Back to School Book Favorite! FREEBIE!

One of the first books I read to my class at the beginning of the year is No, David! by David Shannon. We are a PBIS school & focus on positive...believe it or not, No, David! fits right in!
After reading the book, we talk about being positive...about the problems David had & what we could say to David that he COULD do in our classroom.

Each kiddo writes & illustrates a page for our first class book: Yes, David! It's a great way to kind of peer teach & reinforce expectations: "Yes, David! You can walk in the hallway!" "Yes, David! You can raise your hand when you have a question!" It's always fun to read what they write about!

Just click on the pic to the right to download the writing paper from my dropbox. I hope your kiddos enjoy working on their own class book! 

Getting Ready for Kindergarten with Learning Resources

We're having fun this summer with what I'm calling "Piper & Catey School". Can you believe these two little darlings will be starting Kindergarten this fall?! Boy, time flies!

I'd already been planning our little Piper & Catey School when Learning Resources asked me if I'd like to check out one of their new "All Ready for _____" Kits. I love Learning Resources products & quality, so I jumped at the opportunity. We were so excited when the box arrived (can you tell from the picture?).

They've been having tons of fun with everything that's packed into this Readiness Kit...& there's A LOT packed into it! In addition to the Readiness Kit, we also got the correlating game, Picnic Party.
The girls are having so much fun, which makes my heart smile because I know that that's a fundamental step toward learning.

Of course, even though fun is important, you've got to have a solid base in foundational concepts and skills....and those are packed in here, too! (Which also makes my heart smile....because I want these girls to be ready for Kindergarten!) Check this out:

The activities support both Language & Math development, & I like that there are three levels for each activity, so you can move kiddos into the concept gradually....
Ready - a friendly little intro to the concept. If ready is too easy, move on the the next level. Ready seems a little too hard? Let your kiddos play with the materials awhile longer.
Set - move on to this step when your child is solid with the Ready level.
Go! - these activities are just a little more challenging than the Set level.

Here are some of my girls' favorite activities...
Picnic Party - One-to-one Correspondence, Counting, Greater Than/Less Than
My girls love this game! I love the math skills that they're acquiring! Check out all of those math skills that they're working on!

Pile of Leaves, Critter Pile Up, Measure Up!
Red Rover, Line Up!, Buggy Battle
More/Less, Beginning Measurement, Fine Motor Skills
Is it just me, or do kiddos come to you with lower & lower levels of fine motor skills? I really like how Learning Resources has built some fine motor skill practice into many of the activities in this pack. Kiddos have to use the Gator Grabber (otherwise known as fun gator-shaped tweezers) to pick up & move the bugs.

Line Up was a challenge....they had 10 seconds to move a group of matching-color critters to a leaf. Stressful! (not really --- but when you're under the clock.....) The we counted & talked about which leaf had more/less. You know, I'm a I already think that way (poor kiddos! haha). Parents will love that directions are laid out explicitly: not just how to play, but also suggestions for conversations.

Shape Up!, Building Bugs, Home Run
Okay --- I'll admit my math teacher heart LOVES how this activity supports the mathematical process standard (I can see how numbers and shapes go together). It's also one of my girls' favorites because, lets. admit it....who doesn't love playing with & manipulating shapes? 
Match Game, Dancing with Letters, Lace-in-Line
There are many more language supporting activities in the kit, but my girls' favorites were any of the ones that used the lacing letters. There's just something fun about manipulating those colorful little letters. And when you get to string them? That's almost like making jewelry! haha

I'm loving how playing these fun activities are getting my girls ready for Kindergarten! Guess what.....Learning Resources has even more kits! If you've got littles, Learning Resources has a Readiness Kit that'll work for may want to take a look at the Ready for Preschool or the Ready for First Grade Kits. 

Periscope! In the Classroom!

Have you heard the buzz about Periscope? It has just blown up in the teaching & blogging world world the last few weeks. If you haven't heard, Periscope is an app that streams live video. It's connected to Twitter, so if you're already on Twitter, you'll be able to feed your live video directly through Twitter. You also can broadcast and view live videos just on Periscope. My sweet friends Angie & Ashley have great blog posts about how to get started on Periscope and 25 Periscope Must Knows. Make sure you follow them both...they'll be posting lots more great content & tutorials about the app.

Periscope has proven to be a powerful tool: it's been a terrific way for teachers to connect, collaborate, & network. It's a wonderful way for us to be able to share in real time how to do something, specific tips or ideas. I feel like it's almost a way to get some fantastic PD! Just a few hours ago, Hope King (Elementary Shenanigans) was sharing how she uses music to engage students. In real time, peeps! How cool is that!?

Even cOOler?! Periscope is going to be just as powerful, if not more, in the classroom! I'd already taken note of how Kayla Delzer over at Top Dog Teaching has her kiddos tweeting on their class Twitter account. Love it! Periscope is going to make tweeting even more amazing! If you have any more ideas to add to this list, please let me know in the comments!

Before we dive into the awesome-ness of using Periscope in the classroom, let's talk about safety & privacy. If you've been on Periscope, you know we've had to block commenters a few times. Yeah...that cannot happen in our classrooms. We can still use the app in the classroom with a few safeguards:

        • Set up a seperate account just for your classroom
        • ONLY allow parents to follow
        • Turn off the location when you broadcast
        • ONLY allow comments from followers

1. Broadcast Games/Activities from the Classroom
How cool is this? "Today, we're playing a game called Mama Mia. We've been learning about equivalent fractions.....this is a great way for us to practice". Or just record their conversation as they work on a task. Imagine parents being able to take a peek into what their child is doing in the classroom via Periscope! Amazing...right?

2. Broadcast Presentations

A little caveat here -- I am not completely comfortable with kiddos broadcasting their faces....but you can broadcast a lovely presentation just by focusing on the artifacts being used: posters, models, manipulatives, etc. Even without faces, still a powerful way to both let kiddos share their learning & offer parents a glimpse into the classroom!

3. Broadcast Performances

Easy to get around the no faces issue with this one...most performances either require or use MASKS! Boom. Done. And think how dynamic this app is going to be for parents! An easy download on their smart phones & they'll be able to watch readers' theatres and plays right from their phones. Video stays live on Periscope for 24 hours, so parents can view broadcasts as they have time.

4. Create a Gallery

Working on a special art project? Kiddos can set up a gallery & broadcast live. In my classroom, we do lots of 'museum' type projects where kiddos set up displays & we invite other classrooms in. With Periscope, we can also broadcast our museum! Think about the speaking & listening skills we'll be developing & polishing!

5. Virtual Visits

Speaking of many times have you thought to yourself, "I'd love if my kids could see this?" Maybe you were at an event in your community, or a museum in the next town, or even just speaking to someone who has information you'd love your kiddos to hear. As long as you're going to be with your class in the next 24 hours, you can broadcast your visit or your conversation & then view it with your kiddos. Powerful? Yes!

6. Help with Homework

Record yourself running through an especially difficult problem, or perhaps even just explaining the assignment. Or better yet....have your kiddos record them! Families will be able to access the help over the next 24 hours. (No more "I didn't know what I was supposed to do"). My classroom is about 50% ESL...often, parents aren't able to help with reading the directions. A quick view of the broadcast should be enough for the child to remember what the task is supposed to be.

7. Conduct a Survey

LOVE this real life application for math! You know those assignments in math in which kiddos are supposed to ask others in the classroom their favorite snack or favorite animal? How super awesome would it be to have your kiddos Periscope the survey out? And parents (or even grandparents) can respond?! Wow. I can't even imagine how motivating that would be! They could even broadcast the data after it's all compiled! Personally, I can't wait to do this one!

8. Deliver the News

Got news to share? Event coming up? Need to send out a reminder for something to be turned in? Kiddos can deliver the news! Imagine how excited your kiddos will be to deliver their own newscast?! That's some real world writing application right there, peeps! Not only that....excellent speaking & listening skill building opps, too! (Pssst! Again - this is easy to accomplish without kiddos having to record faces...signs & pics will work perfectly!)

Interested in more ways to use Periscope in the classroom? Make sure you're following me (@fradyb1).....there are more to come! 
Enjoy this bright idea? Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, too for more great ideas!
For more bright ideas from other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting! 

Daily 5- What Do I Need to Get Started?

Welcome to Chapter 4! Are you loving Daily 5 so far? Ready to give it a try in your classroom, but wondering what you need to get it all started? Well this chapter is for you!

It's surprisingly simple. (I say that because I previously thought I would need to revamp the whole way I was doing things, but that's not so!) Here's what you need:

Quiet Signal - Chimes
In the last chapter, we talked about how a quiet signal is less obtrusive that a loud timer going off, or yelling loudly telling your kiddos it's time to move to the meeting area. Here's another reason for using a quiet signal: let's save our voices for instruction rather than management.

Chart Rack/Interactive Whiteboard
Covered...right? We're going to need a place to create those I-charts of expected behaviors. Done.

Tools, Not Toys
In other words: fidgets. Some kiddos are going to need extra support to build their stamina. That's where the tools, not toys come in. I bet you're already thinking of some of the things you can use for those tools. In fact, I bet you have some in your classroom or even at home:
  • Sand timers
  • Pattern blocks
  • Legos
  • Stopwatches for older kiddos
  • I Spy books, or World Record books
Book Boxes
Kiddos are going to need a place to house their books so the books are at their disposal. Each of your kiddos will need her own box. A note about the beginning of the year: take some time before the first day to fill book boxes (or bags) with a variety of books. During that important training time at the beginning, kiddos are going to need enough books to keep them engaged.

A Gathering Place & Focus Lessons
The most important components. You're going to need a space in your room large enough for your entire class to gather on the floor. Not a person who like to teach with your kiddos pulled into a meeting area? There are very good reasons to teach whole group in a meeting area:

  1. takes care of behavior management with proximity
  2. enhance deeper thinking with accountable talk with partners
  3. eliminate distractions (what's in my desk?)
I-Charts are an important part of Teaching & Learning Independence. You know those I-Charts you create when you teach the expectations for each of the tasks? You're going to need to keep those posted in the room. That's something that I need to work hard at. I tend to not want to keep them up all year. But kiddos (& teachers) need to be able to refer to that visible learning. "Disposing of it would [be] throwing away a connection to prior thinking and learning." Yikes! I've really got to fight the urge to take them down & replace with something else. I'll need to think where we can post all of the charts will be making!

Classroom Design
Does my classroom need a special design to be able to do D5? Not really...but there are some things to think about when designing your room. You'll want functional spaces for kiddos to do the work that's part of D5: spaces for Read to Self, Read to Someone, Work on Writing, Word Work. Desks & chairs aren't always the best places to do that work. Do you have spaces planned where kiddos can work on the floor, while standing, comfy chairs or even a love seat? How about area rugs for sprawling? Make certain you are planning different types of work areas for all the important work that's going to be happening in your classroom!

I'd love to help you get started with some of the things you'll be needing to launch D5 in your classroom! How about a fab prize pack filled with goodies?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shark Week! Let's Hop!

It's SharkWeek! One of the most interesting weeks of the year..right? 
I always think to myself, "It's too bad Shark Week doesn't happen during the school year." Imagine how engaged kiddos would be during that week.....we could do shark everything! Of course, we won't let the fact that Shark Week happens in the summer stop us from engaging our kiddos with
awesome shark-themed activities, will we?

I've been working on some writing tasks for my kiddos over the summer. One of the skills we really tried to hit hard was citing evidence from the text in written responses. I've discovered that with practice, they were awesome at locating the evidence...but when it came to using that evidence within a written response, that was a different story. 

This activity guides my primary kiddos through the process. They highlight evidence, then use that evidence to write a response to a question. I've built in supports with sentence starters so that they can learn/practice the framework of a good response. I'm really excited about the difference this will make for my kiddos written text responses, & I hope you enjoy using this in your classroom, too! Just click the image to grab your copy. 
Make sure you click on the button below to head on over to Crayonbox Learning & snag another shark-tastic freebie!

Classroom Improvements #2getherwearebetter

I've been thinking about the tweaks I want to do in my classroom since the last couple weeks of school. I'm excited to be joining with my sweet friends Angie & Ashley for the month's #2getherwearbetter. I'm really looking forward to reading about everyone's ideas for improving their really get some great ideas that way! Here's what I've been thinking....

#1 Move Completely to Daily 5
You've probably already heard me say my school sent me to a D5 training with The Sisters in April & I fell in LOVE! Seriously...came back & started putting it into action the next day! I'm really looking forward to starting it up right from the beginning of the year! For anyone thinking about looking into really is what we're already doing...just put into a framework that makes everything easier. I'm hosting a book study on the 2nd edition. Click the link to check it out a little closer. I promise you'll
love the framework!

#2 Daily 3 Math
Starting out with Daily 3 Math, too! I'm a HUGE fan of Guided Math & I don't think I'll ever stray
from that because it works so well for kiddos...but the structure of Daily 3 works so well as the management piece for the workstations kiddos are doing while I'm with a small group. It really takes away the need for figuring out who's going where when, creating rotation charts, & all of that. It just makes sense & streamlines all of that. I actually do more like a Daily 4. The Sisters' Daily 3 consists of Math by Myself, Math with a Partner, & Math Writing. I'm also adding Math with a Group. I'm also a firm believer in the power of games in instruction, so we'll be keeping that important part of our math instruction.

#3 Tweaking my Color Scheme
Love my Dots on Turquiose, but I'm ready for a a bit of change. You can see in the picture about that I currently pair the Paisley Border with Stitches & Stripes. Luckily, Creative Teaching Press has developed a wide range of products that all interchange & coordinate with each other, so tweaking it is easy! It all had to come down for some construction that's going on in my room, so it's a perfect time to change it up. I'm just adding a hint of lime green & keeping my paisley. Here's what's going up in the room...Playful Paisley & HexaFun Lime Green Mini Hexagons Border.

#5 New Room Design
Jury's still out on this one, but I have a blank slate to work with! I had to go in last week to pick up a book & I took a panoramic of my room as it looks currently....ScArY!
 Everything had to be taken out of my room for the construction, & there will be some small changes (a portion of the wall will be gone, old HVAC unit removed, & built-in shelves in its place). I'm not sure where I'm going to put everything yet, but I've got some great ideas! Stay tuned!

I'm off to check out what everyone else is working on tweaking for next year. Love gathering ideas!

10 Steps to Teaching & Learning Independence

Hello again, brain! Brain research is fascinating, isn't it? Michael Grinder's research showed us that "the brain receives input through three different memory systems: visual, auditory, & kinesthetic (1995). When information is stored in more than one of these systems, the memory is improved." That's the key to teaching independence...activate multiple systems. The question do we do that? it is:

Identify What's Going to be Taught
People are more likely to access & retain information when the goals for learning are clear.  Creating I Charts is an easy way to do this! (I charts are just T charts in which the T is turned into an I) In D5, we identify what's being taught by writing it at the top of the I Chart.

Set a Purpose/Create a Sense of Urgency
Admit it -- when you're sitting in a training (or even contemplating going)-- are you thinking, "What's in it for me?" Sure...we all do. And that includes kiddos! Setting a purpose & a sense of urgency for learning in your classroom create a culture in which learning & practicing counts. How do you create that in your classroom? It's surprisingly easy! We talk about why we're doing an activity & affirm how it's going to help us become better readers (or writers). That is our ultimate goal, after all! In our classroom, we refer to those goals constantly!

Record Desired Behaviors on an I Chart
Here's an area where I may have failed in the past....I've always let the kiddos help brainstorm the list of what we should hear & see hear during our work time. How about you? The problem with this is we sometimes get a little off-track (you know how those conversations can go.."one time...."), & they end up adding some things I don't necessarily need on there. Take the guess work out of it! Tell kiddos explicitly what the expectations are & list them on the I-chart.

A word about wording...Be careful to word your expectations positively. If you're a PBIS school like we are, you probably already do this naturally. Instead of "Don't walk around", "Stay in one spot." Takes the guess work out of it....kiddos know exactly what is expected, which sets them up for success.

Model Most-Desirable Behaviors
After creating your I-Chart, call a few kiddos up in turn to model the expected behaviors. Going back to that brain research, "Michael Grinder points out that the visual input of seeing correct behaviors modelsd for the whole class and the kinesthetic input for those doing the modeling is the beginning of the process of creating children's muscle memories." Follow the modeling up by asking, "If Billy Bob does these things, will it help him become a better reader (or writer)?"

Model Least-Desirable Behaviors Then Most-Desirable Again
Model Least-Desirable?! Yes! There is power in non-examples. And consider this....when you follow up the non-example with the question, "If Billy Bob does these things, will it help him become a better reader (or writer)?", your kiddos are going to answer with a resounding "NO!". That's a powerful way to get kiddos to think about & realize that their behavior affects their success. And how specific behaviors negatively impact their success.

Do make sure to follow up those non-examples with examples of most-desirable behaviors, though! Remember that we are working towards building that muscle memory...don't let it end with the least-desirable behavior in their muscle memory!

Place Students Around the Room
Psst! Here's the secret to the success of placing kiddos around the room to practice reading in a spot the first time:

  1. Place them in groups rather than one-by-one
  2. Leave the group of kiddos with the least amount of stamina for last 
Practice & Build Stamina
Be prepared....all practice sessions are going to be short. When kiddos break stamina- stop. It's important not to let them (any one of them) practice incorrectly! Create a large graph on which you can track your kiddos' progress with building stamina. This provides a great visual of the progress & a reminder of your goal. 

Of course, you've got to teach your kiddos what stamina is, why we need to increase it, & what the benefit is for us. Of course, to get better at anything, we need to practice. A basketball player plays basketball as much as she can....a mountain biker rides bikes as much as he can...a reader reads as much as he can. I always tell my kiddos my brother's story. He grew up right in the same town they are, went to our same school (in other words - just like them). He decided he wanted to be a mountain he rode his bike as much & as often as he could....& worked to build his stamina. He did become a pretty awesome mountain bike rider. (That really IS my brother in the poster!). Please click the pic to grab a FREEBIE copy (there's also a less ink-intensive poster in the link).

I put that in caps because that may be the biggest mistake we all make. Here's the scenario: kiddos are practicing...all quietly reading around the room......& here goes the teacher, buzzing around the room whispering at kiddos all the way. "Good job", "Keep it up", "Way to go", "Excellent"! Then what happens the first time we want to pull a small group? It all falls apart. That's because, with all of our buzzing around the room, we've taught them to need that extrinsic motivation we've been providing. It's hard...I know. But it really does make a world of difference!

Use a Quiet Signal to Call Kiddos to the Meeting Area
I think it's fairly well known that The Sisters recommend the use of chimes for calling kiddos. Why such a soft sound? We're going to call kiddos when we see that stamina has been exhausted. That's typically going to be your barometer sweetie. "The interruption of a loud voice can easily trigger an escalation of the entire room's noise level..."(& nobody wants that!). "[U]se the power of a calm & respectful signal". It's a pleasant sound & sets the tone for the next activity. 

Group Check-In "How Did It Go?"
Ask kiddos for a quick self-reflection. We refer to the I-Chart , ask the question, & kiddos hold up the number of fingers to indicate how they thought they did. We use the same system described in the book:
  1. Below Standard
  2. Approaching
  3. Meeting
  4. Exceeding
I am LOVING this book! And I'm so glad so many people are joining's great to read other perspectives & ideas. I'd love to hear YOURS, too! Please comment below or link up!