Super Improver Door

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A couple years ago I read up on whole brain teaching and using a super improvers wall display in the classroom. I attempted to do it in the general education classroom that I co-taught in but it didn’t go as well as planned. So instead of starting this whole group I chose to start it in with my small group of IEP students in my resource office that I use to teach small groups.

This year I went for a chalkboard type theme for the wall. I bought some scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby and lined the back of my door before I put the Super Improvers’ Wall up.  I put each kids’ name up in the same color as the content area.  Underneath their names I write I can…. and leave enough space so that after they are laminated we can write and change out goals as needed. Next to each child’s name I put a circle that represents the color they are on on the Super Improver’s Wall. On that circle I write what that child can do at this time.

Let me just say this has been the ONE thing that my kids look at after each time we progress monitor (every 2 weeks). Their goal is to reach pink (Master). At the beginning of the year we set mostly year-long goals. For most of my kids learning the letters in the alphabet is a huge struggle. We are in April and I have kids that still don’t know all the letters.

I have a Literacy side and a Math side to my wall. As a team the student and myself choose one goal from each area. I have some students who are on writing IEPs and not Reading IEPs (that’s why I put Literacy, it covers it all!). To the left of my door I have student graphs that they color in to correspond to the color they are on the wall. This provides a visual for them to see where they are at and how far they have come!

When they reach pink I told them they can have whatever kind of treat they wanted since they worked so hard. I don’t let them choose goals that will be easily met within a month or two. I try to aim for long-term goals.  So far McDonald’s has been a favorite choice. (Come spring time and it seems I am venturing out more often because kids are meeting their goals, I love it!).

Rainbow Words- Learning our Sight Words


It is the time of the year where we really start to learn our sight words. For my students, this is a very hard thing to do. Most of my IEP students have not mastered letter identification and letter sounds yet. Even though they do not know all the letters and sounds that does not mean that I am not going to teach sight words. For instance, all my students know the word the but they may not know that the letters are t-h-e.

I base my sight words off of a few things. One place we get our sight words is through FAST. On top of FAST we also have a list of 50 Kindergarten sight words and when they are in first grade they work on Bedrock Sightwords. So, I took from all of them and came up with our 60 sightwords that I want them to know/be exposed to by the end of the year. We call these our Rainbow Words. You can choose any set of words to use and determine how many will be in each color depending on your group.

I post these on my whiteboard. I debated whether or not to show this two ways. The first way, which I decided on using, was to have all the words up on the whiteboard from the beginning. This way they can see them when they are reading and writing and use it as a resource. The second way I thought about using the rainbow words was to have the outline with dry erase marker on the board already and then put up the words that all the kids were proficient in to grow our rainbow and watch our learning progress. Since I have a small number of students the second way would work for me. I ultimately decided on using them the first way I described because I teach 5 different small groups a day and each group is at their own place with learning sight words. I would have to constantly change the board between groups and that is just not possible some days (ok most days).

I introduce 5 new words a week and test sight words every other school week (according to IEPs). I found something online years ago that I try to follow when teaching sight words. It was called sight word soup. First, introduce the word in isolation and then by the end of the week they are reading and writing the words in context. This is how my overall week looks like with sight words. I aim to make these activities take about 5 minutes.

Monday- Introduce 5 new words (try not to make them to similar so they are not confused). First we look at each word individually and look for any known parts/sounds. We spell the word and use some sort of manipulative to create each word (play dough, salt, rainbow writing, wikki stix, etc…). I then write them in a little book (mini composition books) for my students to practice throughout the week.

Tuesday- We play a sight word game like Go Fish, Memory, Guess the Word (like hangman). I use all of the weekly words and then some past words that students may not be solid in yet.

Wednesday- I use sentence strips to write a sentence using each of our weekly words. I try to incorporate words that they have already learned so they are not spending the entire time trying to decode other words.

Thursday- As a group we create our own sentences using each word. We then use interactive writing to write our sentences together, highlighting our weekly words.

Friday- I have the kids write their own sentences using the weekly words.

 

In addition to this we practice reading all the rainbow words that we have learned at the beginning of group.

Below is how I keep track of student data. Each student has a rainbow that they get to color when they know the sight word. I put a library pocket in the center and created a little brag tag for each group of colored rainbow words that they receive when they know all the sight words in that color block. This helps me see which word they are still struggling with and which ines they know. 

1st day of school chalkboard

The beginning of a new school year is fast approaching and for some it has already started. I have been teaching summer school this summer so I am kind of ready to start the new school year.

Below are the canvases I made for the kids last year. I’m not sure if I will be using these again this year or the one I purchased from the Target Dollar Spot earlier this summer.

I bought a 2 pack of canvases at Hobby Lobby and painted them with chalkboard paint. Then I took chalk markers and wrote their name, First day of _______, the date, and age.

In the small hard to read on here print I wrote the name of the school, teacher, favorite song, what they want to be when they grow up, favorite food and I love to…

I can’t wait to see what their answers to these questions will be this year!

 

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ABC End of the Year Countdown

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I can’t believe the school year is almost over! I don’t know about your class but ours is getting chattier (is that even a word?!?!) by the day. To try and make the last month exciting and try to curb behavior I decided to create an ABC Countdown to the end of the school year.

I got the inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram but put my own spin on it. Most of the countdowns I have seen on Pinterest and Instagram have been the balloon popping countdowns, you know the ones where you pop a balloon each day with a different activity. Well, this year, we have a couple students who are really bothered by loud sounds and the popping of balloons would be too much for them to handle.

A few years ago I was on our schools PBIS committee and was one of the people in charge of the staff fun day that we hold for our professional development usually in February. That year we did a version of Let’s make a deal using a punch out board.

Instead of popping balloons each day I created our own punch board for the 26 days of school. I was so excited to get it started that I forgot to take a picture of it before we started using it. Truth be told, Sunday afternoon I thought about doing this countdown and then counted on my phone how many days left with kids and low and behold it was 26. Talk about a late night on Sunday! By the time I went to Dollar Tree is was 6:55 and the store closes at 7 on Sundays, who knew?!?! Needless to say I was able to quickly get the supplies on my list and get out of there without any additional items (which is normally not what happens when I go to Dollar Tree).

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How I made the punch out box: I got the general instructions on how to make this from Pink and Green Mama who found it from : Celebrate the Big and Small. Actually I just read the instructions from Celebrate the Big and Small and I probably should have created mine like that, seems so much easier. BUT when do I do things the easy way? I cut off the side of a box (Walmart that had been shipped from my mom at one time) and laid out my cups how I wanted them on top. I traced the cup lids and then cut out each circle trying to cut just a smidge smaller than the circle I traced. After trial and error with wrapping the gift wrap around my hideous looking brown box I found the best way to decorate it was to cut the holes first and then wrap one side with wrapping paper. I then turned the box over and cut a t in the middle of the holes and folded the wrapping paper up around the holes and taped it down. (Right now I really wish I took pictures while I was doing this) Then I took tissue paper and taped it down one color per row. My 6 year old wrote out some of the reward slips and I glued the cup down over the correct hold, don’t forget to add the slip of paper with the reward, A is for Art, etc… Each day I pick a different student to “punch” a hole out. We do our reward time at the end of the day after specials and then I have them punch out the next days activities before they leave so they can get excited for tomorrow.

I also sent home a note to the parents explaining what we were doing. Here is the note and you should hopefully be able to edit it (I admit I’m not very good at attaching things that can be edited so sorry in advance!) end of year abc countdown If for some reason you can’t get it to work give me your email address and I will send it to you.

I am absent minded and forgot to take pictures of the kids completing their A is for Art Mother Day gifts so here is a picture of the final product:

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Here are some pictures from B is for Bubbles. We created tennis rackets with plates and craft sticks and kept them up in the air. At the end we went outside and popped them. Don’t worry I gave them each a balloon to take home, not inflated of course!

 

 

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Snowman Candy Jar- Craft Day #1

Each month I have a girls day with two of my really good friends from way back in high school. We rotate through the months taking turns on choosing our activity/outing. In November (yes, I’m really late at posting this) we had a craft day. On my list of crafts was an ornament wreath, snowman candy jar and a canvas included lights. I will let you know all 3 crafts are complete and this is just my blog for the one, the others are coming. I will also let you know that it took longer than just the couple hours at my friends house to complete even one of these crafts!

Craft #1- Snowman Candy Jar

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For Valentine’s day last year my daughter made her teachers each a Candy Jar. I never got around to making one for myself and my classroom so I thought making a snowman candy jar would be a great idea.

Materials Needed:

Clay pot- any size will work but I like the medium size ones for these

Clay pot coaster/lid- Choose the size that will fit best with the size of your pot and candy dish

Candy dish- I got mine from Dollar Tree for $1. Just make sure it sits right on the bottom of the clay pot.

White acrylic paint

Black buttons

Black sharpie marker

Orange Sharpie marker

Pom-poms

Pipe cleaner

hot glue

Paint brushes

Instructions:

Paint 2-3 coats of white paint on the pot and lid (enough so that the clay doesn’t show through)

After the paint is dry hot glue 3 black buttons on the base of the pot (remember that the wide opening is what is down on the table)

Hot glue glass candy jar to the narrow base of the clay pot

While that is drying hot glue the pipe cleaner (I had to cut mine down to size) to the lid. Hot glue a pom pom on the end of the pipe cleaner to create the ear muffs.

After everything is dry, draw the face directly on the glass.

Fill with candy and enjoy.

We made two of these, one for myself at work and one as a Christmas present to my daughter’s kindergarten teacher.

 

Gingerbread Man in Disguise

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The week before Christmas break we usually always do the Gingerbread Man. This week I wanted to incorporate something fun into the mini unit. Usually during reading rotations I take just my IEP students for our CIM group lesson. This week I decided to shorten up my groups and take everyone in the class during their word work rotation.

We talked about the different versions of the Gingerbread Man including the Gingerbread Baby and The Gingerbread Girl. We determined that the common theme of all the stories was that the gingerbread did not want to be eaten.

Through group discussions we talked about the different things we might do if we were the Gingerbread Man, Baby or Girl. I introduced the vocabulary term disguise and we talked about some disguises the Gingerbread Man might have so that no one would want to eat him. We researched different disguises online. I did this so the students wouldn’t all have the same looking disguises.

Then came the fun. I gave each child a blank Gingerbread and together we came up with a disguise. I helped by cutting and tracing stuff out (the students told me exactly how they wanted theirs to look). I also had them finish the sentence frame I am not a Gingerbread Man I am a….

Here are the finished products that I hung up on my door and hallway for everyone to see. All I could hear anytime any students were walking down the hall was Oooh, I see Batman. There’s Elsa and so on.

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Next year I think I might send this home as a family project to see what other fun disguises we might have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parent gifts for Christmas- Mod Podge Tile Coasters

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Three years ago for Christmas (when my youngest was born in 2012) I had a great idea to make handprint and footprint tiles as Christmas presents for the grandparents. Well, I did one complete set for myself (daughter hands and a fingerprint flower and my son’s 2 1/2 month old feet). I went out and bought a ton of tiles to do this project. When all was said and done with the project I ended up having a complete set for myself and that was it. Life with a newborn and 2 1/2 year old must have been a little crazy at that time 🙂

Fast forward to December 2015 and I am finally getting a chance to really go through some things (mainly because I was looking for my passport since I am going to the Dominican Republic in January) and I come across a Menard’s bag full of ceramic tiles. The light bulb went off then on what I was going to make my kiddos at school for their Christmas present. I remembered seeing an awesome craft on Pinterest where you Mod Podge a picture to a coaster.

So I made a quick little sign that said Kindergarten 2015-2016 and had each student come up and stand in front of the door and I snapped a picture of them. I immediately sent them to Walgreens (using a 40% off coupon) and ended up only paying around 4 dollars for my entire group. After counting the tiles I had lying around at home I only needed 11 more and went to Menards, which had them on sale for 10 cents a piece. I ended up spending around $5 total to make our whole class set of tiles.

I cut the pictures out into 4×4 squares and applied mod podge to the back of the picture and stuck it on the tile. After it was dry I added a layer of Mod Podge on top of the picture and coaster to set it.

I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do with them. I could put the felt on the back and have them use them as coasters but I thought to myself, If I were receiving this gift from my child would I want to use it as a coaster? The answer was NO. So, I took to Pinterest and found these super easy and cute easels made out of popsicle sticks. I used hot glue instead of craft glue because that is what I had.

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When I handed them out the parents who were at our party absolutely loved them.

 

 

If I were a Pilgrim on the Mayflower I would bring…

This week we have been learning about the Mayflower and what it was like. To end our week we made these cute little pilgrims. I used the small paper plates and had them paint them. While they were drying we made the hats with buckle. After the paint was dry I had the kids draw on faces. We then hung them up along with all of our other Thanksgiving themed activities.

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Clothesline matching activity

clotheslinenumbermatch1 I can’t remember where I first saw this activity at, somewhere on Pinterest I’m sure. Out of different colored construction paper I made 20 shirts and 20 jeans. Each shirt had a different amount of dots from 1-20 on them. I think I used the eraser of a pencil and dipped it into black ink. On the jeans I wrote out the numbers 1-20 (1,2,3,4, etc…). From one end of my bookshelf to the other I hung yarn. I tied it around a command strip hook so that it was easy to take off and put back up again when we needed it. The students would match the dots to the written numeral and hang them together on the clothesline. It was an easy activity for them to do independently and I was able to check their work very quickly since I made them put them up in order. (At the beginning of the year I just had them match them not in order since that was a difficult concept for them still). clotheslinenumbermatchDon’t mind the junk on the bottom shelf!

Kindergarten here we come class book

20131112-060310.jpgAt the beginning of the year we really focus on names. For this activity I cut up the letters in each students’ name and had them put it back together and glue it on the page. Then they had to dictate what they like to do to me and I wrote it on the blank space on the page.

20131112-060328.jpgAfter the students had completed putting their names together and drawing pictures of what they liked to do we hung them on a bulletin board in the classroom for everyone to see. After I took them off the bulletin board we made it into a classbook and put it in the classroom library.

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