Saturday, August 29, 2015

Literacy Centers & Guided Reading!

Dollar Tree and Target are my best friends for school items! 

I'm so excited I found Elmer's paint pens on clearance for 98 cents a piece at Target. So, I bought every color. I use these to write their names on the desks instead of using name tags that are ruined after a month of school. The paint pens come off easily with Lysol and last all year long!

Center and Guided Reading BASKETS!

I have to have an organizational system for
 everything! Since I have 4 guided reading groups, I use colored bins from the Dollar Tree to make things easier on everyone. Sometimes I change the colored bins but here is what I'm using this year:
Panthers --> Red bin
Bulldogs--> Orange bin
Sharks--> Green bin
Eagles--> Blue bin

These colorful bins help the students know where they can find books at THEIR LEVEL. Each guided reading group has a specific color. When I call each group, I use one set of these bins to hold their guided reading materials and books at my table. I use a second set of these bins (on the other side of the room) for their center books. This system is so helpful because it allows me to differentiate centers and gives the students practice at their level without interrupting me during guided reading. 

Center Rotation Schedule 

I use a PowerPoint slide, that I update weekly, to help students see what center they should be working on for that day. The first few weeks it displays the students who are in each group until they remember their group name. Monday through Friday each group is assigned ONE CENTER EACH DAY. I color code the 4 groups so the students know which part of the chart belongs to them. For the leveled readers center, I use the same colors as their guided reading bins!

Here are typical weekly centers:
  1. Computer (Pearson)
  2. Word Work (Spelling)
  3. Vocabulary NB (Reading Words)
  4. Writing (Journal and other)
  5. Leveled Readers (Reading Street)
On the computer, I can assign activities from Pearson, a program we use to access their reading textbook and other resources. Word work is a front and back word sort page that goes along with their weekly spelling words from Pearson. Vocabulary notebook is where they write down the definitions and examples of their reading vocabulary. They need to practice using the glossary to find the definitions and then think of a creative sentence to use the vocabulary word. Writing is usually a journal prompt that I give them. They write down the prompt and answer it in their center notebook. Example Prompt: If you were the teacher, how would you run your classroom? Be specific and provide examples. The writing center can also be more time to work on their writing from classwork. Leveled readers are mini books that go along with the Reading Street series we use. I have readers for ELL, concept, below, on, and above level. All I would do is select the appropriate level that would go with that group and put a set of books in their COLORED center bins. 

Guided Reading Schedule 

I only have one hour of guided reading/centers allotted in my schedule. So each group would only have 15 minutes if I called all the groups daily. I try to call my below and medium level groups daily. And my high group a couple times a week. The first two weeks of school I go over how to complete the centers and what to do when their guided reading group is called. PROCEDURES ARE VITAL TO SUCCESSFUL CENTERS. I make my students tell me every day that they may NOT come up to me while I'm at the guided reading table. They can ask 3 before me if they need help. I also allow them to work with their group if they are getting stuck. It is important that they know I have high expectations for them so they are not wasting an hour of center time socializing instead of completing a valuable practice center.

I hope to keep this system going. Classroom pictures are coming soon! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How to Organize Your Students' SCHOOL SUPPLIES!

I know I'm not the only one who loves getting school supplies EVERY year. Here is a great way that I organize my notebooks and folders -> Each SUBJECT has it's own COLOR! 
Red - Reading
Yellow - Writing
Green - Science
Blue - Social Studies
Purple - Math (spiral)
*Black- Vocabulary, Reader's Response, and Centers (composition). I have also used just plain black composition notebooks for all of the subjects and then had students glue on a COVER.

I also use the matching colored folders to accompany the subjects. The only color missing, if you noticed, was orange. I use ORANGE folders as a homework folder. This is where they keep their weekly math hw packet, spelling menu and list, and a reading log. Sometimes I do have extra black and white composition notebooks and I have my students keep one in their orange Homework Folder as a spelling journal. This way they always have extra paper to practice their words and can use even it if they need more space to solve math problems. I have used this system and it really helps keeps the students organized. 

If they buy spiral notebooks in the different colors instead, it can still work! Even if they buy only the black composition notebooks, I have them glue a cover on the front and label the bottom pages so they can easily select the proper notebook and/or folder. 

Where do you buy these?
I found these colorful composition notebooks at target for 50 cents a piece. I know Staples or Office Max will also have back to school sales with notebooks and folders for super cheap! Another great way to get supplies is to ask your office manager to see if their is left over money in your grade level budget or any extra supplies around the school. I would also make sure the parents have the supply list on Meet the Teacher night and let them know your expectations. 

Each Subject:
  • Reading: 1 RED folder for reading handouts and centers, 1 Reading Interactive Notebook, 1 Reading Response Notebook, 1 Vocabulary Notebook, and sometimes even 1 Center Notebook. = 1 Red folder and 3-4 composition notebooks that can be red or just a plain composition with a cover.
  • Writing: 1 YELLOW folder for handouts and lined paper, and 1 Writing notebook that can be yellow or just a plain composition with a cover.
  • Science: 1 GREEN folder for handouts, and 1 Science Interactive notebook that can be green or just a plain composition with a cover.
  • Social Studies: 1 BLUE folder for handouts. *I don't usually use a notebook for social studies because in 4th grade they use a consumable workbook to write in.
  • Math: 1 PURPLE folder for handouts, and 1 Math notebook that can be purple or just a plain composition with a cover.
Group Table Bins:
I like to have a GROUP BIN for each group of students. I also use a three-drawer organizer for when I have my second block of science or math come into my room. At my school I departmentalize and so their is a double block of science or math depending on what you will teach.

Divided 3-Compartment Plastic Caddies                                            3 Drawer Cart                                   
Found at Target or Walmart
Found at the Dollar Tree

I use the colorful caddies for group supplies: colored pencils, crayons, scissors, glue sticks, markers, etc. And the cart for text books or workbooks from the second class. This helps keep supplies out of the individual student desks and off the counters while allowing everyone to use what they need. I like this because I have two classes for science and we are always using supplies. This way they don't take anything out of someone else's desk and the bins stay organized.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What Does it Mean to be Gifted?

What TEACHERS Need to Know:

What does it mean for a student to be gifted? How to identify gifted students? What are the best instructional practices?

One main thing that I want to point out is "gifted" does NOT mean your student is above average in every academic area. There are many different types and levels of giftedness. Don't assume gifted students know everything or that because they are academically advanced in an area, you don't need to worry about them. If they go unnoticed/unchallenged, you will hinder their learning experiences and may cause them to lose interest in school or become a behavior risk. As the teacher, you have the ability to modify the curriculum to meet their needs. Your gifted students should never be put on the back burner because they deserve your attention too! 

An effective approach to programming for gifted learners should be seen as a combination of three elements: accelerative approaches, in which instruction is matched to the competence level of students; enrichment approaches, in which opportunities for the investigation of supplementary materials are given; and individualization, in which instruction is matched specifically to the learner’s achievement, abilities, and interests.” (Feldhusen, 1998)

What are the Florida Frameworks for K-12 Gifted Learners?
In each of our advanced learning classrooms, teachers of the gifted work to develop the depth and quality of their students’ learning experiences. The Florida Frameworks for K-12 Gifted Learners serves as a road map to assist the development of those goals.
Advanced learning opportunities can be accomplished by offering students the following:
• Pursue topics of study using greater detail;
• Tackle a wider range of tasks that applies real world work; and
• Advance through activities at a faster pace.
These advanced learning experiences are addressed in a differentiated curriculum that involves the modification of content (topic), process (activities), product (outcome), and/or the learning environment (classroom setting).
The seven goals of the Florida Frameworks for K-12 Gifted Learners can be applied to each subject area. In our middle schools, each of the advanced courses has extension activities to support the curriculum and extend the advanced learner beyond the state standards.  Every summer, teachers of the gifted work to develop thought provoking and engaging activities that not only enrich the students’ learning, but also enhance the learning process. These various extension activities are aligned with the Florida Frameworks and take place throughout the district.

CCPS TEACHER Gifted Resources:

The best way to learn instructional practices and the process for identifying gifted learners is to take the 5 gifted endorsement classes (see link below).

What PARENTS Need to Know:

CCPS Parent: Gifted Resource and More Resources

How do I know if my child is Gifted?
There are many clues that can tell you that your son or daughter is gifted. For example, your child may: Be highly motivated Be very curious Have a good memory Use advanced vocabulary Be a good problem-solver Be creative and imaginative Have many hobbies and interests Have clear learning goals Have a highly developed sense of humor. (Frasier, 1997)

How are gifted children identified in Florida?
In Florida, the Department of Education defines a gifted student as: One who has superior intellectual development and is capable of high performance, including those with demonstrated achievement and/or potential ability.
To be eligible for gifted program services, a student must:
  • Demonstrate a need for programming beyond the regular classroom
  • Exhibit a majority of gifted characteristics
  • Display superior intellectual ability as measured on an intelligence test given by a certified psychologist
A gifted student may also be a member of an under-represented group who meets the criteria specified in the approved school district plan for increasing participation of under-represented groups in gifted programs.
Students may be referred to the school team for screening by teachers, parents, or student self nomination. A student is then evaluated through a screening process using the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, Second Edition (K-BIT2). Those students who demonstrate outstanding potential are further referred to the school psychologist for an individual psychological evaluation using the Stanford-Binet V; the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fourth Edition; the Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales; the Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test; or a similar test.
According to the State of Florida Criteria for Gifted, students must show superior intellectual development as measured by an intelligence quotient of two standard deviations or more above the mean on an individually administered standardized test of intelligence.

What if my child has already been identified as gifted in another county/state?
If you are moving into the district from out-of-state or from another county within the state of Florida, it is important to know about the Gifted Programs and the services that your school will provide.
Please bring with you all records indicating the services that your child received and contact the individual school for assistance. If your child has not been administered an individualized IQ test by a school or licensed private psychologist, a temporary placement can be made if they have been attending Gifted Programs in another state, but an IQ test will need to be done at a later date to show that they qualify according to the Department of Florida state rule.
Your child must also demonstrate the characteristics of a gifted student and show a need for programming beyond the regular classroom.
Collier County offers a continuum of services for the gifted from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

RESOURCES About Giftedness:

National Association for Gifted Children

Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted 

Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page 

Davidson Institute for Talent Development

Resources and information from Visit for more information. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Keeping My Classroom Stocked and Organized!

Personally, staying organized is key to relieving stress. Teachers have enough to worry about each day. Why stress over all the stuff you may or may not have in your classroom. I thought it would be nice to create a list of all my classroom supplies. I have a system for how I organize my room. Because there are cabinets, cubbies, filing cabinets, and counter tops... I like to have a specific place for all my STUFF, for lack of a better word. I have been known to be a "hoarder". But I don't like that term! I just like to keep a lot of different resources in the event that I change grades, schools, subjects, or whatever. I think it is great to have a plethora of things on hand in case I need something. I try to go through and check what I have and what I still need. I "donate" & get rid of things that are no longer relevant to me

My TPT Store was calling my name on this one! Since I just made a checklist of things that I have in my own classroom, I figured other teachers might have a use for it. It is hard to try and remember what supplies you already have, where they are located, and what you still need. So then you end up buying something you already had to begin with. I have spent WAY TOO MUCH $ on school supplies in the past 2 years. This product is just a list of my items and where I store them. I am not going to sit there and count how many markers I have. I will just check off what I have and the rest will be things I need.

For this FREEBIE click the on the picture. 
(NOTE: You should first download ABC Teacher font if you want to keep the formatting nice and neat!) -->

Happy organizing!