Friday, December 19, 2014

Freebie Friday!


Is this your last day before winter break? We have a full day of school next Monday and a half day on Tuesday. I'll have my bags packed in the car and I will be the silver blur leaving the parking lot at 1:00 pm...headed towards this:

Do you see that ONE person chillin' on the far right? 

That's exactly how this beach looks...we have the whole place to ourselves! The very few people we will see are as friendly as you'll ever meet, but it's mostly just the seagulls, dolphins, and myself :)

BUT, before we get there...

Yesterday, you may have heard loud cheering around 3:00 pm as we completed our last NWEA test! As a special educator, I have a two-week window to administer each test individually. My students have the test broken up into multiple sessions (based solely on their needs). This year, they averaged answering 10-15 questions per session...slow and steady wins the race! 

We want our first graders to grow approximately 10 points (RIT band range) from Fall to Winter. Of course, I want need my students to grow more. They averaged 11 for math and 16 for reading! Woohoo!

I believe the math scores are lower because of our math scope and sequence. We don't start our measurement and geometry units until after the testing window, so we expect a huge increase in scores next spring after our students have had time with the skills. 

Here's some pictures of what we fit in between all the testing:

Writing: my rockstar student wrote a chapter on Mario (& Luigi), Ms. Stroh (his general education teacher ♥), Myself, Mommy, and My Granpa. Love it!

My Power Hour earned enough gems to have their Playdough Party! We enjoyed  snacks, a little Kids Bop on Pandora, and used
my Sculpt It! Literacy Center unit with playdough:

If you follow the link, you'll also see more pictures of my annual Playdough Party...I did a much better job of snapping photos last year!

The Sculpting Practice Page Freebie is linked up with:

 Teaching Blog Addict

This also happened yesterday:

We sent the children home pretty sugared up (sorry!). 
They were SO excited about the houses!

Thank you for reading! 
Have a fabulous Friday!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WBT Freebies & Christmas Craze!

Happy Wednesday!
I hope you're having a fantastic holiday week! 

This morning I treated myself to my (first) cup of coffee and caught up on blog reading. WOW - teachers are absolutely amazing! It's so inspiring to read how teachers are providing such wonderful holiday memories for their students!

I'm watching from the sidelines this year...because I'm still testing.

I'm not sure why our NWEA MAP testing window was moved to December this year, normally we have our students take it in January. Hopefully we will move it back for next school year.

So holidays are not really happening much this year in my world, although I do have green & red "Brain Food" (M&Ms) for a couple of students who need a bit of a boost to focus on their test. 

The wonderful news is that my students are really rocking the test! I'm so proud of their progress...not just in the area of content, but test-taking abilities! These little guys are definitely "showing what they know" and there have many happy parent phone calls sharing the good news!

I wanted to share a little spin on how I've been preparing my friends for NWEA. I already printed out the math and reading cards (over 400 altogether!) and have them assembled on book rings by RIT band:

For extra practice, I've also been printed out the half-page cards as activity pages for my students to paste into notebooks and complete:

These cards not only used for a quick check for understanding, but also provide the opportunity to reinforce our test-taking each question two times, read through all the choices, check your work :)

Both sets of cards (math & reading) are the same size/format as these MEGA freebie collections:

If you already purchased the NWEA sets (thank you!), please be sure to print out the WBT freebies...altogether there's almost 600 coordinated cards! These cards literally cover everything my firsties need to know by June!

Next, I'm looking at new formats...INB, journals, "morning work" pages, etc. Please let me know if you have a request, thanks!

I am managing to fit in the tiniest bit of holiday fun in between tests. I plan on writing more on Friday to share :) 
Have a wonderful Wednesday!

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hide Zero Freebie & Sensory Fun!

Happy Sunday!

What is your countdown?

We have SEVEN more school days :)  We have a full week of NWEA testing (or as one of my students says "Nee-wah"), general education learning, & a field trip! The following week, our students have school Monday and a 12:15 dismissal on Tuesday.

This week, we'll be tackling one of my FAVORITE math skills: Hide Zero. Last year was the first time we used Engage NY and this concept was a huge lightbulb moment! This year I think my students have already figured it out when we were working with Making Ten. If I'm correct, they are going to snap up this skill quickly!

I used pastel "winter" cardstock:
Hide Zero Common Core Math

We will also be exploring our weekly rotating sensory bin:

sensory bin

I wish you could smell the pine! 
I added sentence scrambler cards from my
Santa Sentence Builders packet:

Christmas sentence builders

What are you teaching this week? I'd love to hear from you :)

Lastly, I walked into my house Friday after a l-o-n-g week of teaching & testing and was met with this:

Plus a beautiful wreath/floral display - I haven't been able to snap a picture that does it justice. There were also holiday candles lit and Christmas music playing :)

 I rewarded Mr. D by sitting on the couch and immediately falling asleep. Oops!

The math freebie is linked up with:
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Have a wonderful week!

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Friday, December 12, 2014

5 for Festive Friday!

Happy 5 for Festive Friday!

Not only is it Friday, it's a HALF-DAY Friday for our school - students dismiss at 12:15 :)

I'm linking up with Kacey to share about the week:

It's NWEA MAP Testing time for our first graders - woohoo! 
A bit tough on our little guys, but they've been showing extra grit and being true rockstars. 

Every student takes two tests (Primary Math and Primary Reading) and each test is 57 questions. I administer the test individually and most times we get through about 10 questions before taking a break. We are about halfway done and so far EVERY student has grown an average of 10 points since September!

I created practice cards (400 of each subject!), not because my students weren't demonstrating mastery of the content, but because the LANGUAGE of the test still trips them up.

In example, here's a question about syllables:

When we first introduce syllables, we often stay pretty low on Bloom's Taxonomy by asking questions such as "how many syllables are in your name?" But as you can see with this question, students must first identify the amount of syllables and then understand that they need to find ALL the pictures that have the same amount (& what does the word "same" mean?). 

 My firsties will often choose one picture (snake) and then press "next," which of course would be wrong :(  And sometimes NWEA gets a bit trickier and includes pictures with the same beginning/ending sound, which my students will often fall for. 

I've made up "Quick Questions" for both math and reading for my students so that they can get used to language, because knowing the content isn't enough! We want them to be able to apply it.

I could go on and on ;)

If you already have the cards, please check back soon - I'll be adding more, especially as I'm observing my students falling for more language traps!

With all the testing, we haven't quite hit holiday mode yet. Yesterday I linked up with the fabulous Mrs. Lemon's 
for her Deck the Classroom linky:

I've also been drooling over all of these beautiful homes:

Seriously, this link comes with a warning - a hour will pass by before you know it as you're looking at all these wonderfully decorated homes! Just beautiful!

I'm also linking up with The Inspired Apple for a Christmas Conversation:

Thank you for reading & have a fantastic Friday!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Deck the Classroom! Linky

Happy Thursday!

I'm still in knee-deep in testing, but taking a break to link up with Step into 2nd Grade for:

I love reading and seeing other teachers' classrooms.
Such lucky students!

Our school doesn't emphasize Christmas, but I know the students are excited. I have to be discreet, but a festive theme still sneaks in:

To read more about each component of our "WOW" board, 

Be sure to return to Ellison Education's Blog on December 16th - I'll be sharing Part 2!

I also mix in as many of my holiday supporting materials (all bundled here) into the instruction as possible and I've been ending each Guided Reading "Power Hour" with a holiday read-aloud.  Our favorites so far have been If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, The Snowy Day, and The Gingerbread Boy. Next week is Polar Express followed by a movie screening :)

We are in school through December 23rd (half day). Our testing window ends the Friday before, so I imagine we'll be spending Monday (22nd) and Tuesday (23rd) doing more hands-on holiday activities. We also have a field trip to squeeze in before break...sigh.

Does your school allow you to celebrate holidays and which ones?
Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Thank Goodness for Wordless Wednesday!

Thank you Miss DeCarbo for hosting!

This week is all about NWEA MAP testing,
but we managed to sneak in a few breaks with this:

Holiday sensory box :)

Here's the mug I'm eyeing at Starbucks!

My latest blogpost over at Ellison Education was posted this week!

My blog received a mini-facelift from Honey Bunch Blog Design!
Thank you Erika - I ♥ it!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Testing, Testing: Freebies

Happy Monday! 
I hope you had a fantastic weekend :)

I had  plans to blog this weekend about my new Power Hour Challenge and Guided Reading rotations. Instead, I was busy prepping for our huge week of testing!

We are administering the NWEA MAP test for the next two weeks. As a special educator, I proctor the test individually for my students. I wonder how many times I've heard each question...

Actually, it is a tiny bit interesting as the test "follows" the student and selects questions based on how they answer previous ones. I've gotten pretty good at predicting where the test is going to go!

I've updated some visual supports I use with my students:

We use crayons to create a simple bar graph :)

There are more grit trackers in my mega-pack:

We've also been prepping with my NWEA Quick Question Packs:

I have to admit, I'm a tiny bit sad when I'm reading other teaching blogs describing their gingerbread and candy cane lesson plans, but I'm super-psyched to see how my students have grown!

I'll keep you posted on their progress! 
Have a wonderful week! 

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