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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Summer Flash Sale



I'm having a one day summer flash sale with my Kinderland friends to celebrate to end of school for me.

For Sunday only my whole store will be 20% off.

Click on the picture above to head on over to my store.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chapter 2: The Next Step in Guided Reading - Freebies


This week's chapter is all about assessment  Here are the questions to think about.  

Below are the assessments that I use to test letter knowledge and sight words.  Each pack is free and they include instructions for testing children with little or no verbal skills.

At this stage I don't do dictated sentences.  Most of my children have little letter knowledge and poor fine motor skills so I don't think that this would be useful for me to do.  I don't really do a writing sample but rather a printing sample.  I have the children print their numbers and letters and their name each month so that I can see progress over time.  You can find the link below.  It is a paid product.

I do complete running records once the children have enough sight word knowledge.  I usually use the PM Benchmark kit.  This kit has a comprehension section so I usually use that.
















I usually use my own assessments every day and I do a running record every couple of months or if I feel a child needs moving to the next level.  I don't usually introduce the text used in the assessment but I do try to make sure that the bulk of the words are part of their sight vocabulary.  I've never had the student read the text silently first, I usually do a picture walk.  If the student asks for help, I tell them.  I check to make sure that they remember what I told them the next time they see the word.  If I have to keep telling them, we need to work on it.  I usually ask a lot of questions when we read stories to check for comprehension.  When the books become too easy,  I usually do a running record to decide if a child needs to move up.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Calendar Freebie

Are you getting ready for next year?  Even though I still have a week left of school, I'm thinking ahead to next year.  One thing I need to get ready is my calendar.  Here are some calendars with traceable numbers for your calendar books.  Click on the picture below to grab them for free.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Chapter 1: The Next Step in Guided Reading


I'm so excited for Chapter One of our new book study.  I hope that you will follow along with us each week and join in on the conversation.

For those of you who don't know, I teach at a very small school.  Next year there will be 32 students.  All have a speech and/or physical disability.  The children are split into 4 classrooms, 8 children in each class. 


Therapists come throughout the day and remove children for individual and/or group therapy.  At times, a class of 8 could become a class of 2 when children are gone for therapy.  Where am I going with this?  Well it's very hard to run math or literacy centres or have guided reading groups with only 2 students.

The other problem we have at the school is the varying ability levels of the children.  Each class might have several children that are working at or above grade level with children who are still working on making consistent yes/no answers.  When planning activities it is sometimes difficult to concentrate on certain skills with such a wide range.

Most of the children only stay with us for one year before being integrated back into their home schools.  We have only one year to make a huge difference in these children's lives.

When I read "The Next Step in Guided Reading" I got really excited.  I loved the whole the concept of the book but how could I run guided reading groups with such a small number of children?  How would I be able to run things with such a wide range in abilities and learning styles?

This year we came up with a radical plan that we are planning to implement in September.  During our literacy block, which is one hour long, we will combine all four classrooms and then redistribute the children into three larger groups based on ability.  This will allow us to concentrate on skills dedicated to each groups needs and will allow for some leeway if children leave for therapy.

This will be a brand new idea for us, so I know there will be lots of kinks to work out.  The children will be split into three groups.  Each group will have a teacher and one or more educational assistants with it.  We will need to focus on fostering independence in the children that are capable of doing independent work and provide support for the children who need it.  In the first 6 weeks we will be introducing read alouds, shared reading and independent reading to the children as a basis for what will come in the following weeks.  We will probably be doing these as whole group activities.  In this time, we want the children to bond with their classmates, learn to share, get along and build a rapport that will allow for productive work in the future.  We also need to get to know the students, their way of communicating, and the level of assistance that they are going to need within the group.  All of children (except one) will be junior kindergarten (3 to 4 years old) or senior kindergarten (4 to 5 years old) age.  Some will not have had any school experience before.  Because of their young age, I'm not sure that we will be using reading notebooks.

We only have one hour to get everything done so we are going to have to watch the clock.  I am going to get a timer and have everything well planned.  I think that the more well planned things are, the more likely that you are going to keep on track.  I don't have to worry about too much noise and interruptions from the children as each group will be in a different room.  The main problem is noise from the adults.  When children are picked up and dropped off for therapy, it's easy to get carried away getting updates at the time.  This can be loud and distracting for the group.  I think I might try and come up with a signal that everyone will know, that means "don't interrupt" and "quiet".  Updates can be done at times outside of groups.  It is also very easy for the adults in the room to talk to each other and for them to get distracted.  I'm going to lay out strict guidelines for what type of behaviour I expect from the adults in the room. I think clear expectations will lead to more productivity.  During our literacy block, we will have an extra teacher that will be able to do a running record on the children (or any other assessment deemed necessary).  This way we will be able to make sure that the children are picking appropriate books during self selected reading time.  All of our levelled books are organized into bins with the level number on the outside of the box.

This will be a huge undertaking next year and I'm so looking forward to the challenge.    I find when you do the same thing year after year, you lose your spark.  Doing something new with the children will renew some of the energy that can dwindle over the years.   I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Under the Sea Math

My "Under the Sea" math unit is finally ready.  It will be on sale for half price until the weekend only.  Here are the activities in it.  Click on the title page to head to my store to get it.













Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Teacher Tips! Summer Linky Party Week 2




It's week two of the summer linky party over at Freebielicious.  I thought I would gear my advice to what to do if you have a special needs child in your class especially the child with severe disabilities.   In today's classrooms, many children with severe disabilities are being integrated into regular classrooms.  What do you do if you have a child like this in your class?  What do you do with a wheelchair, stander, communication device?  Who do you go to for advice?  Here's a few things to keep in mind.

1. Treat the child just like any other child in your class.  That means the same expectations as everyone else (unless there is something like a behaviour plan in place).  If everyone is expected to line up, sit quietly, read, do math, etc, then your child with special needs should have the same expectation.  Nothing makes a child stand out more than doing something completely different than their peers. Integration does not mean just sitting in the same physical space as your peers. This does not mean that you necessarily have the same expectations academically.  For example, if everyone is completing math work then the child with special needs should be completing their math at the same time, even if it's at a different grade level.

2. Arrange your class so that the child can get around easily and has access to all areas of the class.

3. Talk to the class about the child's disability (with or without the child, depending on the child).  If the child is able and willing, have them explain things to their peers (only if the child is mature enough to do this).  See if your local community has a disability awareness program and invite them to come in and talk to the class.

4. If your child has a paraprofessional, make sure to strike up a good working relationship with them.  They can be your best friend.  Work together and set up schedules to work in equipment.  Make sure the person is "assisting" and not "doing".

5. Give the child "time" if they need it.  Time to respond, time to complete work, time to get from one place to another.

6. Try and pair the child up with a friend.

7. Make sure that the child does EVERYTHING that everyone else does.  In my class, no one is left out.  Check out my post on McHappy Day.  When the class ate McDonald's, everyone did, even my students that needed puréed food.  You can find creative ways to do anything.  If the child can't do the activity then think of something else for the class to do.

8. Make sure you have good communication with the parents.  Set realistic goals for the year.  It's better to set small goals that are obtainable then larger ones that are not going to be met in one year.

9. Know your child's equipment and make sure it's used.  Standers, walkers, wheelchairs and communication devices have all been put into place for a reason.  A child can't be in one position all day.  Make sure they can get out and stretch.

10.  Remember:  A child with a disability is still a child.  Make sure you have fun.

Check out the blogs below for more great new teacher tips.



Monday, June 10, 2013

How to Make Ice Cream, Freebie and Linky party


I'm teaming up with my friends over at Freebielicious to bring you weekly linky parties.  This weeks linky is about end of the year ideas.

We will have 3 weeks of school left.  It seems so far away but not enough time to get everything done.  Don't forget to go to the end of the post to link up or to see all the other great ideas.

This is one of my favourite things to do at the end of the school year.  It's really easy to make and the kids love it.  It's very easy for children with poor fine motor skills to do as well.








Here are my ice cream activities.
The first one is a freebie.