Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Power of Positivity {Feb. 22}

Hey there! Welcome back to The Power of Positivity linky party! I know up here in CT we can definitely use some positivity because this snow is getting us down! Here are some highlights from my week!
With all of the snow and freezing temperatures here, it is easy to feel tired and lazy. I am working my very hardest this week to transform my room into the arctic to bring learning to life for my little kinders!  I got into a bit of a "teacher slump" last week, and I think a change of scenery will get us excited about the weeks ahead! I can't wait to post about it next week along with my newest product… a nonfiction unit featuring winter animals!
Link up with me to join in on the fun and enter for your chance to win $5 to my TPT store! A winner will be randomly chosen and announced in next week's post! Use the button and graphic below to write your blog post.


I hope you all have a wonderful week!
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Informational Writing in The Primary Grades

Happy Saturday! I am so excited to tell you about what may turn out to be my favorite writing unit of the year! When we began to plan for this unit, I was dreading it! Last year, our curriculum did not align to the CCSS for informational writing, and it was a struggle to figure out what the published product was supposed to look like. This year, we decided to change it up to fit the CCSS {which would make sense, right!?}. After much research, I suggested that the students should write informational books about each other! My team loved the idea, and we are now in the midst of the unit. Here's a peek at how it's going!
Before diving in to having the students interview each other as their "research," we decided to go through the whole process as a class, and write a book about our classroom aides. First, my students brainstormed a list of questions that we should ask Mrs. Auger.
As you can see, they thought of A LOT of questions! This would be a super long book if we included each question, so I narrowed the list down to 5. Then, the students and I interviewed Mrs. Auger {sparkly microphone and all!}.
Then, it was time to start writing! We spent some time discussing how we can take Mrs. Auger's answers and turn them into sentences. I did all of the writing the first day because I am anal and wanted the writing to be perfect. The second day, I got over myself, and decided that it would be way more meaningful if I shared the pen with the students. So, I did! I am SO happy that I decided to do this. My students were SO excited to write on big chart paper and show off their writing skills!
Next up, we needed to switch from the role of authors to the role of illustrators. I let the kids pick their own partners {reminding them, of course, that if someone asks them to be their partner, their answer is always YES unless they already have a partner!}. I did a mini lesson on how the illustrations had to take up the whole page because we're not used to using paper that big, and in no time, they were off doing their sketches!
I was so proud of the DETAIL that each pair put into their illustrations! 
Once they were finished sketching, they were able to start coloring. I wanted to do something out of the ordinary to get them excited for this book, so I let each pair choose one part of their illustration that they wanted to color with marker. They were PUMPED!
I wish you could see their faces and how proud they are of their work! Here are some of the final pages…

 When we were all finished, we discussed what should be on our cover. We decided it would be best to use a real picture of Mrs. Auger, because nonfiction books sometimes have real photographs!
 Now that we finished our class book, my kiddos are so excited to begin interviewing their friends and writing their own book! I know that they will be successful since we've already gone through the process once together! We just started our first day of interviewing, and I can't wait to share the rest of this unit with all of you. Stay tuned!
Happy teaching!
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Power of Positivitiy… I'm a fur mom!!

Hi everyone! I'm sorry this post is being published so late tonight, but I have a good reason! I had to go to sleep super early last night so that Niko and I could wake up bright and early this morning to drive 3 hours back home to Long Island and pick out our PUPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Did I put enough exclamation marks!? I am SO excited; I have been waiting since my birthday in July to get to pick him out and now the day has finally come. Don't worry, I won't share this with you and not give you a picture. Here he is! Meet my fur baby, Dexter.
I'm seriously in love. It was so hard leaving him at the breeder today, because he is too young to come home. March 22nd can't get here fast enough!
Here is a snapshot of my week:
Want to link up? I will keep the linkup open all week since I am posting this so late! Please link back to this post so that others can join in on the fun too!

If you link up, you'll be entered to win $5 to my TPT store at the end of the month!
I hope this face makes your Monday wonderful!
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Monday, February 9, 2015

The Power of Positivity {Feb Wk 2}

Happy Monday! I hope you had a relaxing weekend and are ready for a full week ahead! {Unless, of course, you are beginning your week with a snow day!}
I have been so bummed this week. After doing lots of product work on Monday and Tuesday, I cannot find my flash drive ANYWHERE!!!! Seriously. I've looked everywhere. Twice.
So, since I spent my whole week and weekend cleaning, searching, and organizing every place I've been in the last week, I ran out of time for my Power of Positivity post yesterday! I am definitely thankful to sit and think of the GOOD things that happened this week, even though it was very difficult since my thoughts are clouded by my missing flash drive…
Want to link up with me? Save the image to your computer and edit it with your own highlights from last week! Use the button to link back to my page so that others can view the link up too! 

Need an incentive? At the end of every month, I randomly choose one person who linked up to win a $5 store credit to my TPT store! I can't wait to read about your weeks!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Teachers' Guide To Guided Math

A few of the Facebook communities that I am a part of have been having various discussions about teaching math. Some teachers teach whole group, some teach in small groups, some have various technology resources available to them, and some have none. I have spent most of my focus this year and last year trying to find a happy balance of math instruction and meaningful independent work, and I think I've finally found something that works for me. I hope you'll find some tips in this blog post that will work for you and your students as well!
I'm not going to bore you with what I've tried previously, because that would be a waste of your time! So let's dive right in to my happy math place! My math block is right after specials, so before we dive into math instruction, we start with a math warm up. I made these math warm ups up off the top of my head one day after my students were WIRED when they came back from specials. I didn't want to do a regular brain break, because I wanted to get their brains in math mode. I compiled these warm ups into an interactive PowerPoint. My helper of the day clicks a shape and it brings them to a direction such as "hop on one foot" and then we do the action the same number of times as days we've been in school. I am working on making it available to you on TPT very soon!
Then, we move onto calendar. We do the normal calendar things: date, month, day of the week, number of days in school, place value, hundreds chart, etc. Once we are finished with calendar, we move onto our whole group journal exploration. I use my SmartBoard for this because the file that I created is interactive white board compatible. However, if you do not have an interactive white board, you can still join in on the fun! 
I read the journal prompt and we turn and talk to a friend about how we can solve it. Then, I have some students come up to the board, and SHOW their solution. The file is completely interactive so that students can actually drag the counters onto the ten frames, use the pens to count and check, and move them to count and scoot. Here, you can see one of my students solving the problem using the "use a ten frame" strategy.
Then, we turn and talk some more about how we can PROVE our answer. I listen in for lots of math thinking. It's so important for students (even in kindergarten) to be able to explain how they got their answer. Yes, this was definitely messy the first few days, but now that they understand what math talk is, they've got it! I have a few students share what they would write in their journals, and some write their responses on the white board as an example. Now it is time for them to work on their own journal prompts INDEPENDENTLY. 
The journal prompts that I give to my students are very similar to the one that we just explored in class. The only difference is that it has different numbers. In the file that I created, all journal prompts are in PAIRS with one version for whole group exploration, and one for student independent work. They are able to work independently, because they saw a similar prompt modeled by me and their fellow classmates, and got to participate in guided practice.
My kiddos get to choose what strategy they want to use to solve their journal prompt. I place table caddies on each table with glue sticks, scissors, manipulatives, and ten frames. Everything that they would need is right at their fingertips!
So what am I doing while my class is working independently on their journals? I pull some students who need extra instruction and work with them at my table. These students solve 1 journal prompt a week instead of 5 like the rest of my class. I meet with them every day to review concepts such as one to one correspondence, counting and cardinality, number writing, etc. 
As the rest of my class finishes up with their journals, they leave them in a basket for me to look at later. Then, they go to their math stations. I assign everyone a place to go to (computer or practice bins) on my SmartBoard {sorry, don't have a picture!}. I also pull another group at this time for some higher level math activities and enrichment. I usually meet with these students every other day.
The rest of my kiddos grab the bin that they are assigned to, and get to work! This is where I store my math bins. I usually change out one activity on Fridays. The rest of the bins stay the same so that I am not constantly teaching new activities! I think the key to this is making sure that the activities you have in your math bins are open-ended enough that students can do them over and over and they will never have the same experience! Some of my favorite activities to put in here are I Spy, Write the Room, Roll and Write, and some partner games. You can check out some examples in my TPT store here and here.
I love seeing my students engaged and learning!!
So, can kindergarteners actually have a meaningful independent journal experience? Yes they can! Here are some examples of completed journals by my students.
 "No. Used a ten frame."
 "No. She has 18. I used a ten frame."
"No. I used count and check. She has 17."
I am LOVING my math block now! My students are working independently and LEARNING while they are working. I think that I owe this to working through a similar journal prompt before releasing students to work on their own. Especially in kindergarten, it is hard to expect students to go to a journal "center" by themselves if they cannot read the prompt! 
How can you get your hands on these journals? I've just uploaded them to TPT {click here to buy}! BUT, before you buy, you can snag a free preview! The example from my blog post is just ONE of the many different types of posts in my teen number bundle. There are 3 sets: number sense, comparing numbers, and decomposing numbers. There are instructions on how to use this product as a whole group instruction and independent journals. There are even ideas on how to use this product if you don't have an interactive white board! What have you got to lose except your boring math instruction!?
Click on the image to snag your free preview:

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Power of Positivity, FREEBIE, & SALE!

Happy Superbowl Sunday!!!! I hope you all survived the snow this past week. I enjoyed my fair share of delays, snow days, and early dismissals! Since I got so much done, I have a lot to blog about today. I apologize in advance for this being a very disjointed post!! First up, it's time for the first February Power of Positivity!
I had a lot of time to focus on the positive this week. Wanna see why?
That's why! And this was only Tuesday morning. The snow kept falling until Wednesday afternoon. I hate snow, but I was definitely grateful to have some uninterrupted time to plan and work on TPT! What was I working on, you ask? A Groundhog Day FREEBIE of course!
Aren't these little groundhogs adorable?! We had a blast making them! I was nervous that we were going to miss out because of the snow, but we made it in after a delay on Friday morning. First, we read Substitute Groundhog which is one of my FAVORITE books! It's also a great book to talk about some vocabulary like "substitute," talk about the difference between fiction and nonfiction, and make predictions. After lunch, we talked about the real Groundhog Day, and we voted on whether we want the groundhog to see his shadow or not.
Once everyone voted and gave a reason for their opinion, they started writing! I allowed my students to copy the phrases "sees his shadow" and "doesn't see his shadow" because I was more concerned with them writing their reason. Do your kiddos love writing on the floor? Mine do!
Want to grab this Groundhog Day freebie? Click here to download it for free in my TPT store!
Next up, in honor of the Superbowl, some of my best blogging buddies and I are throwing a SALE! My whole store will be 20% off until tomorrow! Click here to shop now!
And last but definitely not least! It's time to announce the winner of January's Power of Positivity store credit! Drumroll please...
Please email me at gmpeluso@gmail.com for more information! Want a chance to win February's $5 TPT store credit? 

Use this blank template in your own blog post, and use the button to link back to my blog. Then, come back and link up your Power of Positivity posts here!!
Have a fabulous week!
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