Friday, July 19, 2013

On the Road to Retelling

I'm always looking for new and interesting ways for my students to retell stories they have read. One day I saw an idea on Pinterest one day where students walked a retell road  drawn on a huge piece of butcher paper. I thought it was a neat idea for one or two kids in a large space, but for my class it just didn't work so I modified it to work for us. I drew an curvy road on a piece of chart paper and wrote the title of our shared reading book at the top. As a "we-do" the class retold the story as I drew picture clues along the road. When we finished I talked about how giving a retell is like telling someone about a walk you went on... "You wouldn't tell about each and every little rock and piece of grass you saw, you would tell about the big important things". After that several children took a turn using the chart to retell the story. I have never seen kids so eager to retell, and their retells were amazing!

 After we have done this a few times the kids will draw the pictures for our group retells and create their own retell roads for books they have read during guided reading or read to self.
Happy Retelling!

Now who forgot to bring back their guided reading book????

In the past I had the HARDEST time keeping track of who forgot to bring back their guided reading books. I tried everything... keeping lists, giving kids numbers and writing their numbers on the books, and even trusting them to tell me if they still had one at home. None of this worked, but then I had one of those Aha moments, and I felt like an idiot because it's so easy! All of the books in our book room come in plastic baggies, so whenever I send a book home with a student I simply write their name on the back of the baggie using Visa-Vis marker.

When they return the book I just wipe their name off with one of my ever present Clorox wipes.

  Now I always know who is missing which book! I can't believe I never thought of this before!

Happy Teaching!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Top Ten Terrific Teacher Apps

I don't know about you, but I'm addicted to technology in the classroom, particularly our iPad. The whole iPad thing can be a double edged sword because there are so many apps to sort through. To give you a little help in this area I give you my
Top Ten Terrific Teacher Apps
 ALL the Math Adventures Math Slide games, even the free versions have tons of levels (the upgrades have even more, enough to differentiate for EVERY kid in your class) the biggest perk is that four kids can play at once FOUR... as in a whole math group... or four kids at a math center.
Go to iTunes to download

Running Record Toolbox which was created by the much loved and admired Teacher Tipster of YouTube fame is the most amazing companion for the pencil and paper running record ever. It calculates everything!! The creator says it best in his YouTube video so I'll let him speak for himself!

Bits Board is an amazing literacy/vocabulary/language learning app. It has boards that teach almost any subject. I even use it to practice my Spanish. My struggling kiddos love the success they find with this app. Go to iTunes to download

4. Montessori Crossword is a great literacy app for pre-k and primary kiddos!
It helps kids learn to read and spell decodable words in a extremely engaging way. When they get a word right they're rewarded with an almost mesmerizing visual feature.
Go to iTunes to download

5. Number five is Face Talker, not to be confused with Face Talk. This is the app we use to create and upload and upload videos of our writing to YouTube. It does have a creepy moving mouth feature, but we just move the mouth out of the way to make it work for us!
Follow the link to check it out

6.  Qrafter

is my QR code app, every teacher needs a QR code app, I use mine to create codes that link to our YouTube channel, and create self checking task cards for Daily Five, and Math Workshop. You can also create codes that link to safe private pages where you can post pictures of kids for parents only access. To begin "Qrafting" download the app

7. Spelling city is an amazing website, and now it's an amazing app where students can practice
spelling and vocabulary in fun and engaging ways. There are tons of lists for offline use, but you can also create an account and login to access even more great features.  To start the fun download now

8. My kiddos would put Word Wonderland in their top 5, and yours probably will too. This app makes phonics fun and has several levels which makes differentiating easy.
Check it out here

9. Coming in at number nine is a whole family of apps called Alligator apps.
These apps contain a fun new spin on old school flash cards that can quiz your kids when you can't. They can review all kinds of flash cards as many times as they need to in order to learn them! Get their apps here

 10. Number 10 is just for fun... it makes me laugh!
Mibblio lets you pick one free interactive song book where you can read, sing, and play along with songs like On Top of Spaghetti and Monster Mashed Potatoes. There more books available, and it is just plain fun. I bet it will make you laugh too so give it a look

Happy "apping"

All trademarks are the property of their respective owners, and no copyright infringement is intended. Images are shown only as a means to direct new customers towards said products.

Going BIG... also known as publishing to YouTube

 In the high tech world we live in there are so many opportunities for our students to get their writing out there for the world to enjoy. One way that my students and I love to do this is by publishing our writing to YouTube. We have done this a couple of ways, and both work great! First we published our animal reports by paring a voiceover of students reading their report with a photograph of the students chosen animal.

 It turned out great and you can find them here 1st Grade Animal Reports
During summer school we studied poetry, and I photographed their writing and illustrations before adding a voice over of them reading their poetry.

Which you can check out here Safari Poetry
Knowing that they get to publish to the web... and not just to the hallway has really been a great incentive for my little monkeys to finish up those final copies!
We created these videos using a free app from iTunes called face talker. It looks like this
 and you can click on the following link to download it from iTunes. It does have a creepy moving mouth feature, but we just pull the mouth down and out of they way to make it work for us! I also post our writing in the hallway, along with a QR code that takes people directly to our playlist!
Happy Publishing!!!

Feelings Band-Aids (and a freebie)

We all know that kids can be mean, but they need to learn early on that sorry doesn't always make up for what they have done to another child. With that in mind I created feelings Band-Aids. Whenever a child in my classroom hurts the feelings of another child they have to draw a Band-Aid from our jar and do whatever it says for or with the person that was wronged. The tasks are simple things that really help the wronged child to feel better, or build a more positive relationship between the two students.

I cut out and laminated each Band-Aid for durability, and after they read the Band-Aid students put it back in the jar.
Here is a link to the free printable version Feelings Band- Aids Enjoy!!

The Wonder of Dry Erase Crayons

Dry erase crayons are one of my favorite things in the world... no really I LOVE them! You or your students can write on any hard surface with them and it wipes right off with a disinfecting wipe! Check out all the things we write on...
File cabinets, I hated the wasted space so my kiddos create sentences during work on writing (part of daily 5) with sight word magnets and the dry erase crayon (note that she is writing about how much fun SUMMER SCHOOL is).

We also write on our desks... word wall words...vocabulary sentences... personal narratives... anything you can write on paper you can write on your desk!
 The best part is you clean off the germs right along with the crayon! I also have my kiddos write on my rainbow table during guided reading.

They write down predictions, questions, or words then need help with, and when it's time for the next group I just wipe it all away.

You can find these treasures at Amazon, Target, and probably many other places too!

A Plan for Planning (and a freebie)

We all know that sick to your stomach feeling that comes when you realize that none of your students really did any planning when they completed their writing prompt... don't we!? Particularly in the primary grades planning can be hard for kids and teachers alike. How should my students plan you wonder... drawing... graphic organizer... list??? The choices seem endless. As I struggled with this question the little wheels in my brain started to turn, what if I could create a quick, simple way for my primary students to plan that they wouldn't forget, and could be reproduced quickly. After much thought I came up with this simple format that my students could fill out anytime they are asked to produce a piece of writing.
T- Topic
Now the question was how to get them to remember and implement it??? The answer my friends is ..
The Planning Song
(Sing to the tune C is for cookie)
 T is for topic tells readers what they’ll see
      T is for topic tells readers what they’ll see
      T is for topic tells readers what they’ll see
     Oh topic tells the reader what they’ll see
 D is for details you must have four or more
 D is for details you must have four or more
 D is for details you must have four or more
Oh Details details details four or more
    C is for closure let’s wrap it up my friends
    C is for closure let’s wrap it up my friends
    C is for closure let’s wrap it up my friends
    Oh closure closure closure at the end

© Copyright Amy Clink 2013
*May be reproduced by teachers for classroom use

My kiddos love to sing this song every time we need to plan a new piece of writing, we even made up our own hand motions to go along with it. I have never seen such successful planers in a primary classroom before, and as a bonus this plan is supper easy to differentiate with. My higher writers often add more details, or make each letter into two sentences instead on one when drafting. Every one of my students has been successful using this form of planning. Please follow this link The Planning Song to get your  freebie and comment about how it works in your classroom!
Happy Teaching!