Monday, 26 May 2014

Reading groups organisation version 2.0

I love to reorganise things, but only when they are not working perfectly (or close to). I run reading groups twice a week, and have done for the past 6 weeks. They are working well enough, but I could see room for improvement. Enter this colourful tray trolley:
I bought it from Officework yesterday, put it together while my kids were at Music, and set it up after school. I have five groups for guided reading, and I use the same groups for reading groups. What I normally do is have two groups that do guided reading, and they swap half way through the session, and two groups get to do two different activities (and they swap halfway through the session). The problems were arising with the swap. I was finding that one group was awfully slow when it came to packing up, and the other group would then get distracted and muck around. To stop this I've decided to have 10 tasks set up, and each group does their task box 1 first, then when we swap they do the box numbered 2. This way they don't have to swap with another group. My plan is that when they are used to the tub idea I will let the groups switch to their task number 2 whenever the first task is complete - so there is a bit of self-directed responsibility in reading groups.

At this stage I love the tubs (though they are a bit shallow and I've had to stack a couple of games behind the CD player on the top) and tomorrow will be the real test!

I have also been meaning to follow up about the SitSpots that I bought. Here they are:
They are working really well. Whenever I tell my students to sit on the carpet I always say "find a spot" and that reminds them that they must have their bottom on a spot. They have discovered that the spots come off the carpet (the are pretty similar to velcro) but we have tough rules in place that the kids aren't allowed to take the spots off the carpet. A couple of times, when there have been arguments and kids haven't been sitting sensibly, I have asked all students to stand up in a circle and I've allocated the spot they are to sit on. I also use the shape or colour to send the preps out to snack or lunch, ie. "Anyone sitting on a pink oval can get their snack". I tell them I'm looking for the row sitting the best, and they lift their game! One of my little darlings has even taken to jumping from one spot to the other and saying the shape name or the colour - he actually needs to work on these skills a bit so it is perfect for him! Basically, I love them and highly recommend them!

I had an awesome day with my kids today! We started the day with a song, which they always love, and then it was just writing, reading and maths (then they had music and Indonesian while I did some laminating etc). We have started work on persuasive writing, learned the letter Kk and started work on ordinal number. I'm really glad it was a nice day because I'm smack bang in the middle of report writing, and it's a bit stressful!! In fact, that's what I should really be doing now, but everything is more fun that report writing (especially blogging, and even doing the dishes!).

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Keep calm and go interactive

I'm very jealous of all the Go-Noodlers out there at the moment. My interactive whiteboard went out of action at the end of last term (7 weeks ago) and we haven't been able to use it. On Thursday it was unplugged, disconnected and taken away for servicing. I should get it back in about a week. I can't wait!! There are so many things that I normally do with my SMARTBoard that I've been struggling to do. I always model handwriting on IWB because it is big and I have a screenshot of the lines we use. I love using the IWB for brain breaks (like GoNoodle or Koo Koo Kangaroo YouTube clips). I do my modelled writing on the IWB so that I can save it and refer to it the next day. We do whole group Mathletics on the IWB. I have digital flashcards for high frequency words. And the list goes on. Basically, I can't wait until it's back.

I've got a question.
What are your favourite things to do with an Interactive Whiteboard??

Five for Friday (whoops, it's Saturday...)

What a busy week!! It was lots of fun, too. There has been a few changes in my class, so to bring everything back together and put a bit of excitement into the weeks of testing leading up to reports we had Pirate Week! It was awesome. Time for ...
I made it Pirate Week this week. It was inspired by our Science curriculum, actually. One part of Science this term for Foundation at my school is to look at maps, so what better way than to make some pirate maps. That was last week. I continued the idea into this week by having a week full of pirates. My kids had heaps of fun, and one of my EAL (English as Another Language) kids loved walking around the school at playtime and going up to students to say "Aaaargh!!" It was very cute.

On Monday morning we started Pirate Week with some writing. I made up a sheet for my students to use, and they had to finish the sentence "If I was a pirate..." There were some excellent answers! I have quite a few students who are struggling with writing so for them I use a light coloured texta to write what they dictate to me and they trace my writing. They still have to be able to read back what I have written for them.
We also wrote about treasure, and we did a pirate listening task. The listening task was really interesting. Some instructions had two steps, and it was surprising to see how many students didn't cope with that. For example, it might say "find the pirate with the map, colour his shoes brown" and some students would colour both the map and the shoes brown.

I came across this awesome game from the lovely Lauren at Love, Laughter and Learning in Prep. My students worked in groups of three. Each student had a 10s frame and a 'treasure chest' (we used Pirate themed cups). They shared a bowl of 'jewels' for the counters and had a 'pot of gold' full of gold nuggets to win. Students roll the dice, and add that many jewels to their tens frame. Students take turns, and add to their own frame. When the 10s frame is full, they exchange their jewels for a piece of gold. I absolutely love this game!! My students were totally engaged with it. But, more than that, the amount of maths happening was incredible. It works on the sense of ten-ness (as my maths coach would say), they had to say what number they rolled and how many jewels they still needed to fill their frame (tens facts), I also asked students what number they would want to roll for their next go so that their frame was full (if they had two spots left they would like to roll a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, but couldn't roll a 7 because that is not on the dice, and wouldn't like a 1 because it wouldn't fill the frame). Even though Pirate Week has finished, we're going to play this game again next week - I LOVE IT!!

We did a bit of craft, too. On Tuesday my students made hats and hooks. The hat was just the pirate hat shape glued on to a strip of paper (a bit like a crown). The hook was made with a paper cup and a straw that was rolled up in aluminium foil. They loved playing Pirates. On Thursday they also made maps and telescopes. I wasn't in class on Thursday so I don't have a photo of them.

I bought some SitSpots! I installed them Thursday night, and my students weren't at school on Friday, so I'm excited for Monday when they get to see them for the first time! I chose to use different shapes and colours for the rows. I plan on playing some instruction games with them (eg. step on the yellow circle, then the green square; or what colour is the square, and what shape is the pink shape). I love the bright colours!!

We had a very busy (slightly stressful, for me) week. I am my school's reports coordinator, and reports are due in two weeks so I had a busy time setting the reports up for our teachers. It is the first time I've had this role, so there was lots of new learning. I'm excited for next week because it is Education Week and we have our school Open Day. We have special events on everyday this week, so there'll be lots of photos to post!!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Wordless Wednesday

I've missed Wordless Wednesday for the past couple of weeks. But I have a question for this week:

How do you teach sight words??

For a bit of background: it's reporting time and I'm realising that my group of kids aren't having as much success with my current strategies for teaching sight words.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Five for Fri... Sunday... whoops!

Week 3 of term 2 was a tough week. Yep, that was last week. My new student has some difficult behaviours so it threw my class through the ringer. I was emotional, too, because it had taken me ten weeks to get my class settled (I have an eclectic mix of 22 students, and only 6 girls!). But we made some inroads towards the end of the week, and I'm looking forward to a fresh start to week 4! We will be on day 55 of school for the year, so we're moving along.

I'm the Reports Coordinator at my school. This is my first year doing it, so I went to training on Wednesday and it totally freaked me out - there is heaps to do! I just have to get a handle on things, and I will.

So on to more fun things:

I run a Craft Club for prep-2s twice a term. This time we made 3D collages. It was tricky, but they did a great job! They got to experiment with cellophane, aluminium foil, bubble wrap, tissue paper, foam shapes and ribbon. Oh, and lots of sticky tape!
On Monday we focused on counting backwards in Maths. My students made rockets, and added the countdown numbers. They were just adorable!! I basically just modelled how to make one, then handed the paper over to them and let them create it the way they wanted to do it. One of my little guys put his hand up and said "Miss Luck, I've already got a picture in my head of my rocket!". Love it!!
For Mother's Day my students made flower pictures, gift vouchers and cards. The flower pictures were gorgeous. They had to cut out three different sized "circles" in different colours, and layer them onto the paper. Then they got to add a sparkly diamante sticker to the middle of each flower. I love how bright they are. I got the idea somewhere on Pinterest, but I can't find it at the moment. (not all of the them chose to use black paper, but I happened to mention that bright colours look great on black paper, so a few went that way)

I got a new Wantable box this month. I don't love it, and I think I'm going to cancel the subscription. But it was fun to try!!

I've kept this plant alive since before Christmas!! It was a gift from one of my students last year. But I have no idea what it's called. Anyone??? So far (thanks to Instagram) I've found out that it is a succulent. I don't know anymore than that.

I've got a four day week with kids, then a Curriculum Day on Friday. I have decided to theme the whole week around Pirates!! I can't wait. I will take lots of photos and post them at the end of the week.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Five for Friday

It's time for.....
This week I took my preppies for their first excursion!! We walked to our nearest kindergarten to visit the 4 year old group. In their room they had live chicken eggs. Three chicks had hatched the night before we visited, and about 30 minutes after we left another chick hatched. My littlies were absolutely fascinated watching the babies chicks. And they also loved playing with the kinder stuff! I took heaps of photos, but I left my camera at school - whoops!

I've started doing a teacher photo a day challenge on Instagram. It's at #padteacherchallenge. I love sharing photos of my classroom, and I love seeing photos of other teacher's classrooms!

Our Science topic this term, as I mentioned last week, is What's it made of? This week we walked around the school and discussed some of the items in the school ground. We talked about what they are used for, what they feel like, and what we think they are made of. Next week we are going to map out where we walked and what we saw. In the lead up to the work on maps we did a fun lesson about treasure maps. I read a pirate book which had a treasure map in it (it's called Captain Teachum's Buried Treasure), then my students made their own treasure map. It had to have an island and some water, an 'x marks the spot' for their treasure, a pirate ship to show where to start looking, a path to follow, and an arrow to show which way up the map goes. Based on this we also touched very briefly on north, south, east, west and compasses. They LOVED it!!

I'm trying to be healthier and lose a bit of weight at the moment. I bought myself a Fitbit One and I've just started using MyFitnessPal. Hopefully tracking a few things will help keep me on track!

I've been sick this week (which is why I haven't blogged). This is my third year as a teacher, and over the first two years I had about 20 ear infections! I know... I was building up my strong teacher immune system. This is my first cold for the year, so fingers crossed I'm developing my ability to withstand 5 year old's cold/flu germs!

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Friday, 2 May 2014

Currently May

I'm linking to Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for her monthly Currently linkup. Currently for May...

To explain.
Listening: It is about 9 degrees celsius here tonight, so I have the heater on. And my electric blanket is warming up my bed for me. Winter is coming!
Loving: I have the end of a cold, and it was a huge week at work this week, so a sleep in tomorrow sounds amazing.
Thinking: I am the reports coordinator for my school, and reports are due in about 6 weeks, so I have report writing on the brain.
Wanting: This year my school is starting Student Led Conferences. I have never done one before. I've been reading all of the blog posts I can find on the topic, but other tips would be amazing!
Needing: I have had a present sitting on my desk for about two months waiting to be posted to a very good friend of mine who lives in England. I've known her for 14 years!!
Surprise: I just connected up with Lauren Kuhn of Love, Laughter, and Learning in Prep  on Instagram after reading her blog for ages. I love her Stirring Up Fun! product on TpT. It's free and it has recipes for different sensory concoctions - awesome!

Thanks, Farley, for an awesome linkup!!