Sunday, May 29, 2011

Word Wall Linky Party

One of may favorite things in my class room is my word wall. I've seen many kinds of words walls and while I love most of them, I just ADORE mine. Partly because I think it is brilliant that I have multiple grade levels on one wall. :) I do this by color coding the words. Take a look:
I start the year with an ocean them and so I used two kinds of construction paper as my ocean background. I had them laminated and alternated them to make a contrast. I feel this makes it easier for my students to identify the sections of the words. The letters are just Trend letter that have been laminated. The ocean cut outs come from DJ Inkers Ocean Bulletin Board set. As I've mentioned in previous posts, most of my room is color coded, red for Kindergarten, blue for 1st grade. At first I thought the 1st grade words would get lost in all the blue green of the background but this color blue has enough contrast they seem to pop. The red stands out a lot, but that is also good for my Kinder Kids who are experiencing the word wall for the first time.

I start the year with their names and add their HFW weekly. I do want to mention that I do not add the words until the end of the week. We first study our words and keep them in our class fish. (see picture below)
I am sure you have noticed that all of our words are laminated. Long ago, I used to write the words on sentence strips and put those on my word walls. Well, that was when I had a much larger room and had much more space for my word wall.
Here is a picture of the classroom I had 5 years ago in FL and taught first grade. If you look close the word wall is on the far left on yellow butcher paper.
One things I did not like about that system was that I always made a new set of words yearly. I always felt wasteful at the end of the year trashing those words. Also, at times I even got behind on adding the words to my word wall... yikes. I always felt like I was letting my students down because they could not depend on me being consistent with the weekly words. With this system they are already done. (More on that in a bit)

When I moved into my current space, I wanted to revamp my word wall system and also had to figure out a condensed version of a word wall. That is when I thought of this:
I thought to my self, if I can get all the words in on a sheet of construction paper this might actually work. Then came the task of making words large enough for students to see from their desk, but small enough to fit in the construction size paper. At first I felt that the black Trend letter were too large, but they seem work now. I only struggle with the very popular letters like  a, m, s and t. Then I get creative. :)

I keep all my words sorted by week. I write the theme and week they belong to right in the front of the envelope, ie: Theme 1 week1, in envelops. These envelops are kept in a box.This is my "Word Wall Words Box." Every Monday I just go in to my box and pull out the corresponding envelope. Then that envelope gets sorted to the back of the box. Side note: I do have two different kinds of envelopes to distinguish between Kinder and first. I wish I had a picture of this for you, but I did not have the foresight to take one before I packed everything up. :(

All I have to do as I take down my word wall, is to put the words in the right envelope. One of the tasks I am assigning myself this summer is to write all the words on the front of the envelopes so that I do not have to refer to my long term plans to know which words go in which envelope.

There are several types of words walls I like but can't do. First, it the interactive word walls.
These word walls are low enough for students to go get words from the wall and take them back to their seats, write the word and then take it back to the wall. I can't do this because my board is too high for my students. However I have done a Fancy Word interactive board.
I adore this little project because I  love seeing the students getting out of their seats and actively learning new words, as they use the board.

I've also seen word walls that start out with ALL the words on the wall in one color. Once the students learn the words the teacher changes out that word for the same word in a different color. This is a good word wall for rooms with a lot of differentiation going on. More advanced students can also use the word wall and don't have to rely on the pacing of the class. I liked this idea a lot at first, but it would not work for my word wall. I think if I add another color to the wall it would get overwhelming. Unfortunately I could not find a picture of this kind of word wall

I hope this helped you, in one way or another. I always say, even if you have a bad example, you have learned what you DON'T want to do.

Here I go, my first linky part. Here is your bit. What kind word wall do you have in your room?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wonderful Week

I am exhausted and a bit overwhelmed from the amount of work I've had to do, I have had an amazing week. It started of with A Teacher's Plan being featured on Frogs, Bees and under the Seas. Next came the wonderful news that Teaching Blog Addicts, along with my blog and many others blogging teachers that follow, were in the top 50 kindergarten blogs. If that wasn't enough on the last hour of my last day of this school year, I got an email telling me that my Donors Choose Project was FULLY FUNDED! I again was flabbergasted.

Before I go on I do want to stop and mention that I have been outed in my district as a blogger. When I first started blogging I did not think I would have 10 followers let alone 260+ followers. So I said nothing. After a little while I told 1 teacher, then I got the courage to tell my team leader. Then slowly but surely I told some other teachers I worked with, but honestly it was only a handful. Until 2 days ago when I got the news about being a top kinder blog. When I shared the news with my team leader She blew the whistle on me! She sent out an all staff email telling them the news. Ha, ha, really I was surprised that she kept it for so long. I know she REALLY wanted to yell it from the roof tops. :) Then our Media specialist, asked my permission to share with the rest of the librarians/ media specialists in the district. I obliged and well now the secrets out. So if you work in my district and are new to my blog, welcome.
Now let me go back to today. It was our last day of school, for the students at least. I had a very full morning. I had to clean up my room, it was a mess from packing up. Then set up my room with some wonderful pirate gifts from a fellow teacher. (Thank you Ms. K) Once the day got started it went by fast. I am sad I don't have pictures of my students in their pirate gear. They had their patches, hats, tattoos, maps, baggies with a gold coin, and some coloring pages. They looked VERY cute.

In the afternoon I was able to do some packing. I kept busy until the last hour of the day when I sat down to take a break. I checked blogger, then my gmail, then my school email. Low and behold there were 2 emails from Donors Choose. One about a donation and another about my project being fully funded. I was so shocked. I didn't think I would be fully funded on my first try. So for everyone that donated anything, thank you. For those of you that got the word out, thank you. I know my students will benefit immensely from using this technology daily.

If you have not checked out Donors Choose please do. It is fantastic site that helps educators bridge the gap between school funding and money from their own pockets. If you can support an educator, thank you because I know I and any teacher out there appreciates it.
What am I going to do now? Well, I want to get back to posting about school topics. I have a few things in mind that I want to post about. I also want to work on some more of my Lesson Plan Templates and I have a few buttons left to create. However, what I REALLY want to do is get back to reading. I miss reading my fictions books so much, I hope to find a few hours a day to pick up a book and just fall into whatever world I am reading about.

I hope you have a great long weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A total shocker...

I am a bit astonished at the moment. Last night as I was getting ready to pass out at my computer yet again, from working on blog buttons and lesson plan templates, I checked my email 1 more time. (FYI: I am a compulsive email checker. I always feel like there is something important sitting there waiting for me, and most time there is not but... last night there was.) In my inbox is an email from Tamara the author of Teaching with TLC and head of TBA. It was simple & sweet and to the point. It read "Read the TBA post- how exciting! There is some good news about your blog. Congrats!" I thought she was mentioning Frogs, Bees and Under the Seas featuring A Teacher's Plan the other day. Boy was I wrong. Little did I know but TBA, my blog (this blog!), and a slew of other TBA authors and contributors blogs were names as one of the 50 best Kindergarten blogs by CaliforniaTeachingCredential.org.
This is what was said about Ms. M's blog:
Here is what was said about TBA:

How is a girl to sleep after that? Well, let's just say that I was so zonked out that I did pass out pretty fast, but I was still very excited when I woke up this morning. It has given me the energy to get through Field day today.

Thank you to all my readers... those of you I know personally, those of you I know just from blogging and those of you that I may never have met. It is you that inspire me to share my teaching tales.


It's been a fantastic blogging week for me. :) Hope you have a great day. only 2 kid says left for me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More blog buttons...

I have heard that there are several of you that are in need of some blog buttons. I whipped some up. HOWEVER, (here is my disclaimer) I did not make these from scratch. These are actually part of Just So Scrappy Too's brag book pages. They can be downloaded free of charge from her site.
Here are the rules. I will give each button away to 1 person. The person to first leave a comment requesting that button. On your comment please leave your blog name and URL along with an email, so that I may put the text in the button and send you the HTML code. If you would like I can also send you just the image for you to upload to your own photobucket account & insert into the HTML. Your choice. :)

So without further ado, here are the buttons I made tonight.
Fancy Fellow
Kitchen Window
Black Board
Sassy School
Fancy Fish
Pretty in Pink
Classy Classroom

Monday, May 23, 2011

Argh, Some Pirate Fun For You

When I taught Gen Ed 1st grade I used to have an end of the year Pirate Party! Since I left FL I had not revisited my favorite Pirate Theme. I am happy to announce that this year I am going back to my roots.

My fellow teachers think I am nuts because I am putting up stuff as they are all taking theirs down. :/ However, I could not resist making a Pirate themed bulleting board.
 It reads "We ARGHHH ready for 1st and 2nd grade. Aye, Matey, we be landlubbers no more. In 1 weeks time we set sail on a voyage of a lifetime." I think I will all my students sign it. Miss. Maddie suggested I take pictures of my students walking, shrink them and place them on the ship. Great idea, but I don't think I have time to do it. Maybe next year.

Each day last week I read a new pirate story:
Monday: How I became a Pirate
Tuesday: Pirates Don't Change Diapers
(We watched the sequel on Tumble books)
Wednesday: The Gingerbread Pirates
Thursday: The Night Pirates
Friday: Pirate Pete
I did not realize how many pirate books I had.

This week we will read from 2 B&N books. I just had to have when I saw them on the shelf.
I also found some new stories I will be buying for next year.

These were the activities we did after we read our Pirate books:
1. We made a pirate hat From Kids Craft Weekly
2. We made an eye patch
3. We drew a  a treasure map

4. Wrote 3 pirate adventure story using writing paper from Lynda Morgart's Pirate Gold Unit.
AND we
5. Made a Pirate Glyph
I was inspired by Deanna Jump's Pirate glyph and decided to make my own. :)
Here is the Pirate Glyph template I made:
(I printed the first sheet on tan paper so they wouldn't have to spend too much time coloring it in.
Pirate Glyph
Pirate Glyph 2
Here is a picture of our Pirate Glyph Key

Here is what they look like:

We have also done some great activities from from Lynda Morgart's Pirate Gold Literacy & Math Activities. If you have not checked it out please do so. She practically did all the work for me.

This week we will continue to read our pirate books, watch The Muppet's Treasure Island and have a Pirate Party. We will wear all of our pirate gear at our pirate party and we will get to eat some delicious "Gold" popcorn!

We've had a BLAST!