Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Balanced Literacy ♥ Pink Digraph Freebie

Okay, so I'm old school.  I remember whole language, direct instruction, and phonics-based literacy instruction... all of them.  I've used all of them independently of one another before the powers that be realized that could work in unison!  I learned about whole language while earning my bachelors degree at the amazing Texas Woman's University and then I got into the classroom and was forced to use a scripted phonics program.  I felt my love for teaching disappear with every line of that script.  We actually were required to say, "get ready" before the kiddos sounded out a word.  Ugh... I was not good at teaching that program and the teaching police were not afraid to tell me about it.

My third year in the kindergarten classroom we switched to Open Court.  I fell in love with teaching literacy all over again.  I saw the fun in reading, the joy in picture books, and the profound excitement in the faces of munchkins when they were able to decode all by themselves.  Joy!

I realize these are just "canned" programs and that teaching is WAY more than prepackaged materials, especially in these days of high expectations, federal mandates, and state standards that must be met.  Kindergarten is no longer just learning your ABC's like when I was a munchkin.   However, when you take the best pieces of all of these kits and use them in the classroom you are able to increase student success, increase academic rigor, and use the strategies from each piece to meet the individual & multiple intelligences within the classroom.  It becomes a lot easier to put down the big ole heavy teacher editions when you know what's inside the box & how to use it to fit your munchkins abilities.

[Enter] Balanced Literacy ♥

Did you hear the angels sing?  Every time I walk into Hobby Lobby I hear angels sing... it's the mecca of crafty happiness just like Balanced Literacy is the Eden of reading instruction for me.  Silly, I know... but, meh.  :)

Just like there are 5 key components to reading success (phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, fluency, & vocabulary), there are 5 main components to Balanced Literacy:
  1. Reading Aloud
  2. Shared Reading
  3. Independent Reading
  4. Word Study 
There is just something magical about the number 5.  These components go perfectly with the Daily 5 by The Sisters.  It's no wonder the D5 has become so popular and widely used by teachers across the country.

I've been working on a CAFE set (not endorsed by The Sisters in any way.... my tiny disclaimer) that is aligned to the 1st Grade TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) since we are one of only a few states who have not adopted the new Common Core Standards, I wanted to make it specific to our little neck o' the country.  Here's a preview, but they are not complete so I have not uploaded them.  The clipart is of course, the gorgeous DJ Inkers of Happiness. 

Pink is making me so happy... y'all should see my classroom!  :)

With these factors in mind, I want to beef up the resources available to munchkins in the classroom.  The things I've made & put in previous posts will be perfect if I use them well and teach the kiddos how to make the most of them, but I've got a lot of work yet to do. 

clicky here! :)
One of my biggest challenges walking into the 2012-2013 school year is trying to work out classroom space... space for books, space for manipulatives, space for individual book boxes, space for reading nooks, space for centers, space for textbooks (OMG.. textbooks! This will be a first for me.), and the list goes on...

I also need space for pink stuff. I'm having a great time pinkin' it up!!  With that in mind, I've reworked my Digraph Dots after doing some more research & trying to learn about 1st Grade expectations.  So, they're here if you'd like a set. Beware:  they are outlined in PINK!  You should see the pink paper I put up on my wall yesterday.  It is so dreamy!  And where do you all find space for everything?  I have no idea where I'm going to squeeze all the stuff I have into one bookshelf & one rolling bookshelfie type center holder thingie bobber.... I'm at a loss, but I'm loving it all the same. 

I blabbed a lot on this one... so sowwy.  

Squirrel!  :)

Great Resources Online:
Instructional Strategies Online
K12 Reader:  Reading Instruction Resources for Teachers & Parents
Strickland, D.  (n. d.).  Balanced Literacy. Instructor.  Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/balanced-literacy

Please remember: The graphics used in these items are copyrighted and may not be used for your own commercial projects or distributed to others. By purchasing or downloading this file, you agree to the Terms of Use. This file is for personal use only, please do not distribute.

Monday, August 6, 2012

CAFE headers... in PINK! :)

Look what I'm working on! I am so excited I can hardly stand it... my classroom is going to be laced with heavenly pink touches this year.  I've always had a little pink touch somewhere, but my colors have always been blues & greens.  Soothing earthy tones have kept it kid-friendly, calm, and warm.  I'm still planning to have some of that green & blue because I can't tear myself away from it, but here comes some PINK!

CAFE Headers

If you do not follow "Ladybug's Teacher Files" you must become acquainted.  This post about her CRAFT setup is what has inspired me to take the plunge into the CAFE originally created by The Sisters, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  I can't wait to get into the classroom and see how it works with the funny munchkins.  They LOVE the Daily 5 pieces that we incorporated last year so I think taking this one step further (and cuter... LOL) is completely worth the effort.

Just as a disclaimer, I am not associated with "The Sisters" in any way.  I am a fan, but I am not otherwise affiliated and this is not endorsed by them, yadda yadda... :)

Here are the headers for CAFE in cutesy DJ Inkers clipart that I turned PINK!  OMG... I hope DJ Inkers doesn't get too upset with me for using that glorious pink fill bucket on a black and white image.  You know I love you, DJ!  :D

We all know the incredibly important "5 keys to reading success," right?  Phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary...not necessarily in that order.  You knew that!  The Sisters' CAFE focuses on a few of those skills.

I can't wait to use this in my guided reading block.  I don't know near enough, I need to learn more, so forgive me for not having all the pieces in place... but here is what the acronym for CAFE stands for.  I suppose we could put the "5 Keys" together in an acronym but I don't think we'd remember PaPCFV as easily as CAFE. 

C:  Comprehension
A:  Accuracy
F:  Fluency
E:  Expanding Vocabulary

After I learn a little bit more and have a tee-niney more free time on my hands, I will think about making some of my own strategy cards.  For now, though I may use the adorable ones that Kristen, aka Ladybug, created and posted on her site.  Check out her blog.  There are literally zillions of great ideas.  

Grab your free set of pink headers if you like and then go visit Jennifer Jones at Hello Literacy to grab some more literacy ideas and adorable fonts, and then hop over to DJ Inkers to grab some cuteness.  You'll be glad you became obsessed did, like me. 

♥ thanks for visiting!

Please remember:  The graphics used in these items are copyrighted and may not be used for your own commercial projects or distributed to others. By purchasing or downloading this file, you agree to the Terms of Use. This file is for personal use only, please do not distribute.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Color Chart Weekly Take Home Freebie (no art)

PDF File, No AI had a very kind request to post this chart so that teachers could use their own clip art.  So here are two files.  One is a pdf you can simply print & stick your own art on to photocopy.  The other is an editable Word file you are free to use!  Change the wording, change the colors, add your classroom mascot. 

The fonts are "LD Elementary" and "First Grader" if they don't come through for you.  They are both free to download if you do a search for them.  I don't remember exactly where I got them.

I'd appreciate a quick note if you download, just so I know if these are getting used.  
Thank you!  ♥

*8/5/2012 The editable document messes up in formatting when uploaded to the Google Drive.  When I download it as a Word File, the formatting is still all wonky.   Anybody out there that can teach me how to fix that?  Thanks & sorry!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Techno Munchkins :)

I've been thinking about all the great ways I can incorporate some more technology into the school day.  I really want students to have some independence, skills that are applicable in the real world, and I want them to have fun!  The biggest problem is the limited amount of technology available to the kiddos.  We have once computer.  Yes, you read right... ONE computer.  The past two years, I have been lucky enough to have snagged one of the two SMARTboards in our building, but I don't know if that will happen this year.  When I say limited technology, I mean it!

Rotation Station Name Cards
So... the first challenge is going to be how to set up the classroom so that the kiddos and I can share the one computer.  It's going to have to be accessible from the small group table, and in a spot where I can project onto the build in white board, just in case I don't get to hang onto the SMARTboard of Happiness. Thank heavens I still have some time to figure out the arrangement.

Now for the independence part.  I'm loving the "I Can" posters I'm seeing on Pinterest.  I want to incorporate that into a rotation station where the kids can choose from a variety of activities that will all have academic value but are not necessarily tied to a certain content area.  The reason for that is the limited technology available and the fact that I really want them to have independence and choice.

Below is a short list of incredible websites that I'm planning to incorporate.  With training, I'll add Word, Powerpoint, and some other hands-on programs that students can use to work independently.  At the beginning of the year, I will add the icons to the home screen as they are taught and children have experience with the programs.  Keeping choices to a minimum and then adding more as we go will help to keep teacher assistance minimal.

I think I'll keep a timer at the computer station along with a binder ring of children's names (click here to get the Rotation Station name cards with a-stinkin'-dorable DJ Inkers clipart)  so that they can easily take turns and manage time independently.

I have to find a way to make one computer work while meeting all those technology standards required by the state!  I hope our district can find the funds to help beef up our technology capabilities otherwise the kids will not have a fighting chance in the real world.

A Few Great Academic Websites

Starfall:  Great for early literacy skills!

ABC Mouse:  Specifically for PK & K but great for lower level learners in 1st Grade.

Fuel the Brain:  Lots of wonderful activities all across the curriculum.

Storyline Online:  Actors reading aloud for children.  Wonderful!
Magic Tree House:  20 years worth of great literature for kids come alive here.

KerPoof:  Incredible site for digital storytelling!!

America's Story:  Wonderful activities take children back in time to learn about famous American Figures.