Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites {Chapter 13}

Hope you're loving the book study so far! 
We did a little chapter swapping, so I'll be hosting Chapter 13 over here today!! 

Today we're chatting about Cooperative Learning and Reciprocal Teaching.  The first thing that jumped out at me in this chapter was this quote. 

"Students learn 95% of what they teach to others."

95%...!!? That's BIG!!!

So why is this strategy so effective? Humans are social beings.  We like to talk ya'll!!! We're teachers so I know I'm preaching to the choir here. ;) 

But the key is to set our students up with opportunities to actively discuss content with each other. Give them chances to put into their own words what they have learned and even teach it to a classmate. The above picture was one of those precious random moments where I caught two of my kiddos doing exactly that. The little girl on the right is teaching her pal on the left one of the subtraction strategies we had worked on in class using our whole group number line. Talk about a happy teacher heart!!! Admittedly, I didn't set up this moment. Which in some ways makes it even sweeter. But Marcia's point in this chapter is, as teachers we NEED to be facilitating these moments regularly in our classroom, because they're valuable! 

Something I learned about myself while reading this chapter, pairs are my go to. There is something safe to me about a pair. I do tons of partner pair ups, but anything that involves more than two working in a group that is not directly supervised by an adult makes my inner control freak a little nervous. So one of my goals after reading this chapter is more ways to incorporate group activities where students need to work together to complete a task. Luckily, before I got too down on myself, Marcia said this: 

"However, even periodically, stopping during class time and having students re-teach what they are learning to a student sitting nearby is time well spent!"

Here are a few examples of ways I've made this work in my classroom...

1. Have students briefly engage with multiple classmates (non-ability groupings) 

Left: Inside Outside Circle - Students sit facing each other in a circle. After sharing with their partner the outside circle moves one spot to the left and re-share with their new partner. Repeat. 

Right: Hand Pair Share -You can read my whole post about this activity, here.

**BONUS: The two above activities also incorporate Strategy 10: MOVEMENT**

2. Math Stations: During Math Stations students work together in pairs or groups of 3 at hands on math tubs. When students get "stuck" they turn to each other for help and clarification! Stations are short (10-12 minutes) so they have little time to get off task and their conversations are centered around the task at hand. 

3. Partner Reading Buddies: I especially like to give these guys plenty of opportunity to share favorite facts and re-read important vocabulary together during our non-fiction studies. These are clips from when we studied Spiders in October and Penguins in January.


4. Students as Teachers: After math partners had a chance to talk with each other about the 'counting on' addition strategy, I called on a few kiddos to come up to the board and share their thinking/re-teach the strategy to the class before we ended this whole group portion of our lesson. 

I'm eager to add more ideas to my tool belt on this one!! Can't wait to read what you all have to say in your posts and comments!
Here are the ladies you'll be visiting for the remaining chapters:

KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin' it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)

It's not to late to jump on board!! Even if you just want to keep the conversation rolling over in the comments. Our goal is to keep chatting about these research based best practices and continue learning from each other, just like we learned about in this chapter!!! :)

Your turn. Link it on up down below!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Brainstorming & Discussion

I've only made it to Chapter 4 so far but already I'm thrilled that I got on board with this read. Anytime I find myself going - YES, YES, YES within the first chapter, I know it's worth the read!

This little poem right here. This is something I've always said. We as teachers are ALWAYS talking. It's human nature. Imagine if the first thing teachers had to do every morning was sit together and work in silence. Imagine them working or walking silently anywhere for that mater.

A buzzing classroom is where it's at in my opinion.

Here are some more take aways.

Pair Share With Elbow Buddies

Stdents sit "Elbow elbow, Knee Knee" with their buddies to discuss. This one works in every subject for just about anything. I especially like it when I see the same 3-4 hands going up again and again. I'll say something like, "Hmm. I'm noticing the same people wanting to share but I'd like to hear from everyone. Turn to your elbow buddy and tell them...xyz." Then 30 seconds later when I reel them back I'll say, "NOW, who can tell me xyz." All the hands go up. It's short, pointed discussion time, and for many of them it helps gets those schemas up and moving again. Now they're ready to bring something to the table. They just needed to get those mouths moving again!!! :)

Modeling Discussion Language

This is something I think I've gotten better about doing this year but deff. think I need to work on more. I'm the first one who will tell you that it's critical to model e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. in the primary grades. But sometimes, I need to remind myself that I still need to model things again and again and again. Including the type of language we want our kids to use.

I find that the more I say things, the more the kids start to use them in their own language. When we're discussing anything in class, these are two sentence stems my kids know they should be using. The "respectfully" in the disagree is particularly important. It sounds like such adult language for little people but it's also amazing to hear them use it!

I hope these first few chapters have left you feeling as re-energized as they have me!! See the rest of the links ups going on over on Elizabeth's post by clicking the button below!

To Link up (click on the blue button on Elizabeth's Blog) and prepare for your chapter 3 discussion over at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten on Tuesday! Here is the rest of the schedule and you can join in at anytime!
Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First  Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump’s Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade  Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle’s Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica’s Ed Ventures  Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
The Inspired Apple Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin’ it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)

If you are not a blogger (which is totally fine!!!) we still want to hear from you! Leave a comment below so we can discuss and share together!! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Study! Want to join?!

Happy Tuesday Friends!!

I'm here today to share something I'm super excited about a that's coming your way! But first, I have to start with a little confession. It pains me to admit how little reading for pleasure I get done during the school year unless I happen find myself on winter, spring, or summer break. Truth be told on most days I feels like it's an accomplishment if I've had enough time to check my work e-mail. HA!!  


But if you're any bit of a big ol' teacher nerd like me, it's hard not to love diving into a great "educational" read. Every year I find myself thinking, how I can improve my practice? What new things should I be trying to hep me reach them better?! Every last little one of them. You don't have to tell me it's an overwhelming task to take on. But there is also comfort in knowing we're in it together, right?!! Many of my friends recently got to travel to the Ron Clark Academy. While I wasn't one of the lucky ones who got to visit (It's a the very top of my bucket list for next year-!!) the conversations that followed inspired so many of us to find new and exciting ways to reach our young learners! Really engaging them in meaningful ways!! 

So we decided to start a little book study and we hope you'll join us!

Starting February 28th, some of your favorite bloggers will be hosting a book study every Tuesday and Saturday with chapters from this book right here: 

Nobody should feel like they need to sit down and read it all in one sitting!! It's been paced out so that anybody out there, even those of you with a crazy busy schedule (All the hands shoot up ;) ) can still join in and make it work for you. 

Linky parties will take place on these different blogs each time.
Here is the order so you can plan accordingly :)

Kickin it in Kindergarten- Chapters 1 &2 (February 28th)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten- Chapter 3 (March 7th)
Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First  Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump’s Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade  Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle’s Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica’s Ed Ventures  Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin’ it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)

Elizabeth breaks it down perfectly...

You can join in for whatever part you like! If you are not a blogger, that is OK! We will want you to join in on the fun. You can participate in the conversation in the comments. We want this to be a positive collaboration between teachers! The whole point is to encourage each other with inspiring ideas while still using research based best practice.

Another reason I'm excited for this book study is it goes back to the heart of why I started blogging. Teachers getting together to TALK, collaborate, and learn together!!! Hope to see you on the 28th!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Valentine Eyes {Printable}

Speedy quick post tonight to share this Valentine's Day gift I gave my kiddos last year! It made for lots of happy faces when they dug into their box of treats last year, so I'll be giving them out again this go around! I had some requests on Instagram to share the printable which you can find below.

I buy the eyes in the birthday party aisle at Target. They come in packs of 6 for just $2!! Two tiny dots of the glue gun will keep them stuck on but won't ruin the cards when they're pulled off. They also make for a fun manipulative to use during guided reading groups. 

This year we're celebrating Valentine's Day on FRIDAY THE 13TH!! 

On thing has always been very clear to me...

 Teachers are not in charge of the school calendar!!! ;)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pk1 Conference Recap

Swinging by today to re-cap my time at the PK1 Conference in Santa Clara last week!! I signed on for this conference last Spring knowing that it was taking place the day after my 29th birthday. I kind of have a thing for challenging myself to step just outside of my comfort zone. So even though I'd never presented before I thought, what better way to kick off year twenty-nine?!


In my usual style it was the final hours of my birthday and I was up still packing for an early morning flight. (Apparently that's one bad habit I'm not breaking this year.) It suddenly dawned on me that I was going to have to pack my handouts in my checked bag. So out of curiosity I set em' on the scale. 70 packs of paper does not pack light, let me tell you. First thing the next morning I was Cali bound! Kelley was kind enough to scoop me up at the airport and get me down to Santa Clara.

Goodbye snowy streets...Hello, palm trees!!!

That night we kicked things off with a Blogger Fiesta! We got to mingle with tons of sweet teachers who came down to do just that. We also raffled off some goods.

TPT + Target = My Style.

 Blogger gals and the fabulous ladies that organized the event...!!!
 Saturday was my day to relax and watch some of the pros in action at their sessions. Mine wasn't happening til Sunday which was just fine by me because I was N.E.R.V.O.U.S. I honestly can't even remember the last time I felt as nervous as I was in the days leading up to this weekend. Even after going over the slides a few million times in my head I was convinced there was no possible way I could fill 75 minutes of talk time. There were visions of me standing there at the 45 minute mark with nothing but crickets chirping in the background. Bless Deedee and Deanna for letting me run through my slides with them that night. I went to bed feeling majorly de-stressed.

Sunday morning I woke up feeling ready! No more major nerves. PTL!
Sarah and Molly helped me set up shop which was a huuuge help.

 Cheesin before folks started showing up.  
When all was said and done I had a BLAST!!! A little over 75 people showed up and from the moment they walked in their energy was ON POINT! I officially love me some PK1 I Cali Teachers. Seriously, ya'll can can swing by my neck of the woods anytime. In the end I found myself  having to speed it up through the last section just to make sure I didn't run out of time. It felt like blogging only in real time.

 Apparently I have an adult teacher voice too. Who knew?! #notme

 I wanted to test the waters and see if presenting was something I might enjoy and now I'm already wanting to do it all again, sooner than later. It didn't hurt that I got to spend the weekend catching up with a few of my faves too. Way too many laughs with these ladies right here!

New goal - return  to Cali and make it further than the Starbucks next to the hotel. 

There's always next year, right? ;)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cheers! New Year Sale!!

Happy New Years Eve!! 2014 was a year worth celebrating at the Stewart house. A few words that help sum it all up: nesting, fitness, Hawaii, TPT conference, 5K, family, new & old friends.

I'm dropping by to let you know about a little sale my friends and I at Blog Hoppin' have going
on today and tomorrow as we ring in twenty-fifteen!

My TPT shop will be on sale Dec 31st- Jan 1st!!
Click {HERE} to head on over now or click the picture above.

And stop back tomorrow to snag yourself an organizational treat.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Book Exchange Story

Christmas Break has finally rolled around to my neck of the woods. PTL and Hallelujah... ;) I wanted  to stop by and show you one of my favorite moments from our Holiday party this year. The class book exchange!! Two weeks ago we asked all the first graders to bring in a new or gently used wrapped book. You can see most of them here under the tree. 


When it was time for the exchange we all sat in a circle and I read them a little story I typed up on the fly below. I remembered seeing various versions of "Right" and "Left"stories in the past, but since I definitely procrastinated on looking one up until the last possible second, I decided to make one up.  The idea is, every time the class hears the word 'Left' or 'Right' they have to pass the book in their hands in that direction.

The Right Children

"The Right children always left out the milk and cookies before they went to bed on Christmas Eve. Little Wendy Right asked Tommy Right if their stockings had been hung up with care? Tommy Right told her he had left them in just the right spot. Mr. Right heard his children talking downstairs and asked them why they were up past their bedtime. He told them Santa only left presents for the children who went right to bed. So off the children scurried, and right in the nick of time! When they got to their bedrooms they could hear footsteps on the rooftop. Left and right feet could be heard walking towards their chimney. In the morning, the Right children found their stockings had been left full of presents. Only a few crumbs on the cookie plate were left untouched. They knew right away the magical Christmas fun was just beginning! This left a big smile on both of their faces."

It was a huge giggle fest mess for a few minutes! Books were going left, right, and even across the circle. Everywhere but the right direction it was supposed to at times.  But it definitely added lots of fun and laughter to the exchange!! I'll be doing it this way for years to come! 

Here they are, new books in hand! The boy in the center back cracked me right up! HA!! Just another idea to add to your Holiday tool-belt for next year! 

Sharing a few more highlights from the week over on Blog Hoppin.


 Wishing you all the very Merriest Christmas in just five short days!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

PK-1 Fiesta & Conference Giveaway

Have you heard about the California Kindergarten Association's Annual PK1 Conference?  Well, it's an outstanding 3-day event designed by teachers for teachers specializing in early childhood education.  If you teach TK, Pre-K, K, 1st Grade, or Homeschool and live in the California area, this is definitely an event you don't want to miss. This year's conference is scheduled to take place in Santa Clara, California (just outside of San Francisco).  The festivities kick off on Friday, January 16th with a Pre-Conference Institute and lasts through Sunday, January 18th.  Oodles of professional development workshops ranging from behavior management and the importance of play to integrating the Common Core Standards will be offered throughout the weekend.      

But, wait!!  There's more.  Some of your FAVORITE bloggers are going to be taking part in this amazing conference.  Just look at this fun line-up of blogger presenters that will be at this year's PK1 Conference  . . .





Don't go yet . . . we have even more for you.  Guess what else is happening?? We are thrilled to announce that the PK1 Conference will be hosting it's very first Blogger Fiesta.  At this fun evening event, you can meet and chat with your favorite bloggers over a plate of yummy Mexican apps.  Each attendee will receive dinner, a Blogger CD (filled with $60 of free products), and a raffle ticket to enter to win oodles of other fabulous prizes!  To purchase your $35 Blogger Fiesta ticket, click HERE.

Are you excited yet?  Let's up the ante a bit.  How about a chance to win a FREE conference registration?  Well, it's your lucky day!  The generous folks at CKA have given us one FREE conference registration to give away to our followers. Enter to win via the painless Rafflecopter below.  But, hurry!!!  This giveaway closes Friday evening and our BIG winner will be announced on Saturday, December 13th.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To learn more about PK1 and/or to check out the conference sessions in detail, CLICK HERE!  Thanks for taking the time to visit us today.  We hope to see you at this year's PK1 Conference :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas For The Classroom Giveaway

Christmas is just around the corner and I am THRILLED to be teaming up with some of my favorite bloggers to spread a little extra Holiday Cheer across the blogland this year!!!  We know it's a busy time of year when teachers are busy replenishing supplies and also adding new goodies to their classroom bag of tricks. So let us help fill your stockings this year!!

 Each of the participating bloggers will be giving away a classroom goodie of their choice. For mine, I just knew I had to go with these magnetic tens frames. They've quickly become a favorite of mine this year!! Use them to display the date, during your math lesson, centers... so many fun ways to use these!

Then it's time to enter for the grand prize for an HP Laser Printer!!!!  Just follow the Raffelcopter below and you could have prints that are merry and *bright* for life!! :)

Now make sure to stop by and visit each of these sweet bloggers to see the fabulous goodies they have coming your way! All giveaways will run through Friday Dec. 12th so hurry and enter today!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cranky Franky Freebie

You know those days when you have a bunch of things planned out and then on the whim you change it all up? That was what happened today with this activity. And I'm glad it did because it was fun and not to mention funny for me to hear my kids share all the things that make them cranky! 


This was after we read the story Crankenstein. The kids wrote about their text-to-self connections using this little sheet. If it's too late for you to grab the book this year you should definitely put it on your list for next year. Go ahead and PIN it now so you have it on hand for next year!

Then I typed up this quickie one too for anyone who is going... I JUST NEED ONE MORE THING FOR TOMORROW...but doesn't have the story. Ha!!!

 And last but not least....my little shop is ON SALE today and tomorrow!!

Godspeed tomorrow Friends!!! ;)