Saturday, June 30, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

Oh my, Jill from Tales from Second was so kind to nominate me for the One Lovely Blog Award.  Thank you so much.  You are too sweet to take the time to do that!   Everyone, please go and visit her wonderful blog.  She has so many great ideas.

The Rules of Acceptance:
  • Thank the person/people who nominated you and link back to them in your post.
  • Share seven possibly unknown things about yourself.
  • Nominate fifteen or so bloggers you admire.
  • Contact the chosen bloggers to let them know and link back to them.

The Seven Things:
  1. I am a drama nerd.  I actually came within two classes in college from graduating with my degree in theatre.  I wanted to teach theatre before I got side tracked in life.  Thus the reason I dress up for class as often as possible!
  2. I make polymer clay jewelry.  I love to do that and have even been on a Carol Duvall Crafting Cruise. 
  3. I can't spell well.  I was raised in Georgia and moved a lot when I was little.  I talked funny and always missed the spelling program when I moved, everyone had a different way to teach it.  So I started spelling things the way I pronounced them, and the Southern Accent DID NOT HELP!  It was really a problem when I moved to New York!
  4. I am addicted to two shows, So You Think You Can Dance and Preppers.  I know, don't try to figure me out.
  5. I want to chase a tornado for my 50th birthday and I have actually "chased" a hurricane before.  I am a weather junkie.  If I could not be a teacher then I would want to be a meteorologist!
  6. I can tap dance and do a little clogging (the Georgia thing again).
  7. I love all things ocean, pirates and water related.  Period.  I even dress up for Pirate Days and made my own pirate coat and costume.  I know, I am wierd!

I don't think I have 15 bloggers, but I do have a few.  They are:

Owl Things First
Smedley's Smorgasboard
The Daily Cupcake
Treasures for Teaching
Can Do Kinders

Thank you again Jill.  That was so thoughful and made my day!

In Pictures and In Words Book Study Chapter Severn

Link to Book Study In Pictures and In Words Chapter Seven
I can’t rave enough about how much I have learned from this book study.  I love reading what is in the book, but even more I love reading what everyone else has to say.  Thank you all for sharing.  I have noticed that some people are sharing books for each technique and that is really branching out my “library” of books to use this year so I will do the same.

Onto the techniques:

1.     Crafting with Distance Perspective – “Distance perspective is something children can easily try in their own illustrating.”  Use words like PANORAMA, CLOSE-UP, ZOOM, and PERSPECTIVE. 

Eggbert the Slightly Cracked Egg - From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 2-The other eggs in the refrigerator admire Eggbert's remarkable paintings-until they discover that he has a slight crack. Because of his defect, he is banished from his home. At first he uses his artistic talent to attempt to camouflage himself, but his disguises are quickly discovered. Then he realizes that the world contains many lovely cracks. Brush in hand, he travels the globe and produces wonderful paintings of fissures found in things such as volcanoes and the Liberty Bell. Back at the refrigerator, his former friends ponder his hand-painted postcards with amazement and a touch of sadness. The story might be read as a commentary on the lives of artists and/or the dangers and blessings of nonconformity; however, young readers will be more engaged by the illustrations than by philosophical reflections. Eggs and vegetables rarely assume such lifelike expressions and stances, and the simple text and clear design add up to read-aloud potential. Eggbert is an egg worth watching.
Kathy Piehl, Mankato State University, MN

I wish I could have shown more pictures from inside.  The perspective in these illustrations is wonderful!  From inside the refrigerator to him painting volcanoes you get to see the world both small and large!  If you go to Amazon you can see some of the illustrations, but I highly recommend you go to the library and check out the book yourself.  My copy is in storage or else I would have taken pictures for you.  I still felt it was worth talking about in this section without having all of the pictures to show you.  Sorry!

2.                    Crafting with Positioning Perspective – “Illustrations have positioning perspective; a central image may be pictured from the front, the back, the side, above, or below.  The illustrator is in charge of how the reader sees the scene.  He or she decides what to picture in the picture, and also where the reader will be positioned to the view that picture.”  Use words like:  ANGLE, FRONT, BACK, SIDE, ABOVE, BELOW.

We all know this is one of my favorite books for perspective!  David Wiesner does a fantastic job taking the reader INTO the story in his illustrations.  Another must check out book for teaching this technique and many of the others in Chapter 7.

3.                    Crafting the Background – “The central image in an illustration may have lots of background behind it, just a little, or hardly any at all”.

This is a very powerful book I use during Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday on my unit of peace, slavery and tolerance.  Yes, I am the teacher that got permission to show ROOTS and staged a school wide March against Drugs and Violence in an inner city school complete with the DARE officer dressed as Dr. King.  We read I Have A Dream and sang peace protest songs.  This is a powerful book that takes kids into a world of a young girl that picks cotton with her family.  The pictures, the background take you there and set a mode that shows how early in the day her work starts.  You must look into this book.

4.                    Showing Two Sides of a Physical Space – “An illustration may show two sides of a physical space simultaneously: inside and outside, above and below”.

Okay, nothing is coming to mind for me on this one so I would love some suggestions!

5.                    Using Scenes to Show Different Actions – “Small, separate scenes show different actions.”

I love this set of books.  The children love them too.  We usually make soup during this unit (great way to get them to eat vegetables).  I liked the way the illustrator used scenes to show different actions (see carrot above) and I had never noticed that before doing this book study.  I really missed a lot by not reading this book earlier!

6.                   Using Scenes to Capture the Passage of Time - “Small, separate scenes can capture what happens over time”. 

Again, my books are in storage so I can’t show you inside of this book, but we used this in December, this version and the kids fell in love.  They did reader’s theater with it too.  Inside it has a great page that shows the little old lady and little old man, using scenes, making the gingerbread boy.  The children would act it out in dramatic play.  I will be using this again this winter but I will concentrate on making this part of their writing as well!

7.    Using Scenes to Show Movement Through Different Places- “Small separate scenes can show movement through different places.

I am weak here and need some suggestions!

8.    Using Scenes as a List – “Small, separate scenes may work like a list, showing lots of different detail but unconnected by any background”. 

I am weak here and need some suggestions!


9.    Showing, Not Telling -  “The text tells something general, the illustrations (often a series of small, separate scenes) show something very specific.”

I love this story for comparing and contrasting against the traditional Three Little Pigs.  And I am a drama nerd so I love to act it out too!  The illustrations in this kill me too.  There is a picture of the mixing bowl the wolf is using to make a birthday cake for his grandmother.  If you look closely at the illustration you see bunny ears in the mix.  This really tells the reader that he is making a very WOLFISH birthday cake and helps the reader understand that this is not the typical birthday cake we think of when we read the words BIRTHDAY CAKE.  The illustrations really show us what the wolf is not telling us in the picture!  The illustrations are critical though out the book in helping the reader understand what the character is not telling us in word.

10.  Crafting a “Backstory” – “Illustrations may have characters and/or action that are never mentioned in the words.

The Little House in the Prairie Books are great for this!  The kids in my class, after reading several of these books, wanted to turn the dramatic play area into a cabin.  This had so much to do with the illustrations and the backstory they created.  We had plastic fruits and veggies hanging over the kitchen area like they were illustrated in the books.  I had to say no to hanging meat (like in the attic for winter storage in the books) when the kids suggested that!  We did make corn husk dolls and needle point and quilts.  All things they saw in the illustrations in these books.  Very powerful!

11.  Manipulating Point of View for Effect – “The content of an illustration may directly contradict what the words say, usually for humorous effect.”

I am not sure this book really contradicts what the words say, but the illustrations do a great job manipulating point of view for effect.  I love the farmer standing outside of the barn listening after you just saw what the animals were doing inside the barn. 

12.  Seeing Through the Eyes of a Narrator – “Illustrations may show the perspective of the narrator, so we actually see things through his or her eyes.”

There is a great picture in this book when the little boy hears the doorbell ring and he looks through the peep hole and you see exactly what he sees, the little bit of the pirates beard and mouth.  It is awesome and you really feel like you are looking through that peep hole!

Phew, this was a long post to do but it was really helpful to me.  I am sorry I didn’t have my books available to give more detailed pictures but I hope some of the books I recommended will be helpful!  I can’t wait to read everyone’s posts!  Feel free to follow me and I will follow you so I can see what you say in the next part of this book study!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study Chapter 3

1.     Establish a gathering place for brain and body breaks. (Do you call your gathering place anything special? 

I never really called it anything special.  I used the one carpet we had in the room for so many different things I never thought about giving it a name.  I will think about that now for this upcoming school year though.  I can’t wait to see what some other people call it.

2.    Developing the concept of "good fit" books. 

I can see this is where I have more to learn than to offer anyone.  I have worked with Pre-K for the past 5 years and before that special education Resource Room so I never had a group of kiddos that could read or read at approximately the same level (as a Resource Room teacher I had kiddos K-6th).  I have been thinking a lot about finding good fit books and I have been searching garage sales and on-line teacher sites grabbing up everything I can!

3.     Create anchor charts with students How will these be visual in the room? Where will you store them? What about small spaces?  
 Funny thing about this.  I train adults in early childhood and as an adult trainer I used anchor charts, I just didn’t know that they were called that.  I am struggling trying to figure out how to display these in the room this year.  My mentor teacher keeps them all together on an easel as she creates them so she can refer back to them all year.  The kids can go through and find the one they need.  I like that idea, but I would like to have them in a really big stable book type things.  Maybe I will take cardboard and fashion my own book that is free standing to store them in so the kids can always have access to them.  As an adult trainer I used a lot of books about Mind Mapping and Visual Thinking.  As soon as I read this Chapter I knew I had to dig them out.  I highly recommend anyone using anchor charts get these.  They will also help the children in visually capturing their thoughts before they can write.  I am also doing the In Pictures and In Words book study and will be sharing this there as well.  Do check out these books.  I really think you will love them.  I need to practice drawing with these again.  They make it so easy!

4.    Short, repeated intervals of independent practice and setting up book boxes (How are you going to keep track of stamina? What will you use for book boxes? What are you going to put in those book boxes on the 1st day of school?)

  I am frankly going to steal all of the good ideas that are being posted by you wonderful people to set up my book boxes.  I have several old book shelves that I am painting black and I bought tons of plastic bins at the dollar stores to use to separate my books and activities for each of the Daily 5 stations.  What am I going to put in these boxes the first day of school?  Lots of alphabet stuff to see which kiddos recognize the letters and can make the sounds.  I will have tons of books on tape/CD to listen to for them as well.  Keeping track of stamina will be tricky at first, but I love the idea of the class setting a goal and keeping a timer on the Smart Board so they can see how long they have gone.  There is a Smart Board program I believe that has a runner on it showing how long they have read.  I am still stalking blogs and pinterest boards looking for more ideas.

5.    Calm Signals and check in procedures (Do you already have a signal? How will you handle check ins?) 
I have always done a song (such as, come on over, come on over, come on over, it’s time for morning meeting……………..I need to see your eyes……….it’s time to come to the carpet).  I love the idea of a wind chime or some other musical instrument to use as a signal.  I am searching garage sales now to find the perfect thing!

6.    Using the correct model/incorrect model approach for demonstrating appropriate behaviors. (Will you keep track of inappropriate behaviors? If they are not doing what is expected, then they are calling out for attention...what other ways can you give them some extra atention so that they can be more independent during D5?) 
 I really don’t like to give a lot of attention to negative behavior.  I love the role playing of positive and negative behaviors as a class.  I am a big believer of giving children sensory input to help them with wiggly bodies.  I don’t mind gum chewing for my more oral kiddos (I know, I am weird).  I keep lots of fidget toys for large group time.  I put smelly stuff into my play dough to keep more than one sense engaged at a time.  I let them write in glitter pens, I let them pick the music to have on in the background (usually they can pick from a composer we have studied or a genre we have explored).  I just think the more senses that can be engaged during an activity the less likely negative behaviors will occur.  I also schedule a sitting activity immediately followed by a whole body activity.  Sometimes I think we set the behaviors off by forgetting how long they can actually attend to a single activity.  Really, if I had to sit all day long and listen to someone talk at me I would act out too!  Now you know why I teach young children.  I am so much like them!

Well that is it for me.  I hope you will follow my blog so I can find you.  I can't wait to read what everyone has to say about this chapter.  And again, special thanks to Live, Love, Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten for hosting this awesome study!  You Rock!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Freebie for the Facebook Party

Here is my freebie.  Just click on the pictures or go to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to get it.  Enjoy.  You can change the words on any of the slides so the rules fit your classroom needs.  Please take the time to follow me if you don't mind.  I love linking up with all of the awesome teachers out there.

Facebook Party!


This very evening, some teacher/ blogger friends and myself are having a facebook posting party! Stop by the Elementary Matters facebook page, and discover some great teacher bloggers and score some free resources.  I will see you there!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

In Pictures and In Words first six chapters book study

Go to this link at Mrs. Willis Kindergarten to join the book study!

My Thoughts on the First Six Chapters:

How might you explain to students that illustrating is composing?
I think children know that they tell stories though their pictures.  Just ask any kiddo who has drawn something that you can’t make heads or tails of and they can tell you all about it.  And if you every guess what it is WRONG, watch out because they will look at you like you are the dumbest grown up ever for not being able to see what they see in their drawing.  Teaching them to add words to their drawings is just the next natural step in their love of “drawing”. 
How might your attitude towards writing affect your students’ willingness to write?
While reading the first six chapters I was struck by how the author related her apprehensions about writing to children’s apprehension about writing.  I know I have wanted to write a book, but have always been stopped by my fear of the blank page, of how to organize my thoughts and how to choose the right words.  I forgot that children feel the same way.  If I am apprehensive about writing/spelling (I am not the best speller in the world) then I must be subconsciously relaying that attitude to the children.  Maybe this year during writing workshop I will work on writing my book.  That might be a great way to work on my stamina and encourage the children and lead by example.
How might you help students build stamina in their writing?
I believe encouraging children to work on illustrations will help build their stamina.  Children are inherently drawn to drawing, even the youngest children I have worked with.  Also, I am building my library of books of great illustrators, and I know this will help children have more focus when writing/illustrating.  It is easier to write for longer when you have a focus.  Most of us learn through copying someone else's style.  Having the opportunity to practice lots of different styles helps the child develop their own.  It kind of goes back to the “blank page” syndrome.  Having something to model from gives a direction and direction leads to longer time spent on a project.  This builds stamina and having many new styles to explore leads to the children developing their own style of illustrating and writing.
What language might you use with your students talk about reading like a writer, both as a writer of words and pictures?
I am not sure about what language to use (thus one of the reasons I wanted to join this book study).  I do know I am starting to study the illustrator’s and research their blogs and websites.  I want the children to be able to do this type of research as well.  I think a lot of rich language and vocabulary expansion will come out of this study.

Name several books (not previously mentioned in this text) you would gather for your classroom’s units of study on illustration.
My boyfriend’s son is a librarian in Richmond Virginia.  He was telling me about this great book with an awesome illustrator. 


From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Kindergarten-Grade 4–A wave deposits an old-fashioned contraption at the feet of an inquisitive young beachcomber. Its a Melville underwater camera, and the excited boy quickly develops the film he finds inside. The photos are amazing: a windup fish, with intricate gears and screwed-on panels, appears in a school with its living counterparts; a fully inflated puffer, outfitted as a hot-air balloon, sails above the water; miniature green aliens kowtow to dour-faced sea horses; and more. The last print depicts a girl, holding a photo of a boy, and so on. As the images become smaller, the protagonist views them through his magnifying glass and then his microscope. The chain of children continues back through time, ending with a sepia image of a turn-of-the-20th-century boy waving from a beach. After photographing himself holding the print, the youngster tosses the camera back into the ocean, where it makes its way to its next recipient. This wordless books vivid watercolor paintings have a crisp realism that anchors the elements of fantasy. Shifting perspectives, from close-ups to landscape views, and a layout incorporating broad spreads and boxed sequences, add drama and motion to the storytelling and echo the photographic theme. Filled with inventive details and delightful twists, each snapshot is a tale waiting to be told. Pair this visual adventure with Wiesners other works, Chris Van Allsburgs titles, or Barbara Lehmans The Red Book (Houghton, 2004) for a mind-bending journey of imagination.–Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The illustrator is David Wiesner and this is the link to his website. 

This is the link to the website about his book Flotsam. 

I will be using this illustrator as our first illustrator study this fall.  I am beginning the year with an ocean theme and this book will go a long way toward introducing different ways of illustrating a story.  Just look at these illustrations!  After reading the first six chapters of In Pictures and In Words  I became so excited to look at this book again.  I started looking at all of my books in my children's library in a different way.  Let me share some of the illustrations with you.

So many great tiles.  Love how the story is illustrated in sections.  I never would have noticed this if I hadn't joined this book study!

Look at the eyeball.  What great perspective!

Look at the point of view on this picture!  It makes me feel like I am actually in the ocean looking up into the sky!

The book and the illustrations will lead us into using a camera to document the school (I will be teaching Kindergarten this fall so they have lots of places around the school to discover).  Hopefully this will help them become better observers by focusing on the school through the eyes of the camera lens and it will also show me how they see the world around them.  I have done this before and you can go to this link to see how my Pre-K kids used a camera to document the world around them.
A Winter Walk  here are a few pictures from that post that the children took with the camera on the walk.  They later used the pictures in a class book and to reference when doing journal writing!

Here is a link to another blog post that shows the kiddos drawing/illustrating from real life when we hatched chicks!

Talk about stamina!  These three to five year old students spent up to fourty minutes drawing the chickens!  We did this on multiple days and made a class book  out of the drawings.

This shows children at different stages of writing.  I had a three to five mixed age mixed ability classroom.  I love this picture!

This child is starting to use letters to record thoughts.

Showing off their drawing to the subjects!

I really enjoyed the first part of the book study and I am really looking forward to the rest of it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Daily Five chapter one

1. How do I teach new behaviors?

Children learn best through imitation and repetition.  So I do all of the behaviors I want the children to have all the time.  And I repeat.  And repeat.  And then repeat some more.  Some children are visual learners so I have lots of picture cues.  Some of auditory learners so we read the classroom rules and other important information out loud every day until the new behavior is integrated into the daily routine.  And for the whole body l learners, we role play and act out desired behaviors.

2. How do I teach expectations?

See above!  And I think it is very important to let your students know what your expectations are upfront, before you start anything new.  Most children want to please you, period.  I believe that.  They will do what they THINK you want them to do if you do not TELL them what your expectations are.  Sometimes what they think and what you want are two very different things!  Communication is key here, and I think they can also tell you what their expectations of you as a teacher are.  This is great practice on teaching about expectations and what it means to meet, exceed or not meet expectations.

3. How do I monitor student behavior? whole group? small groups? individual?

I monitor by using all five senses.  It is funny when they kids actually think I do have “eyes in the back of my head”.  I had a child look for them once.  When things are too loud, or too quiet I know something is going on.  It may be great learning, sometimes that is loud, sometimes it is quiet.  It may be great mischief happening.  Any extreme in noise, activity or movement usually is an indicator that I have not set clear expectations.  The students, as the school year progresses, learn to monitor their own behaviors.  This goes back to them understanding, practicing and modeling safe, kind and responsible behaviors.

4. What do I do when a student is not exhibiting desired behavior?

I have a “What’s my problem” book that has pictures and ways of solving problems in it.  The children will conference with each other to try to solve problems.  If they can’t do it alone they learn to ask a teacher to help them.  Again, I use lots of picture cues!  That really helps those with language issue or learning delays.  I also model having a temper tantrum, being mad and sad and have the children help me learn how to deal with those feelings.  And sometimes, the kiddo just needs food, sleep or to be left alone.  I think sometimes we forget kids are people just like us, and sometimes we just have “off” days, or something significant is going on in life that we don’t know about, or they are hungry, thirsty or just plain tired.

5. Whose classroom is it?

I am a lot like a parent on this issue.  Just like with my own kids (wonderful college kids that they are), this is MY HOUSE (or classroom).  I pay for it, supply it and lose sleep over making sure it is a safe happy place to be.  BUT…… we all live here and we are all responsible for making it a great place to spend time in.  We all are a critical piece of the family in the classroom and we all have our roles and responsibilities to make it a happy home.  We all have ownership, although it is my ultimate responsibility as the adult to set the tone for safety, learning and emotional health for all who spend time there.

6. Locus of control?

I want a pay check for doing my job.  My job is to teach.  The children’s job is to learn and I am sure they want something for doing their job.  What that is changes from student to student.  It may be helping to choose the themes.  It may be earning something extra like an ice cream party.  I believe children should  be intrinsically motivated to learn, but I also believe success should be celebrated and I have nothing against celebrating!

7. Where are supplies stored?
Right now everything is at home because the new classrooms don’t have any flooring yet!  But during the school year almost everything is out for the kids according to the theme (I like to change stuff around and not everything I have would fit in the classroom!).  Learning through play is each students job when they are in my classroom, and they all need different materials to learn, so I try to keep as much out and in their reach as possible without overwhelming them.

The Daily Five book study

Make sure you go to Kindergarten Smiles blog to see lots of other responses!

1.      Do you trust your students? How do you build this trust? Are you able to trust them and allow them to be independent throughout all aspects of your day? Are you going to be able to stay out of their way?  Yes I trust my student’s.  No matter where they are in their development I trust them to learn, to try and to make progress.  I build that trust by giving them choices, letting them explore, asking them what they want to learn about and developing materials and lessons that honor them as individuals and as a group.  I trust them to be independent and the amount of time I trust them grows as they do.  When I listen to them, get to know them and honor their ideas and interests then they are able to be independent for longer periods of time.  Remember, I have been teaching Pre-K and this fall I am going to Kindergarten so I have to keep in mind what is developmentally appropriate for them during the school year.  Can I stay out of their way?  Most of the time, but I have had to develop this skill!  It took a lot for me to “let go” of the kiddos and let them develop and grow WITHOUT me telling them how to solve every problem and make every decision for them.  And you know what, something amazing happened.  They started solving problems, making decisions and becoming more responsible for their own behavior and learning.  I wish I would have learned this earlier in my teaching career.
2.      How much choice do you give your students throughout the day? (would love for you to share some examples!) Do you go over your daily schedule with your students or is it just 'posted' in the room?  By October the kiddos are able to have many more choices during the day than at the beginning of the school year.  Learning about their interests helps me develop activities for literacy and math that make sure their choices will help them reach their educational goals.  At first I go over their daily schedule every day.  After a while, they know they what comes next and like the routine.  Many times if they are engaged in a particular activity or something happens (like snow, or rain, or a guest) that warrants a “teachable moment” then we can throw the schedule out the window!  Learning is the main goal and that over rides everything else.

3.      How are you going to create that sense of community where students will hold each other accountable?  At the beginning of the year I have each child create an All About Me book at home.  During the first few weeks of school they bring in their books to share with the class.  They stay at school the whole year.  They share their books with each other during Read To A Buddy time and at morning meeting.  They love learning about each other, sharing their books and reading.  I have had children be out sick for a long time and the children will go to their friends book and remember their friend by reading their book.  I have also had a child move and they chose to leave their book behind.  This really helped the other kids remember their friend and deal with “losing” their friend.  By sharing their books, they find commonalities with each other and this build community.  We also use the Be Safe, Be Kind and Be Responsible format to guide our daily thoughts and actions.  This builds a safe, kind and respectful community that they love!  They respect and care for each other and their classroom.  Here is the link to this free set at Teachers Pay Teachers 

4.      How do you establish urgency?  Again, I go back to my responsibility to get to know the children and their interests in order to create learning environments that they are URGENT to explore.  I also dress up to support units (Cat in the Hat, pirate, on and on).  They are wild to learn when I do silly things like that!  I also like to invite their families to come in and share customs, culture and to act as readers.  This creates wonderful urgency for the children because they have ownership of the events and teachers.

5.      Stamina! How are you going to build stamina with reading? independent work? Will you use a timer? Will you set goals?  This is a new concept for me.  I have never really thought about stamina before.  I know that I helped the children create it by offering long term reading, writing and project based approach learning activities.  You can go to my classroom blog at to see lots of long term lessons that required the students to use stamina.  I hope you will visit and write me back on your thoughts and ideas on how I can build stamina with my students this fall.