Thursday, August 3, 2017

Kindergarten Round-Up with ESGI

Kindergarten round-up or pre-assessment day.  How does your school  do it?  Last year we tried something different.  What we were doing in the past wasn't working.  Instead of having students come a few days before the start of school for an assessment, we waited for the first day of school.
Use ESGI to assess the incoming Kindergarteners.  We have a different approach to kindergarten roun-up we do it after school has started.  We take the first 2 days.  Read more to find ou.
Here is how it worked.  First we assigned each student to a group;  yellow circles, red squares, blue triangles... Then the groups were rotated and mixed up throughout the first two days of schools. (see at the bottom for more details) I might have had the circles and squares in one session, but then the next session would be the squares and triangles and so forth.

Our goal was for all four teachers to see all of the students and for all of the students to have an opportunity to be together at some point during the rotations. During the rotations all of us taught the exact same lessons.  We had worked together during the summer to design the lesson and prep them.  Then, while we were teaching the lessons and the students were completing their tasks our support staff were assessing and evaluating our students.

All of our support staff were given an iPad to assess each student using ESGI.  We had created an assessment within ESGI to determine where our students were academically.  With ESGI the support staff could quickly tell if a student had already been assessed or not.  As teachers, we were able to observe and take notes on students behavior and social skills or anything else that we had noticed becasue we weren't focussing on the assessments.

At the end of the second day, we printed out the assessments to create our class lists.  The goal was to create balanced classes academically, and behaviorally.  The next day- day 3 we tried out the classes in the morning to see how they worked.  If there were any huge problems, we discussed at lunch, made changes.  The students then took home a letter telling their parents who their teacher would be beginning on Monday.  We start school on Wednesdays, so this is a Wednesday-Friday program for us.

Having ESGI makes this work I don't think we could do the assessment portion without ESGI.  Last year we had almost all the kids assessed the first day.

If you haven't tried ESGI now is the time.  You can get a 60 Day free trial just in time for Back-to-School.

(Rotation Explanation) Our groups always began and ended at the same classroom so parents knew where to drop off and pick up their students.  For example, I had yellow circles,  The yellow circles came into my room, after picking up their name tag from the pocket chart outside my door.  We quickly took attendance and got right to work.  On the first day we did 2 rotations with the same groups because it is the first day and it is scary.  After that, we mixed the kids.  Day two we did three rotations. On the third day we did a trial mock class of what we thought our class would look like.  If there were any problems we fixed at lunch.  Then the students took home a parent letter with who their permanent teacher would be.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Win a TpT Gift Card

Just in time for Back to School. You can win a $10 TpT gift card to help with some of those back-to-School TpT purchases.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Take Home Folders

Home to school communication is vital, especially in kindergarten.  Establishing that connection between home and school in the early years is so important. As a kindergarten teacher I feel it is my duty to hook those parent and real them in.
Studnet take home folders for school to home communication.  Build the communication lines between school and home early on .  Start in kindergarten with the take home communication homework folder
My take-home/homework folders are jam packed with everything a kindergarten parent needs to help their child be successful.  I put a lot of time an energy into these becasue I want my families to use them.  I want my students to be proud of them; and they are.

Every folder has a personalized label for the front.  Inside is a pencil pouch to hold their flash cards and then all of the resource reference pages follow.

personalized homework folder labels
kindergarten take home folder resource pageskindergarten take home folder resource pageskindergarten take home folder resource pageskindergarten take home folder resource folder

take home school communication homework folders
I use the basic 3-prong poly folders found at Target or Walmart and I buy the sheet protectors at Costco.  This year I was smart and bought a double set- Now I can prepare  at the end of the next school year and have them all ready to go before school is even over.  

You can find these in my TpT store Just click the image above or the here.

Have you signed up for my email list- Get exclusive email offers and FREEBIES just for being a subscriber.

Have a great week- I'm off for a mini vacation to my favorite beach..and to spend some time with my 100 year old grandma- yes that's right she is 100 years old and she ROCKS!!!! she lives by herself- drives and is the best lemon pie maker there is.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Back to School Freebies

Who doesn't like free?  In our family we have a saying Free is always within budget.
back to school freebies for the kindergarten classroom: start the school year off with some useful free names, calendar numbers and more.

With Target and Walmart putting out those school supplies so early, its hard not to pass up those good deals.  Let's face it those Target Dollar spots items are sometimes too cute to walk past. That's why I thought I'd share a few things today that are well within all of our budgets.  Free is always within budget- right?

Do you need name tags for the first day of school?  These name tags are easy to use. Just type your students' names, print and insert into the badge holder.
Free editable name tags for kindergarten.  Print and insert into name badge holders from Time4kindergarten.

Next up is calendar numbers.  These can be used for more than just the calendar. Last year I made an extra set and used contact paper to adhere them to my floor to create a line-up strip.   Print two sets to create a memory game.  
free chalkboard calendar numbers several styles to choose from
If you teach pre-school, Pre-K, TK or Kindergarten, this next Freebie is an absolute MUST HAVE!!!!!!  We all know our little ones have accidents.  It's even worse if they don't have a change of clothes on hand.  I now send home a ziplock bag with the note for extra clothes ready to go.  I then keep the clothes in a tall laundry basket from Target.  I bought it during back-to-school time when all the dorm room stuff came out.  It fits perfect in my hallway and it holds all the clothes. The kids, office staff and yard supervisors all know where it is, in case I'm not there.
Send home an emergency clothing kit request form to keep an extra change of clothes at school for unexpected accidents.

This next freebie. is similar to an emergency card, but I keep it in the classroom. We hand these out at Kindergarten orientation.  This gives some quick and very important information about a child that so often parents just forget to tell us.  For example, the name on their Birth certificate may be Michael Ryan Smith; however, the child has never been called Michael and doesn’t even know that Michael is his real first name.  This is something that the teacher needs to know from day one. You could be sitting there playing guess who this child is.  Believe me I’ve been there, it isn’t fun. 

It is also important to know how the child is getting home the very first day of school and each day there after.  Often on the first day the parents make special arrangements to pick-up their child, then after that day-care will pick up.. Or, the child might not have any idea of who is picking them up and the parent didn’t bother to tell the child,
Free Download of student information card.  Great to hand out on the very first day of school or at kindergarten orientation.
I know some of you are still in planning mode or organizing so here are some labels to use on your center tubs,  I used the red for Language Arts and the blue for Math..  I printed on cardstock, laminated and then used double sided tape to adhere.
I use the Sterilite Large Clip tubs for all of my centers. (affiliate Link)

Starting out each year I begin with my six simple rules from Whole Brain Teaching.  If you haven't read the book- you should. and you can download my FREE WBT poster too.

Last is my Letter Naming Fluency Freebie- if you are new to my site I encourage you to sign up for my email list and you can try out several weeks of my Letter Naming Fluency pack for FREE.

Dibbles Practice at home- Letter Naming Fluency Homework

I am flying down Saturday morning to Anaheim for the week for the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference.  I hope to learn lots of great things, meet new people connect with old friends and most of all have a wonderful time.  You can follow my shenanigans- on IG and FB.
Have a great week!!!!!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why You Should Use Interactive Calendar Notebooks

Calendar time has always been a very important daily routine in my kindergarten classroom.  In fact if you ask any kindergarten teacher, I'm sure they will tell you that calendar time is one of those kindergarten foundational routines.  It is just something that almost every kindergarten classroom does. However, it can be one of those routines, that teachers find difficult to manage.
Calendar Math Journals: Use this Interactive Calendar Notebook to expand your morning calendar routine and make it interactive for all students.
I began Interactive Calendar Notebooks when I was tired of fighting the battle of getting all of my students to focus.  A few were paying attention while the others were playing with shoelaces, drawing patterns on the carpet with their fingers or asking to go to the bathroom, even though they didn't really need to go.  They were were bored.  It wasn't their turn to be the calendar helper.

I get a lot of emails asking me how I use my Interactive Calendar Notebooks so I decided to make a video that explains it little bit more.
So that is how I use calendar notebooks and here is the BIG reason WHY... By giving every student their own calendar notebook it gives every student something to be accountable for during calendar time.  Every students is now responsible for participating and following along.  They are now actively engaged in the learning process.  Students are no longer a member of the audience.  

They are learning a ton of math skills during calendar.  You are front loading math skills that you might be teaching later on in your math curriculum, but you are doing it ever so slowly, like with tally marks or addition using the dice or dominoes.  By the time you actually get to it your students will be whizzing right through it. 

The best part to this is you have a front row to a captive audience, you can quickly glance down to see who is understanding concepts and who isn't.  If you see that someone doesn't understand the ten frame model, you can quickly stop- reteach and move one. 

Here are a few pictures of what my calendar wall looks like. You can find these kits in my TpT store under Calendar Notebooks.  I have several kits and you can purchase them in a bundle with the notebooks if you'd like.Use calendar walls with  Interactive Calendar Notebooks to expand your morning calendar routine and make it interactive for all students. Use calendar walls with calendar notebooks to expand your morning calendar routine

Use this Interactive Calendar Notebook to expand your morning calendar routine and make it interactive for all students. Use this Interactive Calendar Notebook to expand your morning calendar routine and make it interactive for all students.

If you have questions you can always leave them in the comments or email me.  My contact info is above.

Have you signed up to receive my emails- I promise I won't spam your inbox, but I will send you free stuff, and who doesn't like free stuff?

Have a great weekend and stay safe.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Teachers Don't Have Summers Off

As a teacher it does get tiring hearing that phrase "oh it must be nice having the summers off"  Yes , it is nice, but I really don't have my summers free.  Sure I do sleep in past that 5:30 alarm clock.  It is nice to sleep till 8:00 or even dare I say maybe 8:45 AM but, my summers aren't spent watching Days of Our Lives, eating Bon Bons and lounging in my pajamas.  My summers are spent working.
The best teacher supplies on Amazon at the best prices

I spend a portion of my summer prepping for the upcoming school year, I may do this in my pajamas while I watch HGTV- I do like me some Fixer Upper.  But, the point is I'm working.  I am printing, laminating, cutting, organizing, prepping and planning for the next school year.

To do all of this I need supplies.  Thank goodness for Amazon Prime.  I don't know how I lived without it.  They had everything I needed to help me get ready for the school year.

I was in need of lamination and cardstock and Amazon had both.  I've looked other places and couldn't find it any place else for a better price. They have so many different colors of cardstock available.

While I was shopping, I also added some more storage bins to my cart.  The Sterelite Clip boxes are my favorite. I have 36 large ones that hold my centers and math program.  Then I have have a variety of smaller ones that hold manipulatives and such.  I may have bought a dozen more. These prices are the best.  I know as I have been buying them for years. Here is what my organization looks like.  I have an old wooden mail sorter that I keep them in.
kindergarten classroom organization using Sterilite clip boxes and a wooden mail sorter
At the end of the school year I also made a list of supplies I would need to stock up on for the next school year.  So, I ordered those too. magnetic tape was one that I always need.  This stuff I really like.  It works great to hold pieces to my white board.  I have even put it on things that are laminated and they still stay up.
Sharpies was another item on my list.  I like to have a variety of colors.  It has been a few years since I have bought colored sharpies and the ones I have now have dried out.

Although I have listed my paper cutter below.  I did not buy this today.  I actually bought it in September, but thought I would add it incase some of my readers are in the market for a new one.  It took a while to get used to the paper guide, but I like how it cuts.  The blade is sharp.

Please note that affiliate links are listed below. Any money I make from these links goes directly back to my classroom.

This last item I'm sharing becasue it is an AMAZING deal.   You get 6 of these cases if you need storage for centers. I used to use these when I scrapbooked.  They are sturdy and are bigger than the clip boxes.  Seriously, I think I need to go back and order these too. Who knows how long this price will last!!!

I'll admit it is dangerous to just be able to click and shop, but I love the convenience of it and the prices rarely can be beat.  I'll be back with more Amazon steals and deals before school starts.  Don't work too hard.  I may go try to enjoy the pool, if the husband is done mowing the lawn.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How Parents Can Help With Reading Fluency

Imagine it is the beginning of the school year, you've just assessed all of your kindergarten kids and guess what, only a few know some of their letters.  Are you surprised?  Not me.  I teach at a Title 1 school, so only my students who are coming to me from our TK classroom or Headstart will have letter ID and even then they have been out of school for 12 weeks so they may have forgotten some. My job is to have them fluent in letter names, sounds, sight words,  CVC words and nonsense words by June, ummm- OK- sure.
How Parents Can Help With Reading Fluency: Get parents involved at home for just a few minutes a night supporting their children on the road to reading success.
So why is fluency so important? Fluency is the bridge between word recognition and comprehension.  Readers who have difficulty decoding words will have a much harder time comprehending the text.   They will be spending all of their time focusing on the decoding rather than understanding the meaning behind the words they are so desperately trying to read.

How does one become fluent? With practice- just as if you were learning a foreign language, you need to practice to become fluent.  Reading is no different.  Children need to practice reading and reading orally helps children to become fluent readers.  Having parents help at home in the process from the very beginning helps set the foundation to a successful educational journey.  If I can send my kids off to first grade reading fluently at grade level, then I know I've given them the skills they need to succeed as readers.  They won't be struggling with the decoding,  they will be focussing on the text and their parents will have helped in the process and hopefully will continue to help in the years to come.

Alright back to my first week of school and my kids who I've just assessed. So now what?  Where do I begin? I start at the beginning and I include the parents in the process.  Luckily for me our back-to-school night is usually the second week of school.  This gives me the opportunity to explain my expectations to the parents of how they will be helping their child at home and how it will only take a few minutes of their time each night. I start with the Letter Naming Fluency Homework.
Letter Naming Fluency Homework: improve your Dibels Scores
Here is how it works- as the child reads the letters the parent circles the letters read correctly, then they sign it at the bottom.  

This paper does two things 
1- it tells me if the parent is helping their child at home.
2- it is letting the parent know what their child needs help with. 

If the child know all of their letters but doesn't know all of their sounds- I send home the First Sound Fluency Homework it is the same format. 
First Sound Fluency Increase your Dibels scores
Once we've gone through our alphabet for letters and sounds, which is our first trimester we move onto sight words. However, depending on the class, I often start sight words sooner becasue they are ready for them.  Last year I had many students on sight words in the first trimester becasue they knew all the letters and sounds. Sight words is the same format.  

My parents are familiar with it and know what to do.   My students love it becasue it is easy for them.  In the beginning it starts out with the words we have already been learning since the first week of school- I, like, my...
sight word fluency:Increase you students reading fluency
By then end of the second trimester we are ready for C-V-C words.  If I still have some students who need sight word practice they might get both for homework. Being that it only takes a few minutes to do both half pages parents don't seem to mind.

Although some of these programs are listed as 25 or 36 week programs obviously  you couldn't do all programs end to end in a school year.  What I do is skip pages in between.  I might do page 7a,7b and 9c, 9d in a week just to give variety.  You can go as fast or as slow as you need to.  You can have students on different pages as needed as well.  Make it work for you!
C-V-C Word Fluency:increase your students reading fluency with nightly homework
Last in my series of nightly reading homework comes the Nonsense Fluency Homework.  My kids love these.  This really shows me if they have phonemic awareness or not. Can they really read cvc words without sounding and blending each letter? 
Nonsense Word Fluency: Increase your Dibels scores
Now some of you might be thinking well, my kids don't have people to help them with homework or their parents are just signing it.  Yes this happens and here is how I address this.  For the parents that just sign it or if I think they are just signing it.  I assess the kids.  Kids are honest and will tell you.  "My mom just signs it I don't actually read it"  #kidstellthetruth 

I call the parents and let them know that I can see they are working at home with their child each night and I really appreciate it.  Then I tell them, that when I am assessing their child at school it isn't transferring.  They aren't able to show what they know at home at school, and ask them to spend a few more minutes each night working with their child.  i offer a few more examples of how to work with their child.  Most parents are receptive and are willing to put in the time.  Of course they won't admit they haven't been working with their child. Some might say they didn't understand what to do, but the majority will step up.  

Now for those few who don't have someone.  I either pull them aside  a few times a week, get a volunteer or sometimes I have had another student in class be their peer buddy.  It only takes a minute, that is the beauty of it.

So, if you like what you see, you can grab all 5 of these in a big bundled value set in my TpT store.
Building Reading Fluency Bundle for Kindergarten: great for creating that home to school connection or use in class for RTI
Still not sure-  Sign up for my emails and receive a 3 week sample of the Letter Naming Fluency pack to try out with your classroom.
Need more proof, here are what a few teachers
who used these products have said.

Have questions- I'm just an email away.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

End of the Year Clean Up Time

It's that time of year when teachers are cleaning up their classrooms, packing up and saying so long kids. Many teachers, like me, like to get a jump on next year.
end of year classroom cleaning, the best tools to get the job done

What does that mean, it means cleaning all the dirt and grime off of everything that has accumulated over the last nine months of school.  How do those crayon containers manage to get that dirty?  Have you ever wiped the edge of a table? Let's talk dust- isn't it amazing how much dust accumulates over the course of a school year on your desk? How is that even possible with all the things piled on it as a protective layer.  Yuck?

So the big question is where do you begin?  My first reaction is to close the door and run screaming,  because seriously I have way too much stuff.  My second gut reaction is to pull the fire alarm or pray the maybe it will all just vanish becasue the cleaning fairy will have come- that really did happen one time-  not the fire alarm, but the cleaning fairy. It was Open House and a parent came in to help me clean things up and wipe things down.  #loveher.  I've tried to keep those areas clean since then.

So back to where do we start.  Pick one area and work on it until you are satisfied with it.  Don't move about the room working in different spots.  This will cause you to just make big messes in all areas. This is my to do list for the summer, some of which I have already completed

  • Organize class library: Add new books- take out old ones, add labels to missing books (done)
  • Organize math program into containers (done)
  • Organize Literacy program into binders (done)
  • Go through math shelves-purge math centers no longer use
  • Go through file cabinet-purge
  • Craft drawers- purge the unused items
  • Housekeeping/dress-up downsize items
  • Teacher manuals resource books purge
As I work I use my tables; one is the donation table, one is the dumpster table and one is to give to someone or someplace specific.   Once the area is clean, I wipe it out with a disinfectant wipe.  Then I put the items I'm keeping back and admire my work.   

So that takes care of the inside of my classroom clutter, but then there are the items that the kids use that need to be REALLY cleaned, like the table caddies , the scissors and other containers.  People are always asking how to get crayon off, even our custodian was saying he couldn't get it off my floor, then I showed him the Mr. Clean magic eraser- and like Magic- it erased the crayon.  The dishwasher will not melt the crayon off of your containers.  It may disinfect them, but they will still LOOK dirty.  I soak mine for about five minutes in hot soapy water.  Really that isn't even necessary, but might as well get the washing party started.  Then I wet the eraser and start wiping away the crayon- rinse and wipe more if necessary.

Scissors, glue tubs and even glue sponges have all been washed in the dishwasher and are all waiting back at school.  Glue sponges I did wring out in hot soapy water a few times by hand first just to get all of the glue out before running through the dishwasher.  My chair pockets came off the last week of school, were washed and they too are back at school.  When I return in August.  I won't have to clean anything, and I didn't have to bring it home for the summer.  I did it all the last week.

So what tools do you really need to clean your room

Mr. Clean Erasers

  • containers
  • dry erase boards
  • floors
  • walls
  • helps to remove label residue 


  • mirrors
  • window

Kids and Pets (find it at Walmart in the cleaning section

Goo Gone and a Scraper

  • remove labels
  • remove tape
Now it is your turn- Do you have some tips to share for cleaning your classroom at the end of the year?  I'd love to hear them.  I'm always on the lookout for anything that can save me time and keep my classroom clean in the process.

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