Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year Odds and Ends!

Happy New Year!  I'm excited for a brand new year!

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Here are some things I've been working on and wanted to share.

Here is my new bulletin board for back to school.  It seems like a Valentine's Day bulletin board, but actually, it's going to be our new theme for the new year.

I'm teaching my kids one of my favorite little poems:
Every time we do a Random Act of Kindness or any time one of the kids does something kind or loving, we're going to remember and say this poem.  I want them to always keep it in their hearts- and years from now remember it and remember learning it in kindergarten.  That would make me happy.


Next, I made a Winter Prezi that is free now at my TpT store.  I use it a lot in the winter for those extra minutes we have in class- and for a lot of teaching.  I added a section for Groundhog Day and Valentine's Day with videos, songs, and stories for each.  I keep adding to it every time I find a good video.

We always do a lot with snowflakes- from snowflake sight words to studying snowflakes for science. I included lots of links to interesting sites that teach all about snowflakes.  It is really fascinating- and the children love learning something different like that!
I used this Prezi all the time during snack before Christmas.  I put on carols for the children as they ate or worked quietly.  It was perfect.  I love the carols that play in the fireplace.  I made a fireplace background and added a YouTube video inside to make it look like a real fireplace.

HERE is a link to my post alllllllllllllll  about snow with lots and lots of ideas and freebies, in case you missed it!

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I sort of enjoy January when we get back to school, because the rush from holiday to holiday is over. The beginning of the year goes so fast from Halloween-to Thanksgiving- to Christmas!  Plus, the beginning of kindergarten is busy with letters and sounds, letter formation, beginning writing, and classroom expectations.  By January, we settle in to some real learning.  

Our district uses Lucy Calkins for reading and writing.  We've been using the writing program for a while, but are just beginning the reading program this  year.   I just made a Super Reader Prezi (free) with the Reading Super Powers she talks about in her program.


This is part of my Beginning Reading Prezi that I use all the time.

I  don't know what I'd do with out my Reading and Writing Prezis during my teaching.  I don't have a lot of wall space for anchor charts, and after a while, the walls get so cluttered with "words" that I don't even think the children know where to look or what they are looking at!  I love to use my Smart TV as a wall chart space that I change to fit what I'm teaching.  I can show a quick video to reinforce a concept, or zoom in on one particular anchor chart and reteach those concepts,  then leave that chart up during our reading or writing time.   Here is a picture of what is on my Writing Prezi:

I keep adding to both Prezis as I find another great video or chart.  I just added more to my nonfiction section, because that's what we're working on when we go back in January.
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Finally, I love to start the year with some quick assessments using ESGI.  I  wrote earlier about how I use ESGI in the beginning of the  year.  It's a great tool to help get to know the children and have data to guide your instruction and create resources to help students both at school and at home- all on my iPad, easy to access whenever and where ever I need it- and no paper mess!  (That's key for me!)

This time of year, my favorite parts of ESGI are our sight word assessment and the ability to create flash cards for each student to reinforce the words they miss.  I keep a set of flashcards at school to use for RTI, and I send home a packet of words each week for students to practice at home.   It's so easy for me, because I just have to hit "print" and the professional looking flashcards are printed (with each child's name on top- so they don't even get mixed up!)
I can also print out a parent letter for each student which explains exactly what each child needs to work on at home.  

Our school doesn't send homework in kindergarten.  We send books to read each night, but not paper/pencil  homework.   I send the flashcards on Friday along with some games or ideas to do with the flashcards so it's fun for families.  For example, set a timer and see how many words the child can get in a set time.  Time the child to see how quickly he can read the cards, then, do this again and try to beat that time!  (They love contests!),  Keep piles of "yes" and "no" words.  See if the child can get all the words in the "yes" pile!  Hide the cards around the house and have the child find each card, then read them to you (or write them ) as she finds them.   Put one word on each stair and have the child read each stair as they climb to the top.   There are so many fun ways to play with flashcards!

My other favorite this time of  year is the name tag generator. The students are now working on first and last names, so I make several sets of names for practice. I use them for seating, but also for the children to make rainbow names, find sight words or chunks in their names, and as a matching game with pictures. 
(This is a sample of the first names on Table Name Plates.)

There are SO MANY other benefits EGSI offers.  We all need to show more and more data, it seems, and ESGI makes it so easy to do!  Not only easy- but useful!  Sometimes it seems we collect data for the sake of collecting data- but the information I collect on ESGI is what I use to guide my instruction with each individual student each day.

ESGI has a great explanatory video with all the details.  This Intro Webinar (17 minutes) is a very thorough explanation of the program.  If you want to learn more about ESGI and to get a  free trial of the software, click here.

ESGI has really changed my life in the classroom. 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. 

It has made me actually enjoy assessments now, because I know I'm not going to be wasting time. It's quick and neat. The results and data are easy to see and use, and the materials for RTI are already made for me!

So- go ahead and give it a try FREE for 60 days,

I wish you all such a beautiful, healthy, happy year!  Thank you so much for stopping by!
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