Tuesday, March 10, 2015

View our "Resume"! #TeacherFriends Twitter Chat is Ed-Amazing!

Over the past 9+ months an amazing little concept has gradually become a phenomenon! #TeacherFriends Twitter Chat will celebrate our one year anniversary in June, and we could not be more humbled at the incredible response we have received from Top "Celebrities" in the field of education.  We like to call them "Edu-Celebrities". 
Our whole concept was born last summer when my friend Debbie Clement of Rainbows Within Reach had a brilliant EUREKA moment, then contacted myself and Kristen Poindexter from Kristen's Kindergarten.  She proposed  we begin a  chat format like no other--one that would feature top notch educators sharing in meaningful, helpful, uplifting discussions that would resonate within the broader teaching community on Twitter.  But more importantly, she proposed we be the vehicle of introduction to Twitter for numerous educators who had not yet taken the Twitter plunge! 
As "Newbies" ourselves to this format, we brought in Kim Vij from @EducatorsSpin to develop a framework for inviting other newbies to Twitter.  Her expertise on Twitter brought a fresh perspective to our little group of moderators.  Hence, out of this collaboration, our EB Chat (early bird) was born.  So we now offer Twitter "support" beginning at 8:30 EST every Tuesday, then transition to the actual Edu-Celebrity chat at 9:00 EST.  I would like to say it is running like clockwork, and for the most part it is, but just like our students, we will never cease to learn! 
Teachers new to Twitter have come to us over the past few months lending their own important perspective to the topics share each week.  We have grown so much in the knowledge of what really works in education as we gain new friends and continue our chats.
Our list of guests and current topics in education  are becoming an incredible resource for educators because every chat is archived on Storify.  For a sampling of our chats click on some of the photos below to visit sessions from previous guests.
Dr. Jean FeldmanDebbie ClementDeanna JumpDr. Mary HowardImage HTML map generator  
  From guests such as Steve Spangler (of Ellen Show fame), to Heidi of Heidi songs, Kristen Poindexter (Shell's National Science Teacher of the Year), Debbie Clement and her amazing "quilt" story-song books, and many more, our list of Edu-Celebrities has grown.  To see all chats, go to http://storify.com/kimvij
We are so proud to bring these weekly PLC experiences to you at no cost! And we are certain you will take rich learning experiences away from each chat, and possibly a prize from our amazing sponsors.  
To follow our  moderators and become part of our #TeacherFriends happenings, click on the pics below!
Our Moderators:
Debbie Clement, ModeratorKim Vij, Co-ModeratorKristen Poindexter, Co-ModeratorMaggie Hufstedler, Co-ModeratorImage HTML map generator
  Join us tonight as we chat with Edu-Celebrity Kayla Delzer about Tech in the Classroom! 
Remind will be giving away PRIZES! 
Just type #TeacherFriends in the twitter search bar to see the chat.  We recommend http://tweetdeck.com for viewing the chat and observing retweets and direct messages to you!  
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Home Stretch Intervention Tools That Work!

"Do you realize that school is over in just a few months--less than 3 to be exact??? Yikes!!! Where did the year go?!?!"
If you are having this type of stress as I am, you have realized time is passing quickly, and there are still sweet students who have far to go before the last day of school.  I know, we have only just passed mid-February, but throw in some snow days and spring break and you soon realize the actual number of instructional days are limited.  Extremely limited when you also think about assemblies, test days, field days and more! 
(get a grip Maggie-go to your happy place)
So, what's the game plan? How do we maximize exposure to letter and word recognition in order to help students be READY for end of school assessments and first grade? I have a three step approach that is helping my lowest tier students make serious gains in letters, sounds and sight word recognition.  I do use my own resources, but you could adapt what you may already have to this plan.  
Each day, I rotate my lowest tier through three critical, must-do stations/centers.  The first station is our student computer station where I have our alphabet and sight word power points ready to go.  I like to partner students at this station because it becomes slightly competitive, more fun, and it keeps them on task.  My alphabet slideshow states the letter, the sound it makes and the object name for each letter. 
Letters and Sounds Slideshow Center 
Students chant this along with the recorded voice two times (the slideshow loops until students hit the escape key, and my students know to do this at the end of the second round).  Students immediately begin our sight word slideshow, and at this point in the year, I have added short sentences that use each word to help build fluency.  
 Sight Word PPT Slideshow Aligned to Journeys 2014            Sight Word Slideshow Aligned to Lessons 21-24 in Journeys

After this slideshow station is completed each morning, students move to the second station:  a group led activity where students draw a card from the game bin, make the word with gems, then find and color the word on a recording sheet.  
 The activity above is from my February-March Sight Words Set
At the end of this activity, students read the words off the recording sheet to myself or my A+ tutor.  If we are not available, they may read the sheet to a student who knows all of the words.  They are allowed to stamp the paper and get a sticker from the sticker bucket after they have read the words.  

The last station they must go to is my group table, and this is during rest time every day.  We work on the letters, words and fluency sentences individually.  This must be a daily activity for it to begin to stick! We locate the letters on the alphabet chartlet, put the chartlet letters in order, write the letters, locate objects that also begin with the sounds and much more.  The set I use can be printed as chartlets that you can cut apart and bag for students to use when doing the aforementioned activities at the small group table.  

 For math counting and fluency in all four genres of the common core, we use our daily math journals.  Research proves that students must be immersed in hands on "authentic" response activities in order for learning to stick.  If they "do" they will learn! We are using numbers in the teens currently, but here are some photos of student work from last month.  Kids can make the responses their own, so this means the students are in charge of differentiation.  They can cut and glue shapes to represent groups, or dab them with paint, or draw and color...the possibilities are unlimited.  One little guy traced his hot wheel cars! 

 You can find these journals separately or as a bundled product in my store for up to 28% Wednesday and Thursday!

Good luck with the rest of your school year.  Remember to smile every day because you are the bright spot to their success in learning!
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Who Is/Was Your Teacher-SUPER-Hero? Super Hero Sale and a Freebie!

Do you remember your favorite lesson as a student in school? If not, I'll bet you can remember the teacher who made you feel like you were the most important person in the room! That teacher who constantly smiled, who talked to you with the utmost respect, who carried on real conversations with YOU that mattered, who LISTENED with full attention when you told her/him the most mundane thing? Yes, that teacher! 

My teaching super hero was not an elementary or high school teacher.  She was a junior college teacher who carried herself with dignity, confidence and style, and she made me feel I could DO everything! Never did I feel she didn't have time for me, or that what I spoke with her about was not important.  Never did I leave her classroom feeling like things were just too hard, too far out of reach.  She knew the importance of letting someone know their work mattered, and that the work would lead to real tangible goals.  She was also quick to tell you that you wore something she admired, or that you carried yourself like a professional.  Those words were so important to that young mother (me) who needed to hear them!

"When I think back on my favorite teachers, I don't remember anymore much of what they taught me, but I sure remember being excited about learning it. What has stayed with me are not the facts they imparted, but the excitement about learning they inspired."

My "Super Hero" imparted wisdom, caring and guidance that helped me to attain my goal of teaching.  This is my true calling, and through it I have been able to make a difference in young lives.  It isn't a job for the faint of heart.  There are long hours, heartbreak at times and sadness when I take a moment to think about the disrespect teachers of our nation face daily. In spite of it all,  for me, the joys of being a teacher outweigh any negatives that go with the occupation. 
I am in my 27th year of being a teacher, and have no plans to retire soon because teaching is more exciting than ever.  The icing on the cake is when an occasional visit from a former student occurs, and they tell me I was their favorite teacher because they remember that I LOVED them! Those visits reaffirm my belief that smiling every day and treating students with respect works!
Love is why great teachers teach! It's why they should teach!  Do I feel like teaching is my Super Power? Absolutely! And Lord willing, I will be able to keep doing it with passion and perseverance.  I think I will know when it's time to find another life's passion, but for now I TEACH!

I have so many great teacher-friends, and many of you who follow this blog are teachers.  In celebration of all the Super Heroes who are teachers, I am joining Teachers Pay Teachers in a sale that begins on Wednesday, February 25.  It is a great opportunity for you to purchase resources for 20% OFF, and if you use the code: HEROES, you can get up to 28% OFF.
In order to give you time to think, and decide what you need in the way of resources for the coming months or year, I am extending my sale through Thursday the 26th as well.  I have to really think about what is useful for my students, so I always need another day!  Thank you for being Super Heroes to your students every day. 


 And, on the outside chance (lol) Spring actually arrives this year...here is a cute little reader for you to download:
For other great posts about Teacher-Heroes 

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Spring in February? It sure feels like it! Sight Word Fluency First Aid FREEBIE

Wow! I could tell something was in the air when I left school on Friday.  Our kinders were very active! 
Even though spring is still a few weeks away, the end of school is looming, and that means getting these littles where they need to be by the end of the year. 
I have developed a unit for the Journeys sight words in lessons 21-24 that is really helping my little strugglers to learn each week's words.  Additional familiar word sentences help with fluency. 
 Here is how it works:
(click on the pic above to download the set for the word make)
Each week, we have five or six words.  The first thing students do is play a card game with the set of cards for the week and a recording sheet  (this sheet can be put in a dry-erase pocket for repeated use if you do not want a product for students to take home).   After students have been introduced to the week's words, I print the word building and sentence fluency pages for that week and staple them together as a booklet.  Students work on this during morning work time, or during center time.  
We read the "booklet" during small groups, then keep them in our book tubs for rereading during independent reading times.  
 The page below represents another word recognition activity from the set. 

 During the next two months, we will continue to use the activities from this set along with our sight word power point.  Students take ten minute turns with the power point chanting the words and fluency sentences.  This is our morning arrival routine until the bell rings.  Students are gaining a few words each day from this type of practice, so even small successes are great news! Have a great week!
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Sunday, February 1, 2015

It's Currently time again...What are you doing today? No snow again :(

 It's time for Currently again, and I must say I am not as chipper as I was this time last year because I was probably looking forward to a Monday Snow Day!!! This year we have missed all of the forecast chances, and I think I deserve to be a bit bummed. :) The winter days are long, and I sense a lot of restlessness in the students by Friday of each week.  They need SNOW! How has the weather been where you live? Are you ready to send it all my way, LOL! Have a great Sunday, then read posts from some of my friends to find out what they are doing.  
Be sure to go have a look and link up at Oh Boy 4th Grade!

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It's Super Sunday! Giveaway, SALE, and Currently!

Here is a quick post that may benefit someone!
First off, I decided to play a game on my Facebook page called the Super Bowl Double-or-Nothing Giveaway.  Just leave a comment naming who you think will win, Hawks or Pats.  If you are picked as the winner, and you predicted the winning team you get two prizes!
 Also, just in case you miss the giveaway, I have a 20% Off Sale today throught February 2, and here's the "kicker" (pun intended):  Select items are marked 50% Off, which means you could get another 20% off of already discounted items.  
Finally, we just can't seem to "buy" a snow day here where I live.  Last year we had several inches and missed a lot of school days.  The long winter months need a day or two of "brain vacay" just to help teachers stay fresh.  Here is as cute video of my sweet Mozart from last winter! He can really enjoy a good winter snow! 

I am going to enjoy this last day of the weekend! We have peanuts, pigs in a blanket, chips and a warm house.  What are you doing today?
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Monday, January 26, 2015

Great weather means we can learn EVERY DAY! Sight Word Memory Freebie!

(image from http://pixgood.com)
I must admit I am missing an occasional snow day this year (thus far), but am thankful for the consistent days school has been in session.  Last year was a nightmare with over 25 days missed (that was SO last year, so I have forgotten exactly how many days we missed, lol).  This year we are at maybe two days, and boy, howdy! The great attendance is paying off! My sweeties are adding like nobody's business, and we are hard at work on the next quarter's sight words.  
Last year, our team decided to divide the words into quarterly lists after one of our team suggested possibly five-seven words each week.  Since we are a Journeys 2014 school, we have refined our approach this year to include activities that go along with the word lists.  Each week, students can take a test over that week's list and any other list they may be ready for.  Of course, not all students practice at home, but this year, the majority of my students do! A big help!!! Our current quarterly list covers words from Lessons 21-25.  We are playing a lot of sight word games to keep it fun, so here is a little card printable you may want to send home.  This went home today with my students! (you will notice the words are ahead of where most of us are in our Journeys lessons, however, we have no time to spare in getting all words in by year's end) 
Just click on the pic to grab a copy! It is in black/white in order to be printer friendly.  I printed a class set on card stock and laminated them.  This set is a center now. 
   If you are needing other resources for teaching sight words you might like:
Sight Word Practice Aligned with Journeys 2014 Lessons 21-30  Sight Word Bingo "Trace and Go" Activities Aligned to Jour

 Sight Word Slideshow Aligned to Lessons 21-24 in Journeys
 Use my store's search engine and the key words "sight words" to see all of the resources related to sight words. 
Hope you are safe if you are in that winter blizzard! Our next chance is Sunday, and it's not much of a chance. :)

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Butterflies in January??? Kinesthetic Life Cycle Twist

If you teach kindergarten (or early childhood), you are 100% aware of the need for kinesthetic connections to learning EVERY day.  
This week, our Journeys 2014 lesson introduced the life cycle of a butterfly.  Several years ago, after a rousing round of 10 Monkeys in the Bed, it occurred to me that I could also teach metamorphosis through four simple body movements.  And, since we have had a butterfly theme going all week, we made our math journal pages fit into the plan as well! Here are some examples of how our week has unfolded.  
First thing each day we work in our math journals.  Today we recorded tens and ones, drew/illustrated the number with butterflies, then wrote the teens number.  Here you can see a journal page representing the number 13.  
We are currently working on writing about the butterfly life cycle, so our writing will become part of this week's study (and project display) tomorrow! I will post photos of writing this weekend.  
The fun part of our day today involved acting out the four stages of the butterfly life cycle.  
We have done this each day this week as we read and review, compare and contrast our featured books.  I can tell you unequivocally that my students prefer nonfiction selections.  We have a nice balance of fiction/nonfiction, however, I notice students attending to and participating in lessons that are based on nonfiction text.  
Each student became the egg, the caterpillar, the pupa, and finally the butterfly.  This process will be recorded on a life cycle labeling sheet too.
Kinesthetic Stages explained:
1.  egg (make yourself into a tight ball
2. caterpillar (lie on the floor and wriggle-wriggle)
3. pupa (hang on to the silk button that is attached to a twig or stem and stand very stiff)
4.  butterfly (flap your wings gently)
I will be displaying student picture collage posters alongside their writing and butterfly crafts.  Here is an example of the collage. 

 More this weekend...
  The math journal you see the students using is from my Numbers in the Teens CCSS Aligned Journal that can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  This is a separate journal, but the entire year of standards are also available as a bundle.  
Maggie's CCSS Aligned Math Journals
This set has been reviewed 77 times with a 4.0 rating.  :)
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Saturday, January 17, 2015

It's a January Bright Ideas Linky! Hard Copy Slide Shows

  Here are two very simple ideas for helping kids to practice fluency! 
First, I love all of the large Scholastic News Magazines that come with our Let's Find Out packet.  AND I love to utilize all of the predictable text in each little graphic block inside the large leaflets.  I realize there are some fabulous posters that you will not want to cut apart, so just scan the inside! I laminate all of the "pages" after cutting out all blocks, including a small student leaflet sized cover, then put the cover in the front of a binder and hole punch the pages for the book.  Voila! Instant familiar word reader! Love how these are seasonal.  They make a great addition to any library.  
 And, my next idea: 
Do you use slideshows to help teach concepts? I use them to teach alphabet (letter and sound), number identification, and sight words.  I print a hard copy of every slide and make a "manual" slideshow for students to access during center time.  They love to grab a favorite pointer and progress through their own slideshow.  Again, I put the slides back to back in sheet protectors, then put them in the binder.  I include a beginning slide for the cover insert, then put the slides in order of the slideshow. Later on, I mix the pages so students learn the words, rather than memorize the order of a listing of words.  I want to be sure they really know the words! 
 *** Updated information: When you arrange the slide pages for the sheet protectors, be sure to put them back to back with one right side up and the other upside-down (two back to back pages in one sheet protector).  This way, students can orient the binder on its side, then flip the pages with  the pages on the back always right side up! Hope this makes sense. 
Those are my tips for this month! Be sure to follow me via social media, then hop over to the other marvelous blogs featured in this linky! You will not be disappointed!

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