13 in '13

I can't believe that another year is over.  I am linking up with some wonderful teacher bloggers for

Most of my wardrobe consists of black and an occasional pop of color.  Black goes with everything!

One of my favorite outfits is similar to this and can be worn with tights or leggings.  My favorite places to shop are Target, Kohl's and Ann Taylor Loft.  

I don't go to movies often but if I do it is always a family movie.  I loved this one.

Thursday is my favorite night of television. Never mind the fact that it is so hard to stay up late!  I began watching in the middle of last season and now, I am addicted to this show.

Other favorites include Parenthood, Grey's Anatomy and Top Chef.

We don't go to many sit down restaurants but if we do, it usually because we are visiting family or going to Disneyland.  I love Thai food and we frequent this OC location.  And, if we are in the area, I will also need a Sonic cherry limeade to make the drive home a little better.

This past school year, I have tried limiting the amount of caffeine I drink. This means no coffee or soda.  I reward myself on the weekends.  I'm not sure it's been my favorite thing but it is something new that I've tried.

Honestly, I have more than I need.  I am lucky to have an amazing husband who supports me and my teaching; that is a gift in itself.  My classroom and I were lucky to have our Donor's Choose project funded for an iPad.  That was amazing!

I love Pinterest and pin all the time. I am not a baker so I was happy to say that I successfully made this.  

I love this blog post because it reminds me of why I teach; kids loving learning and doing it on their own.

Statistically, this was a popular blog post in 2013.  It is a great post on composing and decomposing numbers.

I think my biggest accomplishment has been to help nurture my son's curiosity about learning.  It seems like overnight, he went from an emergent reader to a voracious reader.  He reads everything and everywhere!  

This picture is one of my favorites.  It means summers on the lake in WI where times seems to stand still.

The holidays are a wonderful reminder of the innocence of children.  This is our third year with an Elf on the Shelf but this year it meant more to my little one.  Elfie was able to leave notes which he could read.  Each morning, he awoke to find Elfie and his message or a special treat like a holiday CD or book.  This usually resulted in him write back or whispering thank you to Elfie.  It was a sight to see.  I hope that we can hang on to this for as long as possible.  Kids grow up way to fast; especially if they are yours.

My goal for 2014 is to be the best wife, mother and teacher that I can be.  


Cheers to 2013!  Looking forward to a new year.

Happy Teaching!

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Merry Christmas

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Building Bridges - Gingerbread Style

For the past few years, we have completed our Gingerbread unit during the month of December. I find that this is a perfect time of the year to read this story.  It is wonderful for so many literary standards but this year I wanted to try something new.

I came up with this project based challenge.  What if the Gingerbread had to cross the river without the help of the fox?

We discussed what might the Gingerbread do to get across.  Some students thought it could swim.  But, after some discussion, students discovered that the Gingerbread would crumble.  Finally, a student suggested that the Gingerbread could get across if there was a bridge.

We began the work of building a bridge for the Gingerbread.   We used 20 linker cubes, mini marshmallows, and this type of spaghetti.  Students worked in pairs to create a bridge.  They needed to talk with one another and create a bridge which would hold the Gingerbread.  As a teacher, it was very interesting watching students work together.  Some were able to easily collaborate whereas other groups struggled a bit more though the process.

In the first picture, the students decided to string the marshmallow through the spaghetti.  Then, they added it to the towers of linker cubes. Genius!  In the third and fourth pictures, the marshmallows are the base and support the weight of the linker cubes.

After building their bridge, the students had to show me how the Gingerbread would cross the river.  I was able to capture this on video.  Here is a brief video sample of one.   I loved how this activity required the students to think, talk, and create; all Common Core!

Finally, just in case you need a few more books.  Here is a great sample of different versions of the Gingerbread story to add to your collection.

Happy Holidays!
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Progress Monitoring

I spent last week doing this; highlighting and analyzing data to report out to parents about their child's learning.  Along the way, it gave me a chance to reflect upon my teaching practices and student learning.     

For the past few years, our kindergarten team has used ESGI to create, test and collect data about our students.  What is ESGI?  ESGI is an assessment tool which allows teachers to create 1-1 assessments.  What I love about this program is that the data is instantaneous.  In the past, we used to give assessments but never had a way to see "gaps in learning."  With ESGI, you can.  It has revolutionized the way our team creates assessments.  In fact, we use ESGI for all of our "formal" assessments.  

Here is what my ESGI page looks like.  

I actually send this pie chart home to parents so that they can compare their child's data with the class average. In addition, I am able to send individual test results which show "correct and incorrect" responses on each assessment given. Parents love this because it shows them exactly what their child needs.  The Test Result Letters are customizable and available in Spanish if needed.

As a team, we use ESGI in a variety of ways.  We are able to create "like" assessments for both our English and Spanish classes; especially in the area of math.  Our Bilingual teacher is also able to create assessments that fit the need of her students.  We can also create some paper and pencil exams and then input the results into the system so that it is in one collective spot.  We do this for number writing and counting objects.  More importantly, we use the data to create our intervention groups.  We usually work on one to two skills based on our data and pull our small groups for intense intervention.  We will progress monitor this group of student once every three weeks to see their progress.

Here are a few reasons why I love ESGI and would recommend it to any primary teacher.

Happy Teaching!

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An "Elf"tastic Freebie

Have you joined the elf craze? For the past three years, Elf has visited our home.  I admit that I am not as creative nor have the time as all the other mommas across the world.  So, our Elf sits on the shelf and watches. He brings us a few trinkets and notes as needed.  Luckily, I have a believer so it doesn't take much to make him happy.

Last night, we spent some quality time learning how to draw an elf. He was so proud of his work and wanted to share it with Elf.  We began with a simple template that I shared here.

I created a video guide for my Facebook Fans.  This Freebie will show you and your students how to draw an elf.

I plan on having the elf visit our classroom soon.   I think this will be a great way to begin our Winter break.

Happy Teaching!
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Guided Drawings of Pilgrims and Native Americans

For the past two years, I have completed these guided drawings with my students.  It usually takes two class sessions to complete them.  On the first day, we make Pilgrims.  Girls will draw a Pilgrim girl and boys will draw a Pilgrim boy.  The following day, girls will draw a Native American boy and boys will draw a Native American girl.  These become keepsakes for their memory box.  

Today, I am sharing my step by step drawings with you.  To complete the lesson, you will need about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  You will also need to copy a U-shaped smile on 12x9 white construction paper.  I have found that giving this starting point helps them tremendously.

I model each step with the students.  As I model, students draw in pencil.  Once completed, they will trace their pencil drawing with marker.   

Along the way, I monitor each student's drawing. Usually, I am giving directions specifically for the boys and then, directions specifically for the girls.  This means, students have to pay close attention.

I model coloring and limit what colors that they can use because these are meant to be realistic drawings.  

As a final touch, we color the background in a color that we did not use in the drawing.  This gives it a pop of color.  I love how they turn out and my students are always so proud of their work.  

I hope you found this helpful.  

Happy Thanksgiving!
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It's November. What Am I Teaching?

How can it possibly be November? I am not ready.  For me, November means formal assessments.  I feel like I have to squeeze in as much teaching and as many standards before I formally assess each child 1-1 on a gazillion skills.

Today, I am going to share my schedule as well as the resources that I use to help supplement my teaching.  Many of the wonderful resources come from you; fabulous and talented teachers who teach by day and create by night.  I am in awe of your dedication and passion.

I am required to teach this as my core Language Arts curriculum.  As a result, my mornings are very full.   

Language Arts Additions
These are activities that we will complete during our Language Arts portion of the day in lieu of doing a workbook page a day.  Instead, we will complete several workbook pages on one or two days to make time for these.

Math Work Stations
These stations will be used all month long.  I will add a few of my own teacher created items like this one.

Daily 5
During our Daily 5 time, these two items are in our weekly rotation.  As students complete them, they immediately go into each student's Book Box to read.

Social Studies
Our focus is on Thanksgiving.  During this time of day, we read, write and create together.   I use lots of anchor charts and songs to develop language and support learning.

Three times a week, our neediest kindergarteners receive intervention support which focuses on one or two skills.  Our entire team supports each other and our students. Every three weeks we progress monitor and change groups as needed.  Students love this time and so do I.  This time, forces you to think outside of the box to keep kids engaged.  This time is fast paced.  We play games, move around, write with shaving cream in addition to using these resources.


Whew! I am not sure about you but I am exhausted just thinking about all that we accomplish in a week.

Take a look at what others are doing here.

Read about my Lakeshore Learning Giveaway here.

Happy Teaching!
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