Friday, March 4, 2016

Five for Friday March 4

I'm linking up with Kacey for her wonderful Five for Friday.  Thank you, Kacey!
Here we go!

Here is another one of my bulletin boards.  I love this saying.  And... how simple is it?!

Here is a fun activity from Dr. Jean (Or Dr. Jean-yus... if you will...)

It's so easy and so beneficial for the children.   Everyone chose a favorite color paper- (or white).  I showed them how to first fold a "hotdog fold" (the long way), and then a "hamburger fold" (the short way).  When they opened the paper, they put a number in each section:  1,2,3,4. 

Then, we basically had a spelling test.  I said a sight word, and they had to decide if it had 1,2,3, or 4 letters in the word, and then write the word in the correct box.  Ta-da!  

I heard the kids quietly spelling the word after I said it and counting the letters as they spelled it. It was fabulous!  They did great spelling the words, too.  It seemed like when they were focused on thinking how many letters the word had, they were more free to know they could spell it correctly. 

We'll be doing this a lot more for great practice. 

I also love her idea  of using this for math! You could turn it over and do math on the back.  Once the children fold the paper, they can show four ways to make a number- the numeral, tally marks, ten frame, dots, set of objects, number facts...

The best part is that it takes zero preparation.  Just grab some paper and pencils if you have a few extra minutes, and you're good to go!

These are the types of ideas we have in our books Dr. Jean's Reading Recipes and Dr. Jean's Math Recipes.  They are ideas we use all the time that work, are fun, and are easy to prepare and use!

PreK Bundle (2016)
This week I sent home my version of our writing celebrations.  Our school uses Lucy Calkins for writing.  Part of her program involves writing celebrations  in the classroom.  I  choose not to invite parents in for writing celebrations for several reasons. I don't want parents comparing the students' writing in my class.  Parents don't know the struggles some of the children have had to get where they are- and they don't see the growth that the children have made who came into my class knowing NOTHING- and can now get sentences down on paper.  Their writing may not be as "pretty" as some of my other students' books, but to me, they are masterpieces. I don't want the child or the parents to feel they are anything less.

I don't want parents to feel competition about their children's writing.  That isn't ever the point.  Each child is special, individual, and is developing at his/her own perfect pace.  My job is to keep parents informed about their own child's progress. I know for me, if I went to a celebrations for my daughters at that age, I'd see series of their books written.  My son, however, didn't love writing.  He always did great in school, but writing wasn't a strength, and I would have compared his writing to others in the class. I know I would have.  And instead of praising his accomplishments, I think inside I'd feel he needed to do more.  I don't ever want that for my parents.

We celebrate in the classroom, and the children do such a kind, sweet job encouraging and supporting each other as we share our completed stories.  The kids actually seem to be very in tune with which children have worked hard to get where they've gotten because it doesn't come as easily to them.   They are so precious as they praise each others' stories, neat printing, and illustrations.  I love these moments.  Our classroom celebrations are informal and happen when I see we are all at a great point to share.

I can tell you that my heart sings the loudest when my little strugglers write a front and back page paper, fairly neatly, with spaces and sight words spelled correctly.  I love the beautiful books my higher students create, too, of course.  Those are the ones we show to prove the kids can write, but actually, I  think lots of those students would be writing pretty nicely just by picking up what we do in our interactive writing.  They don't need a lot of individual work at this point.  Of course they could write more sentences, explain thoughts deeper, or add more details.  But they're five.  They are doing great with quick conferences and pointers.  I know how much of my time, patience, and teaching went into the having those other students complete a writing assignment and smile because they know it's good.  Those are the celebrations I collect.

ANYWAY, I decided each family needed a celebration this week, so I copied a sample or two of our beginning writing from September and November, and then one from last week.  I stapled them together with a little celebration paper on top and sent them home.

Here are some of my masterpieces!

The first sample is from November.  The second is from this week or last week.  The most recent writing for a couple of them is about a chameleon, because we read lots of books about chameleons this week...  and because that's such an easy word to spell... :) HA!

      I want to be blue cause it is my favorite color.

      I like black because it is camouflage in the night.

Here is my celebration cover if you'd like a copy to use for your class.  Just click the picture.

Here is a simpler half-sheet copy.  
Here is a quick writing assessment I did this week.  We do a writing assessment at the beginning of the year for different genres, and then again at the end of the year- to save.  BUT, meanwhile, I like to see exactly what areas I need to focus on with each student. 

We are working on Opinion Writing now.  During one of our Writer's Workshop times, we brainstormed reasons why we liked summer and why we liked winter. Then, for writing, I spread the kids out all over the room and gave them this prompt:  What season do you like better- summer or winter?  And why?  Give me 3 reasons. 

They wrote for about 20 minutes all by themselves with no help at all from me.  

During lunch, it took about 10 minutes to check each of my student's writing for different skills I wanted to see if they had taken on independently.  It was SO TELLING for me.  I loved it. Here is my high-tech data...

Some of my higher writers did it all.  They really have taken on a lot. 

Some of my higher writers have taken  on a lot of the foundational skills, but didn't really answer my question and didn't give me three reasons.  This was interesting to see.

Some of my struggling writers would not let themselves be done until they came up with three reasons.  I loved that.  They really worked hard to answer my question.  This little one could not write more than a squiggle in September.  He would not leave the table until he came up with "build an igloo" WHICH he spelled all by himself! YAY!

And as always, I was just amazed by all of them when I think where they started.  These two didn't know any letters or sounds when they started school this year.  I am so proud of them.

I love how he came up with 3 reasons!  I was thrilled with this.  

I just wanted to share this idea in case you want some "data" of your own for writing.

While we're talking about assessments, last week, I began to assess my students for our 30 week report cards. Instead of having to set aside hours of assessment time, I was able to call my kids over during any extra moments I have during the day, and assess them right on my iPad. ESGI is easy, paper and mess FREE, and fun for the kids.  I have the data handy to use at home or at school because it's right online - all organized, and never lost or misplaced!

Look at ESGI bringing the country together!  Can you believe it?!  I KNOW!!!

ESGI provides so many great assessments- or you can easily make your own to fit exactly what you need.  

One of my other favorite parts of ESGI is the time-saving extras it provides for teachers.  This time of year, I print out sight word flashcards to send home with my students each week if they still need help reading and writing them.  I keep one set at school to use for RTI when I have a few minutes or if I have another adult available to work with a student.  The kids can even work with each other with the flashcards! Here is a sample of flashcards for one of my students.

ESGI provides parent letters that you can print, with exactly what areas need to be worked on at home! Talk about a time saver! Here is a sample parent letter for the Letter ID assessment.

You can also edit the letter to parents.
As the year goes on, there are more and more benefits of ESGI.  If you want to learn more about ESGI and to get a free 60 day trial of the software, click here and try it out for yourself! Our district bought the subscription for our grade level.  It's so easy to show your administrator the benefits of ESGI.  We are encouraged to use more and more technology, so this fits perfectly into that, too.

I posted ALL about the benefits, bells and whistles,  and some examples of what ESGI offers HERE.  If you like using it and want to purchase the program, you can use my special PROMO CODE B1119 and receive $40 off your purchase for the first year. The price is usually $199 a year, but with the promo code, it will be $159 for the first year. Check with your administration because they may be able to purchase it for you. They can use the code and get it for $159 for the first year, too.  It's a great time of the year to try it out!

So, just remember- everyone loves ESGI.  There is no debate about it! 

Thank you for stopping by!  Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Great ideas! I love ESGI too! Our district bought it for us this year, and we are using it as our Kindergarten report cards. We just print out the parent letter and send it home in the report card envelope! (I also send the flashcards home.) Such a great resource and it has saved us hours of time since we're not having to transfer testing data onto separate report cards.

    Megan @

  2. Love the bulletin board saying! It works so well! Pin! And I saw your four part paper idea on Jean's post. Using it next week- always good to remember stuff like simple folding of paper... so many ideas, so little time... See ya, Kathleen

  3. I love ESGI, too!! I was able to make my own list using the Fry words . It is so simple and provides wonderful information at the click of a hand. Love looking at your writing samples! Have a great weekend!! Linda Groce- Linda's Learning Loot


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