacher.

Students are sad to see our friend Cole Cougar leave the classroom, but we are sending it to Canada. they are sending us a wolf. I'm excited for students to take turns taking the wolf home and writing a sentence about what they did with the wolf. We will use this as a journal for the project and I'm not sure if we will add this to a blog or how to share with the other class. I'm still trying to work some parts of my ideas out-

We are also graphing weather in Toronto, Canada and comparing it to our weather- we were a little surprised that it was  warmer in Canada than it was in Iowa the other day.

I know I'm going to need a lot of support with this project, but I'm very excited to get it rolling!


Well, I am very proud to say that I "recycled" something my daughter did in school about Thanksgiving. We made bracelets to help us tell the story of the first Thanksgiving. I first read the book The Very First Thanksgiving Day. The story was great because it would tell a little about the first Thanksgiving and then it would repeat during the story. We took that information and made story bracelets. We took a pipe cleaner and added 8 beads to the pipe cleaner. They went in this order and for these reasons:

White: represents the pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower
Blue: represents the ocean the pilgrims sailed on.
Black: The storms endured during the trip
Green: Celebrating a new land
Brown: eating Turkey
Corn: Indians helped them to grow corn
Red: Red berries they found together to eat
Orange: Pumpkin Pie

The best part of this project- is students could repeat the story and tell their parents the story of the first Thanksgiving.- This is definitely something I want to remember to do  next year!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


We are really picking up on words when we are doing our independent reading. This week we starting writing all the words we recognize as we read on post it notes. Students stick them on the door when they are done to showcase what we found. Later in the day we read our words to the class. They are very proud of showing other students what they found. Some students are writing letters they recognize because they are not quite ready for words- But I'm glad they are showing what they know and can transfer reading/writing!! :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


The first trimester of our school year is wrapping up. I can't believe we have been in school for 12 weeks already. Where did the time go? Someone told me that there are 26 school days left until Christmas break- WOW! I can't believe it.

I'm going to be making changes to my blog. Since I feel that I have some experience and my toes are at least wet with the new change and new grade level, I'm going to start dedicating this blog to what is happening in room 111. I'm going to start showing projects that students are working on and making it more usable this way. I'm hoping by doing this that people will respond to some of my ideas and give me some feedback/suggestions--- that of course would mean I need more followers- so I'm going to work on promoting my blog to get more followers in turn getting more support and more ideas to help me on my journy.

One change that is being made in the classroom is I'm taking out the behavior chart that I originally started. I started the year thinking I had to have one in order to keep some structure in my classroom. Well, with trial and error of the chart, I'm going to take it away- I'm not sure how to completely remove it- but let's face it when a child isn't sitting on his/her bottom- is he/she really misbehaving? Or is that just something that annoys me? Should a child really be moved to yellow for this? How about the boy in my room that doesn't like lining up. Should he be moved? Or how does he handle being given a choice- "You can either line up in line or you can walk with me." Not all students enjoy doing the same thing. They all learn different and like different things. They also all respond differently in many situations. SO- instead of a one size fits all model it's going to be a model for 23 individuals and what they need to be successful.

So please feel free to give me any feedback on your thoughts about this.... more to come with more of what is really happening in the classroom.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Little Moments:

You know at the end of the day I have to stop to think what really matters? It is the little moments that I have decided matter the most.  We must all celebrate success and especially the little ones! As I'm working with students in small group- there are a lot of things we need to celebrate! When I think of one of my reading groups- they have made such improvements and progress in letter recognition! This is definitely a success! They have worked very hard in group and are so proud to come to the table and tell me letters they have identified. Another reading group is so excited to come and show me words they recognize in their independent reading. These are the little moments that we are celebrating in room 111.
In math we are working on patterns and how we can create and explain them. Today students were asked to create their own pattern. The patterns that students made were amazing! Some did AB, ABB patterns and some were able to create abbc patterns. We have practiced AB patterns with actions and to see the extensions of their patterns was amazing to see.
Little moments = BIG success and a positive feeling in our room. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Anxious and excited

Well- room 111 is going on a new adventure.... we are taking quite a trip and the students don't even know it yet. I will be taking 24 Kindergarten students on an adventure of a lifetime- we are going to Canada! Markham, Canada to be exact!Markham is a suburb of Ontario.
How can that be you may be wondering- well we have been chosen to participate in a Kindergarten Around the World adventure where we are partnered up with a class in Canada. We will learn about their school day, what things their students love and much, much, more.
 Now- as with all trips, I need to get an itinerary lined up and do some research on what would be the best possible way for students to get the most out of this experience. I'm very excited to get this project up and running along with the teacher in Canada.
I hope this will be as great of an adventure as I think it will be. It will take a lot of communication, time (yes- more time---- something I don't know where to draw the line- refer back to last week's blog), patience, and understanding, but I think everyone in room 111 will learn and grow from this experience! I can't wait to see how this works!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

$ and time when to draw the line:

Money- when to draw the line? In my efforts to learn as much as I can in my first year as a Kindergarten teacher- I'm trying to do a lot of reading both blogs and published pieces. I came across a great tool that I would love to have and use for reading and writing- but it's just too expensive for me to buy on my own. I would love to buy it, but I know as soon as my husband found out, he would kill me. I'm already spending my own money for books for large group lessons, more books for our classroom library, storage and organizing tubs/baskets, and more- I have no problem buying items for my classroom, but he just doesn't understand- why is school so expensive? Our two girls bring home notes asking if parents would like to donate items for the fall party- well, one child's classroom is filled with treats, and yes, we are bringing something. The other child's list had 2 items filled- and yes we are bringing to that party- maybe now more than the juice we signed up for. Add items for my class' fall party and I bet I'm spending close to $40 if not more- Why am I always the parent that donates to our girls' classroom? Because I know what it's like to not have things for the classroom- I guess that comes with the territory of being a parent and teacher.
Time- I wish I  had more in the day for both school and family. I'm getting ready to teach a round of after school which means I'm giving 2 hours of my family time up, but it's to spend with students that could benefit from a small intensive group to help them learn both letters and numbers. I don't mind teaching the after school program- I'm at work until 4:15-4:30 anyway each day. Today I talked to a parent that I think would be a great addition to our school PTO. I told her I'd let her know when the next meeting is, and if she wants I would go to the meeting with her. That means I would be giving up an hour of my family time, but I'm also on the school PTO where my children attend-

So- as parents and teachers--- where do we draw the line? I want what's best for my own children and also my students- but at what cost?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I have never liked change- especially UNEXPECTED change! So knowing I'm changing to a new grade level, I've had time to prepare myself for that. Knowing I am going to have to change expectations for students- is something I'm working on. I still hold high expectations for them, but at a different level.... 

So the fact that my reading group schedule has changed 3 times in the last 2 1/2 weeks, is something I'm still trying to adjust to and not stress out about. Luckily for me my students are accepting the change, settling into their new routine, and being rockstars about having different people in their group or going to different workshops in a different order. They are helping me work through the unknown!! 

Another change- the afternoon schedule due to recess being moved! This has been a blessing in disguise because I am truly being able to give time to shared reading and students are not being rushed through a lesson. 
Changing my organization and my thought process of how the room should look has changed about a million times so far in only 36 days of school. I will keep changing my reading tubs until I get a system down that I love- maybe I need one giant tub for all 6 groups instead of 6 tubs- one for each group? I don't know what is best! But I keep trying new ways. I'm always up for suggestions! 

Even though change can be tough- I've realized it's tougher on adults than kids. Because of this and because of the students wonderful response to change- I'm not so scared of change in my classroom. Now the one question that everyone asks: Do you like the change to Kindergarten? Are you glad you changed positions this year- well, there's only one way to answer that and that is with a big fat ABSOLUTELY!!! I love my "change!" This is the first time in probably 5 years that I'm not constantly stressed out with what is being asked of me- the main thing stressing me out now is ME! What a great change it's been!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


What I get vs. what I want----
Who knew feedback was so important? I really don't think I've thought about it as deeply or as often as I have in the last 32 days of school.

 What I'm getting......
Oh it's your first year everything will be fine---
oh it's your first year you aren't suppose to know what students should be able to do....
Well, you're class is more controlled than the teacher that was in your room last year..... let's call her Sally
You're doing a better job at this time of the year than Sally did last year.
Well, Sally did it this way last year, and you're not doing it that way- so it's ok.
It's your first year- you have every excuse to not know what you're doing-

What I'm getting is NOT going to set my students up for success this year! I mean who is really going to look back when my students are in 5th grade and say "Oh so and so is behind because he/she had Mrs. Earle in Kindergarten and that was her first year." No this will NOT be an excuse for students not getting the best and most out of every day!! I want better for them!!

What I want.....

Well- it's the beginning of October and I do feel like I'm settling in in my new life as a Kindergarten teacher BUT I do know I have a lot yet to learn and even more to improve in my classroom. I have a feeling I'm the only teacher in the building that has asked for observations to take place sooner rather than later. I guess what I'm wanting is professional feedback. The reason I'm so eager for this feedback is because I want to know sooner the areas I need to fix. I don't want to wait until after the first trimester and feel that I have been a disservice to my students. They are so eager to learn and deserve their teacher to be doing the best for all of them. I'm hoping by having observations happening in our room I can really reflect on what I'm doing. I know that I will get great feedback and the feedback won't be just a pat on the back because let's face it- I'm not after that! I'm after what can I fix/change to be a better teacher for the 24 learners in my classroom. It will be great to have feedback to see what positives are going on in the room that I maybe don't realize, but more importantly get my thinking wrapped around what I can do to be better. In only 32 of teaching, I've done a lot of reflecting and have made some changes in styles of teaching. I know it's not great to keep changing, but I do feel that with each change (whether it's a change in reading groups, or an extra activity to have a volunteer do,) the changes have been successful.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


WOW! I'm usually somewhat organized- ok I know if you come to my room you will see piles of stuff- BUT I do know what's in each pile- that's organized right? 
Well, being gone 2 days last week left for a lot of housekeeping to be done in the room. I'm so glad I was able to go in for 2 hours today- yes, on Sunday I was at work for 2 hours. But while I was there, I got tables cleaned, piles sorted out, books switched to fall books in the display, papers filed away,  small group reading books picked for the week, material sorted for M-F in the baskets to be more organized, and I'm sure I got more done- BUT today's 2 hours of being at school working add to that over an hour to complete lesson plans.
If not on Sundays, when is there time to do this stuff during the work week? I'm already giving up my lunch to transfer reading materials over to math for the afternoon. During planning time- I'm finally getting around to checking emails- talking with teammates, and putting math materials away and getting out writing and word work material we will need.
I guess I will live with my piles until the days I'm able to spend a couple extra hours to just plain CATCH UP!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This week's pros and cons....

It's only Tuesday! But what a week of emotions.... 

Pros- My little guy that wants and seeks attention has had a better start to the week. No- he hasn't received may smiley faces on this behavior chart BUT when given a choice to stay with the group or go to his seat.... he is choosing stay with the group and bless his heart he is trying to stay quiet- it's just so hard! 

Con: I'm probably being a little more strict with him and not always using a pleasant voice. I know he tries hard. I know he wants to learn- but after asking him to do something and have him talk back to me- it takes a firm unpleasant voice for him to realize I mean business. Next week's goal- work on only being asked twice! Once for directions and once as a reminder after the first time. Why next week? because I'm out of the building Thursday and Friday. 

Pros: My student that doesn't want to be at school because he wants to spend time with Dad- didn't cry when Dad brought him to school Monday.

Con: He broke his arm at recess and had to have surgery Monday. :(

Pro: I have some students that are already reading or are reading to start. And their teacher is ready to challenge them to be life long readers! 

Con: This means I am going to spend my weekend trying to redo our reading workshop schedule- which the students have adjusted to and know the routine. How about a little shake up? I'm hoping for the best!! 

Pro: Reading workshop is going smoothly- even with adding pillows, the iPad and the choice to read around the room..... 
Con: Did I go through routines too fast to get students into groups and starting to work on reading and letter identification? I SURE HOPE NOT! This could be more of a con later down the road..... if I rushed! 

Looking at the emotional roller coaster this week and seeing the pros and thinking of the cons I'm hoping that the pros out weigh the cons! But with the motto of our secretary, "We Got this!" and I truly believe with the support I have throughout the building students in room 111 will come out making gains this year! 


Saturday, September 15, 2012


Well- I'm sitting at home in the garage- BEAUTIFUL weather while the baby is napping and working on things for next week. I'm feeling really positive about next week as I write up plans and my to-do list gets longer and longer with what I need to remember to do when I get to work- print sub plans, print plans for my para, create folders for students- the list goes on and on- BUT after feeling this week like a not so great ok let's be honest- a TERRIBLE teacher... I'm feeling a little more organized and my mind seems to be a little more clear as I once again get more things rolling in Kindergarten. It's September 15th and I'm still trying to get certain things started in the classroom- Did I start station rotations too early? I don't think so- but I also think we need a little review of taking care of materials- my students are so great when times are structured- I'm working this weekend on making sure even more of the day is structured- maybe smaller math groups? Tough with our curriculum I know- but COULD be best for my students...... Another step in learning? DEFINITELY! I am one that wants STAR notes for my teaching- as I question a lot of what I'm doing- is it good for students? Am I on the right track for Kindergarteners? BUT do I really need the physical STAR note- NOPE Just one in my brain thinking that I'm on the right track and at this point I feel like next week could be STAR note worthy--- but ask me again Monday after the day is over......

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Well- I'm quite a bit frustrated. I have a student that bless his heart tries his hardest and has no idea why he is at school. I have asked for help with how to work best with this student. The answer- is he needs meds. I'm VERY frustrated with that answer- why won't somebody give my an idea/ideas how to work with this little child that REALLY wants to learn- but sitting for 5 minutes quietly isn't an expectation he's ready to follow- so while the others are sitting and he's talking.... the best answer is he needs meds? Hmm I guess I was looking for anything I could do to set him up for success. From now on my lips are zipped on his behavior and I won't be asking for help- it's clear I'm not getting it and I'm not going to...... I apologize if this blog seems like I'm upset and rude- it's not intended that way- but I want more for students than a pill..... I know as my teacher he is going to be my motivation to be the best I can be because if I'm helping him to learn and succeed I know others will also be succeeding!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kindergartner's CAN

Why is it that people think it's nothing but chaos in a Kindergarten classroom? One thing has really bothered me since taking on the new Kindergarten position- and that is hearing around the building- "Oh they are Kindergarteners, what do you expect?" OR "They are Kindergarteners they can't do that." Well guess what- Kindergarteners CAN and DO! I have faith in my class and they can walk in a line quietly, they CAN go to reading workshop station rotations. They CAN! They CAN! They CAN! 

Don't say oh they are Just Kindergarteners.... Do we say Oh, the fourth graders are loud- but that's because they are JUST 4th graders? No- we have high expectations for them and guess what- We should for our Kindergarteners too!!! 

When asked how do I like the move? Accept and LISTEN when I say I LOVE teaching Kindergarten- there's no hidden sarcasm in that- I do LOVE it! I'm learning in this journey and have LOVED every step! 

Today I was talking to students about rotating to their next station. A boy came up to me and said, "What does it mean to rotate?" What a great feeling BECAUSE he picked up on a high vocabulary word and wanted to know more! Also- by using higher vocabulary there was another teachable moment in my room.... Now I'm going to "borrow or steal" the idea from our Media teacher and have a vocabulary word of the week.... Next week's word: ROTATE! He asked me this question in private so he got the answer at the end of reading class today. See Kindergartners CAN do more!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

So much to think about

This year is definitely going to be full of learning adventures for me as a first year Kindergarten teacher.... I really hope the worrying/stress levels that I've been feeling will go away. I don't sleep at night because I lay in bed thinking of things I didn't get done before I left work OR things I want to make sure I do with students- especially really reward those students that are ready to learn. Did I talk to every child each day? Do they all know how important they are to our class? Not only do I worry about these kinds of things- but what will I do in reading groups? Do I have the right students grouped together? What if I don't challenge them to do better? Am I moving to fast with routines??

THEN I see a note from a parent about what a great job I've been doing because her daughter has already learned so much in Kindergarten- that was the BEST thing to hear because as you can see I was questioning if I'm in the right place and doing the right things..... I know it's early in the year but I want to be the best teacher that I can be- and unfortunately since this is my first year I won't feel like I'm a very good teacher because I truly feel I have no idea what I'm doing.....

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Time management

Well- I'm exhausted! Questions I'm asking myself- Am I unorganized? Am I unprepared? Am I unlucky?? 
It seems that I have NO time during the day. Once students come in it's go time from 8:40-3:35-- Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining- BUT where is my lunch going? What about my planning? I spend lunch putting all the morning materials away and setting up the classroom and prepping materials for the afternoon- by the time that's gone I MAYBE get to eat the yogurt I packed. Planning time? What planning time! I spend that putting away the math materials and getting writing and our word/letter of the week items out.  THEN the unlucky part? EVERY time I've been trying to use my Promethean Board or Actiview this week- it doesn't want to work- now I'm learned very quickly getting Kindergarteners ready once is tough, but then down time to restart the Actiview try to open a flipchart in a different way THEN get the kindergarteners ready is a CHALLENGE!  So am I unorganized, unprepared, or unlucky? You be the judge. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Preparing for the week

Well, I've dug into and have been taking notes for ideas about the curriculum for the week. I have some ideas that I'm excited to try and hope they will be positive experiences for students. I've spent some time today looking at blogs an finalizing my lesson ideas for the week. I'm ready for students to begin learning about our classroom library and how important it will be to them this year! Let the week begin- I'm wondering how many students will fall asleep in the afternoon with being at school all day now.... I hope I keep them busy and engaged so not many fall asleep. diving into the curriculum tomorrow means a list of things to do so I have all materials prepared and ready when needed. Organization is going to be key this year!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Stressed? I am!

Well, we start full days of Kindergarten on Monday. I'm really stressed about it! I still haven't taught  all my morning routines for when students come into the classroom. There is a lot I hope to cover on Monday with a full day and that's not even including the reading, writing, and math curriculum I'll start. The last 7 days have been an extreme eye opener and a major learning experience for me. I have a student that last Monday I lost my patience with because he just wouldn't listen. Well, after a lot of thinking Monday night it dawned on me-he has never been to school, he isn't sure why he is here- so the poor little guy got in trouble because his teacher lost her cool! Well- 4 more days of teaching him to sit for calendar, how to stand in a line, even get a drink- and we have made huge gains! He may not even need to the behavior chart I made for him because now he is learning about his role at school.
    This first year is going to be quite the learning experience for me- but you know what- I'm ready to learn and it will help me be a better teacher!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Here we go!

After much discussion with our media specialist, I decided to bite the bullet and start a teaching blog. Thanks Lynn!! I'm learning about this as I go and I am so grateful Lynn is here with me to get me started.
As a 1st year Kindergarten teacher, I have learned so much in 5 short days. Before this I've taught the last 4 years as a special  needs teacher and before that 2 years as a 5th and 6th grade reading teacher.
I wish I would have started this blog as I was cleaning out and setting up my room. What an experience that was! My one lesson that I've learned and am continuing to learn is some of my students have never been in a school setting. How awesome is it that I'm the first one to work with them? I have loved every  minute as a Kindergarten teacher this year and can't wait to work with all 24 students this year. Thanks for following me on my journey as a 1st year Kindergarten teacher. It's going to be a learning experience for ME just as much as for the students. This blog will be used for triumphs, trials, and rewards of the school year. I am so excited to be on this journey of new beginnings!