Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Craftiness

Only two more weeks of school until Winter Break!

On Friday, we had our monthly visit to the senior center.  Our craft was ornaments made from pony beads and pipe cleaners.  It was great to sharpen fine motor skills for the students and seniors!  The seniors thought it was very creative.  I have to thank Pinterest for this one!

Follow this pin for instructions:

I put the supplies for each student and their senior partner in a bag to pass out materials quickly.  I made some with pre-formed shapes for my younger students.  Students made candy canes, Christmas trees, wreaths, and stars.  The most creative was a student who used multiple pipe-cleaners to make a Santa face.  Of course, I was so busy helping students I didn't get a photo of the final product.

Here is what I have planned this week:
(Click images to go to the sources)

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Somehow it seems that having only 17 students makes each of their needs ever more apparent.  As I analyze the assessments of each student, I realize just how different the needs of each student are.  It is hard to group students in a way that truly benefits each student and it is impossible to work with each student one on one.
In my gut, I know that what these students need is weekly extremely targeted instruction in the skills they are lacking.  However, this is a level of intervention they will not receive until Spring (waiting on money from the state).  All of the assessment data I have collected so far indicates that these students are severely behind and may even need tier 3 intervention.  I think we could be closing the gap a lot faster if we offered more individualized interventions from the beginning of the year.

Math seems to be the most difficult for me to give intervention during instructional time.  I have been thinking a lot about why this is and it finally came to me: because students require more support with reading instructions, I am not as free to work with small groups.  Now my search begins for apps and websites that will target the math concepts they need to learn, but will also read the instructions to the student.  That will allow me to do more work with small groups.

Recently we've been working on number line skills and using skip jumps to add.  We did some whole group warm up intervention by working as a class to create a number line on the floor.  Students then took turns making jumps of 2, 5, and 10.  It was a lot of fun and great for kinesthetic learners.  It's simple, but its the most intervention I can do at this point.

I would love to hear your thoughts on interventions in math with struggling readers.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Charity in the Classroom

One great idea sparks another!  The yearbook club did a canned food drive and needed places to send the cans.  I got connected with a local mission and we've been brainstorming future charity projects for the school ever since.  It seems that the biggest needs are cans, holiday candy, and holiday cards.  Unfortunately, my class didn't collect the most cans (no pizza party for us), but I'm hoping that my students really get behind me on my candy drive.  The prize will be a pinata provided by the mission!  The winning class will also take a field trip to tour the mission.

I'm amazed how the yearbook club is setting precedents in our young school.  Because of them we will do ongoing charity work with local missions.  Oh, and they also inspired me to start a drama club!  These kids are eager for ways to spend more time at school!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monstrously Fun Alphabet App (and Bonus Spelling App!)

I was asked to review this simple alphabet app.  It looked extremely simplistic to me, but we just received iPads in the classroom and I was desperate for a way to spice up letter learning.  Some of my Kinders came in knowing fewer than 5 letters out of 52 (uppercase and lowercase).  Progress has been slow...

Now that we have iPads I can reward them with extra alphabet practice!  One lucky little guy got to be the first tester of A to Z Monsters.  He spent no more than 2 minutes on the app before there were 5 others surrounding him eagerly waiting for their turn.  I'm amazed how quickly students figure out how apps work!  Even my first graders wanted a turn at this app!  I think the app's simplicity worked to its advantage.  It was such a big hit that I even used it during transitions!  Students who lined up quickly and quietly got to press a monster and say the letter.

Here is how it works:
Select the first letter (the first time through you must go in alphabetical order). Once selected, the monster comes to life.  The goal is to squish the monster to hear the letter name.  My students loved chasing the monsters around the screen!  I found out that some of them have better hand eye coordination than others.

This app made learning letter names fun and engaging.  The animations are really cute, too.  What I love most is that it links each letter with a word.  This is really important as my letter learners are also building their reading skills.  Hopefully they will be making the transition from letter learners to beginning sound learners soon!  Get these crazy letter monsters for your students here.

And now an app that I was not asked to review...
While browsing word work apps in the App Store, I stumbled upon Spell Sam Spell.  Ironically, it is by the same app developers as A to Z Monsters!  Spell Sam Spell is like Mario Bros with a spelling focus.  My first and second graders loved controlling the little character and collecting letters to make words.  The fun never ended with new levels and quick brain break coin collections in between.  This app brought spelling to a whole new level of fun!

Now that we have the iPads, I'm sure I'll be trying out many more apps!  You can find my ever growing list of apps for the classroom on Pinterest.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What's on your wishlist?...Cyber Monday and Bonus Tuesday

Today is the day to prepare your wish list!  The TpT Cyber Sale begins tomorrow!  My store will be 20% and TpT is giving an extra 10% off when you enter the code "CYBER" at checkout.

These are the two most wishlisted resources in my store:

Here is what will be in my cart:

Addition and Subtraction Fact Strategies Combo PackLet's Go Around the World! {a whole year of social studies}Bundle 1 - Common Core Crunch September to December - ELA