Literacy and Fall Sale

Hi everybody! How are you? My Kindergarten schedule is kicking my butt! I absolutely love it, but I try to put 150% into my day, and it leaves me tired and not much energy to blog.. so I apologize for that!

I wanted to share a few pictures with you all from what we have been doing in K : )

Since it was Johnny Appleseed's Birthday on 9/26, it was only appropriate that we paint apples and watch a youtube video about Johnny Appleseed (

Read with Me ABC had a great product on TPT (for free!) to go along with Wemberly Worried.  I love this book so much, maybe because I am a worrier and can relate ;) Check it out! My kiddos had so much fun making Wemberly! 

Do you know the author David Wiesner? Well, let me tell you.. I learned about him in 2008 while I was finishing my masters, and I absolutely LOVE the illustrations and imagination in Flotsam.  This is a book I am so glad I bought because ANY AGE LEVEL can appreciate this picture book..

Has anyone heard of Laurie Berkner? She makes amazing songs for younger students! My kids love "Victor Vito" so I made up a quick template using my girl Kimberly Geswein's fonts and had them tell me how they would make Victor Vito spaghetti.. I sure have some chefs in the making! ;)

And who doesn't love Mo Willems?! Can you say... MY FAVORITE? 
What an amazing writer and illustrator.. did you know that Mo Willems makes his illustrations easy for kids to copy?  Well, I tested this out and drew the pigeon from "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!" and the kids did AMAZING... see below! I was SO proud of them, but more importantly, they were proud of themselves.

Another classic that we read 2 weeks ago was Rainbow Fish : ) The students made these adorable rainbow fish (using construction paper and aluminum foil!)

Not only will it be my 28th birthday on November 10th, but I also love getting excited about the holidays : ) The weather is crisp and the colors are beautiful.  Me and my significant other's anniversary also falls in fall (hehe) It'll be 4 years! : ) Time sure flies...

To celebrate FALL I will be throwing a sale from 9/30-10/2 at my TPT store....20 % the entire store! I hope you can pick up some Common Core activities or Fun printables to add to your collection ;) Thanks so much for all you do to support me! I love you all!
Cute graphic from my friend Jessica Benson : ) The Littlest Scholars

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Pre-Government-Shutdown Edition)

Today, all federal government employees shall eat, drink, and be about their business in preparing for what may or may not happen. This seems like a good time to listen to Neil Cavuto of the Fox Business Channel, and one of the smartest guys in the room that is cable news channels, cut through the malarkey on what happens tomorrow for all Americans, including those that are about to get exactly what they asked for.

Meanwhile, elsewhere (outside the Beltway, and) on planet Earth:

A man in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who murdered his attorney, gets a new one. You have to wonder what happens next. (SarcasmBecauseBeatingIsIllegal)

Speaking of getting a life sentence, the best place for one seems to be Norway, where they believe that the key to rehabilitation is making prison more humane than life on the outside. Or something. (FREEdom of Speech)

Meanwhile, down in Louisiana, they're teaching fourth-graders about the aforementioned seamy underbelly of life in their own unique way. And to think this state was predominantly Catholic at one time, or maybe still is. Oy! (Fox News Nation)

In another report on getting schooled, we learn what may be the ruination of the English language, and it's not text messaging. (Gizmodo)

Just two states over, in the heart of Dixie that is Alabama, we find another development in the field of education, where they still prefer a good old-fashioned ... (Fox News Insider)

In the field of medicine, doctors in China found a way to replace a man's nose that had been damaged by infection, by simply growing it somewhere else -- temporarily, we hope. (ABC News)

Next, we turn to the world of fashion. Having trouble buying shoes? Some children in the world go to bed without any. Now maybe both of you can walk a little easier. (The Daily Beast)

Finally, in yet another development in haute couture, we discover what may be the most versatile clothing you can possibly have in your closet. Because it doesn't change color, however, you may need one for each day of the week. But let the accompanying video do some of the explaining, before reading further. (Gajitz)

And that's all the news that fits, although we may or may not have some new developments by tomorrow. As the week goes on, and as we prepare a guide for what the government shutdown means to you Americans who only THINK you won't miss much, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

The Unborn as Lazarus

In today's Gospel (Luke 16: 19 - 31) we heard about Lazarus and the rich man. As our priest pointed out during the homily, the plight of Lazarus was not due to anything the rich man did to Lazarus - he didn't make him poor or hungry. The sin came from inaction - because he also didn't do anything for him. It was well within the means of the rich man to give shelter, food, alms - but his neglect was complete. Lazarus simply wasn't on his radar. This brought to mind the words we had just prayed in the Confiteor...

"I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do..."

In searching our hearts for acts of charity we must ask the question: what wrong have I done, what right have I failed to do? So how do we answer these pertinent questions when it comes to the unborn? We aren't necessarily the ones who have the abortions, perform the abortions or pay for the abortions. The ones of us who are already of the pro-life mindset would never dream of doing so. Even if we are converts to pro-life advocacy, we have asked for absolution, received forgiveness, done our penance and moved on as pro-life people of God. But even as we don't do anything to the unborn, how would we stand in the sight of God and answer Him if He said, 'my child, what have you done for them?'

As we move into October - Respect Life Month - let's see what we can do for the littlest souls. Next Sunday (October 6) will present one such opportunity. All over the nation communities will hold the annual Life Chain. This prayerful silent witness spotlighting the right to Life of the unborn and the wrong of abortion, gives us a chance to act. Check your church bulletin for the details, gather family and friends, and give a mere 2 hours of your day to the act of public witness and prayer.

Another positive action could be to participate in 40 Days for Life - going to abortion mills for 2 hour increments to peacefully pray. Hundreds of babies are saved every year from this effort. Others commit to praying the Rosary for Life during October. Another option is to join an online prayer group such as Pro-Life Prayer Partners and cooperatively pray assigned mysteries of the Rosary for the duration of events such as 40 Days for Life.

In Help Your Parish Become a Prayer Partner, I also outlined the creation of a pro-life display to encourage awareness, prayer, and action. These displays are cropping up in churches all over the country and provide information and suggestions. It's time to act! Let's see what we can do for these vulnerable brothers and sisters of ours.

Pope Francis has spoken clearly on the importance of advocating for the unborn:

“I ask everyone to continue to pay special attention to this most important issue of respect for human life from the moment of conception... safeguarding every human being from the very first moment of his or her existence.”
~ Pope Francis, Regina Caeli Address, May 12, 2013

**Here are some helpful suggestions and bits of information to get you started:

Prayer and Adoration

Say the Rosary or go to Adoration, and offer it for the unborn.
Find your nearest 40 Days for Life and join them in prayer - .
Search Facebook for - 40 Days for Life Prayer Partners – and join their community Rosary.
Add a Pro-Life Petition to your family prayer or ask your parish to add to the Mass Intentions.

Fasting and Almsgiving

Give up something you like – food, Facebook, dinner out, entertainment – and donate the money to a Pregnancy Care Center.
Find a local group and volunteer.
Save funds as a family and buy supplies for a struggling mother and her baby.

Learn and Inform

3 weeks - Her heart is already beating
6 weeks - She has her own bloodstream with blood circulating.
- Brain waves are present.
9 weeks - She squints, swallows, moves her tongue, and makes a fist.
- All of her organs are present – all she needs to do now is grow!
Understand and share the humanity of the unborn – they are complete people, just waiting to grow.
Encourage churches, schools, and organizations to allow a Pro-Life display.
Let the pro-life discussion enter into your everyday consciousness and conversation.
Volunteer for a Crisis Pregnancy Hotline such as Opportunities for Life. They answer calls 24/7 and gently support women and girls who find themselves in an unexpected pregnancy.

Encourage post-abortive women to seek out Rachel’s Vineyard for healing. Be kind and supportive.

My Achilles' Heel

your curly contributor, Suzanne

An Achilles’ heel is a deadly weakness in spite of overall strength, that can actually or potentially lead to downfall.     -from Wikipedia, so you know it's true

I'm a pretty good teacher.  I work hard to be.  But despite my resolutions, plans and attempts, there is still an area of my job where I'm no good.  My downfall lies in passing back graded work.  Each new school year brings about a new system that will be abandoned by Fair Day.  (That's right- we love us some Texas State Fair so much that it's a student holiday around these parts.  It's okay to be jealous!)  

Now in case your playing a sad song for me on the world's tiniest violin (A.K.A. you don't feel sorry for me in this struggle), here's why it really is a big deal:  As you'll recall, Robert Marzano includes providing feedback as one of his nine high-yield strategies.  In fact, he argues that it can produce a 23% gain.  In the battle my students and I are in this year, I want every possible point gained.  

Last semester, I remember laughing as a wrote a well-intentioned note on the top of a student's paper, praising their hard work and offering a suggestion for future success.  My chuckle was induced by the knowledge that this paper would never reach the hands of my eager learner.  It would eventually emerge from my "teacher bag" and meet it's demise in graded paper purgatory- a precarious stack on the top of my filing cabinet.  I'm blushing as I write this.  Confession is good for the soul.  

Well no more!  This year I've got a plan, and I'm sticking to it!  In no way is this a stroke of innovation or genius, but it's working for me.  As I've shared before, my students are in groups.  I have given each group a laminated folder with their group number on it.  

These folders are passed out in the first 5 minutes of class.  If students have homework to turn in or complete an assignment I intend to take up, I ask that they turn it into the folder.  
Well, would you look at that...a Shared Reading!

At the end of class, I take up the six folders, one from each group.  These papers stay in their humble abode to be graded.  The next class period, I hand the folders back out to their respective  groups, they collect the graded work and are ready to turn in their next masterpiece.  

Reasons I love this:
1. I touch each paper once- a sharp decline from the 476 I was averaging last year. Take paper from student-put in pile on desk-sort through because stack has now formed on top of pile on desk-into teacher bag- out of teacher bag only to be neglected during conference period-back in bag- back to pile on desk-finally frustrated with pile on desk, stack of doom on filing cabinet.  See, 476! 
2.  There is pressure on me to return papers the next class period.  In the event that this can't happen, I paper clip the work so that I still have only six stacks and can easily plop them into their respective folder.
3.  In five weeks of school, my students have received more work that my students did collectively last year.  Shameful but true.

For accountability: Fair Day is October 7th.

Let's Stop Nitpicking Abortion

Sometimes the forest is ignored because too much time has been spent concentrating on the trees. The big picture loses out to the nitpicking of the small details. This becomes apparent when taking a long, hard look at the issue of abortion. For over 40 years now, we have been subjected to the pro-abortion side of things: a Supreme Court who created an imaginary law out of a feigned right to privacy, incrementalism when it comes to which babies to save, and details that do nothing more than present yet another point over which to argue. These thoughts brought me to take a look at what’s at stake here.


The first step in unraveling our intricately knit pro-life journey is a basic biological fact. Even the pro-abortion side rarely argues against the humanity of the human product of conception any more. Furthermore, we know that it’s correct to call such an unborn human a baby. It’s not a puppy or kitten or fledgling — she’s a baby because she’s not an adult — yet. She does, however, contain everything needed to become a fully developed adult someday. Mincing our words at how we describe these little ones (fetuses) only serves to offer yet another micro-debatable topic. So stop being cautious about what it is that the Mom is carrying within her womb; it’s a baby, pure and simple. End of debate.


The Pain Capable Act that recently won passage in Texas is another example of micro-managing the pro-life issue. Yes, the pre-born baby feels pain. She feels pain at earlier than the widely accepted 20 weeks. As Maureen Condic, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah states: “The earliest ‘rudiment’ of the human nervous system forms by 28 days (four weeks) after sperm-egg fusion. At this stage, the primitive brain is already ‘patterned’; i.e. cells in different regions are specified to produce structures appropriate to their location in the nervous system as a whole.”

But is that really the issue at all? Is abortion only repugnant because the baby feels pain as she is dismembered, torn limb from limb? Or is there a much simpler reason to feel revulsion at the act of killing what was, just moments ago alive? Debating whether or not the baby feels pain is unnecessary when we acknowledge the first point: science proves she’s a baby. Any further delving into details creates yet another point of contention, and thus a distraction from the big picture. A child was present in the womb. She had the God-given right to live but it was taken from her without any consideration of her opinion of the matter.


There has been much talk about exceptions when it comes to the pro-life issue. Some will tell you that it’s okay to compromise, that babies born with defects, conceived by rape, or who endanger their mother’s health are somehow less worthy of being saved. They are expendable. Again, I direct you to the first point. Science proves she’s a baby. With that point being validly provable, no other circumstances can be validly argued to the contrary. Once there’s a life there, that life has God-given rights. It follows, then, that her humanity should be the prominent consideration. Anything else is weighing the worth of one life against another. This is something even society finds repugnant, at least in most cases, and certainly something a God-fearing Christian would not condone.


Instead of getting lost in the details, then, shouldn’t we consider the big picture? The humanity of the unborn, now irrefutably proven by science, is all the consideration we need to apply. The pro-life debate becomes simplified in that the little details don’t serve as distracting detours or points of contention. If we stick to the fact that the baby is indeed a human being, there is no need to argue and nitpick; doing so only distracts and sidelines the point. Maybe we just need to stick to the biology of life. A baby — even in her mother’s womb — is a human being. The fact that she feels pain, was conceived in less than ideal circumstances, and may not be the perfect specimen has absolutely nothing to do with her right to life. Her right to life began when she began, at fertilization.

+   +   +

I'm pleased to be participating in a Pro-Life themed blog share. Please check out the following blogs participating in the Pro-Life themed blog roll:

Jennifer from Catholic Inspired
Melody from Blossoming Joy
Direct links to the Pro-life Posts can be found below.

© 2013. Birgit Jones. All Rights Reserved - First published on Catholic Stand

Naggable Offenses

My DH (web-speak for dear husband) is a constant source of entertainment for me. I honestly think he is one of the major reasons I was able to live through a breast cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy, and subsequent surgeries without losing even more of my mind. We have a real compatibility - and yet can attack and parry with the best of them with our razor-edged tongues. Once a source of slight discomfiture for our kids, they now see it for what it is - pure playful entertainment.

This morning I was nagging reminding DH for the upteenth time, about a small thing he needs to take care of - it involves carrying two containers from point A to point B. These boxes are too heavy for me and they have to do with his job, so this is undeniably his thing. In an attempt to cajole him into doing his duty - just one more time (sigh) - I mentioned it to him as he was walking out the door. That's when he coined the phrase - naggable offenses. You know, those simple tasks that would involve a miniscule amount of time - yet they seldom get done with just one request. You see, nagging, in its true sense is repetitive requests that have more to do with optional behavior. Sit up straight, get a haircut, go visit your grandmother, find a nice girl, etc. A 'naggable' offense, then, is the 'naggee's' fault. It's apparent to any right-thinking individual that, if these small tasks were done at the time of the request, there would be no need for repetition - and thus cause the aforementioned nagging.

This got me thinking about how many naggable offenses we have accumulated over the course of our lives in our relationship with God. I found myself thinking of those times that we hear the Holy Spirit whisper to our hearts. Go to confession, get up and go to weekday Mass, visit the sick, write a thoughtful note to someone who seems sad - the list could (and does) go on and on. What if we jumped into action as soon as we became aware of these opportunities? Or perhaps we could even become more sensitive to the call to do good. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we started inventing great things to do in service to others - and therefore to God? But our God is a loving and patient God. He continues to give us opportunity after opportunity, even if we are slow to respond. If we are truly working toward bettering our relationship with Him, however, it's necessary to stimulate our awareness of what it is that He desires of us. These naggable offenses weaken our souls and desensitise our consciences as we tuck them away into our minds like unruly children. In our quest for Eternal life, let us resolve to heighten our listening skills, not to put off for tomorrow what we are called to do today and to willingly serve our loving Creator.

Approved for Diocesan Use - Pro-Life Display for Your Church

In a previous post I shared my quest to gain approval, for the 40 Days for Life display, from my diocese. Last night I presented the idea and won approval! It's been used in a diocese in Iowa for two years now. Below are just a few thoughts to help you get this life-saving display into your church, school or organization. 

Now it's up to YOU to get this into as many churches, schools and organizations as possible! On your mark, get set, gooooo - Pro-LIFE!

Sample email to Send:

Dear Pro-Life Advocate,
Thank you for your commitment to Life! Attached you will find complete instructions on how to create a 40 Days for Life display for your church, school or organization. With these easy to follow instructions and about $30, you will able to become an active Pro-Life advocate - helping to save the lives of the unborn and encouraging others to do the same. 
Follow this link for the Display Layout Instructions and Pro-Life handout to print and share:
Follow this link to download the Pro-Life Posters:
You can also read a detailed account of how to build this display by going to the Designs by Birgit blog.
In His name for Life, Birgit J

PS. This is how your completed display will look...

It's so simple to share a pro-life message!

Sample Bulletin Insert: 

**Are you being called to act on behalf of the unborn, but don't know exactly how?**Our parish has provided a way to do something simple, yet powerful during 40 Days for LIFE. Please take the time to check out the Pro-Life display at the rear of the church. In addition to the Pro-life posters, you will find a Pro-Life Fact Sheet as well as a Prayer Commitment form to fill out. Check out how easy it can be to do something tangible for the Unborn. Please also encourage others to participate, as a way to do your part. Thank you, on behalf of our littlest brothers and sisters!

Must Read Monday--Notice and Note

brought to you by Lori

In the Curly Classroom, we love us some Kylene Beers! She's all about application and she truly gets the struggle that we face when it comes to teaching kids who are reading well below grade level. Her book When Kids Can't Read: What Teachers Can Do offers lots of fix-up strategies to help teach kids how to understand what they've read and to make inferences.

Her latest book, Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading, co-authored by Robert Probst, tackles new common-core standards and problematic issues surrounding those standards and the implications for reading. In the great state of Texas, we haven't adopted the common core standards, but our TEKS do align with one of those problematic issues--a text-dependent approach to reading.

Text-Dependent Reading and Questions
When reading a text depends on a singular, text-based interpretation, kids are left to look to the teacher to see if they have gotten the "correct" answer. The argument is that we've bred an entire generation of children who don't work to fix their own understanding. Instead, they wait for the teacher to tell them what they're supposed to understand. Ouch. *I find this section utterly fascinating, and I could continue to write WAY more, but--true story--Suzanne makes fun of me when my blog posts are too long. If you want to nerd out with me on this, shoot me an email and we'll talk. 

So here is how Kylene Beers and Robert Probst suggest we tackle the problem. We show children how to monitor their own reading and how to notice those BIG moments that really push a text forward. There are six "signposts" that the authors have identified that help students to notice important shifts or moments of development. Each signpost comes with questions that readers should ask themselves as they move forward. Here are the signposts:

  • Contrasts and Contradictions--a character acting in a way that contrasts with how you would expect someone to act or that contradicts how that character has been acting.
  • Aha Moment--a character finally understands something
  • Tough Questions--when a character pauses to ask himself or someone else really tough questions, you are getting a glimpse of what's bothering him most and what he will likely struggle with (or come to understand) throughout the story.
  • Words to the Wiser--when someone who is older or wiser stops to offer the main character advice or insight, this typically points to a theme.
  • Again and Again--repetition is huge and can point to all sorts of things (theme, symbol, character development...)
  • Memory Moment--[I'm going to directly quote this one] "When we share a memory with someone, it's usually because that memory has something to do with what's happening in that moment; the memory of the past helps explain the present moment."

You should know that this particular book is centered around reading fiction. In it, the authors allude to a coming release of a similar book centered on non-fiction. Let me tell you--I'm about to rant for a bit. Sorry, Suz.

Fiction is a Big Deal 
Somehow a few years ago, English teachers got all crazy and decided that our kids read too much fiction and they know fiction and they don't read enough non-fiction. So we stopped purposefully reading it! For real. People stopped reading fiction and teaching fiction strategies because we said kids know fiction. Guess what. They don't. We may feel like we've taught enough fiction, but we haven't. Think about it this way--what's more fun to read? Fiction or non-fiction? A story about a man who challenges the status quo in his small, southern town and fights a losing fight--or an article explaining racial segregation in the south? Teacher friends, we have to teach fiction. We hook them with it, we teach them to read it well and we give them non-fiction as well. Don't give up on fiction. Pretty please. --end rant

Give Notice and Note a whirl. The questions that go with each signpost ask readers to generate their own questions, which fosters a much more authentic reading experience where kids are seeking their own information, rather than answering a question the teacher asked that they don't really care about. And--bonus in the Curly Classroom--they suggest teaching the signposts with picture books. And they provide titles. And lessons. Love.

Pope Slaps Back Pro-Choice Hopes

Today, the hopes of those, who were somehow foolish enough to think Pope Francis was a fan of abortion, were dashed. The day after a controversial, misrepresented interview, he set the record straight.

According to Life Site News, "In a meeting with Catholic gynaecologists this morning Pope Francis strongly condemned abortion as a manifestation of a “throwaway culture.”
"Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world," the pope said".

I created this meme to make sure that everyone could rest at ease. The Pope is still Catholic! To share from Facebook, click here.

Must See Pro-Life, Pro-Adoption Video from "Kansas" Lead Singer

The pro-life movement is churning out wonderful media on a regular basis these days, but sometimes something so poignant, so powerful comes along that you simply must share it in every way possible. This video, by former 'Kansas' lead singer (think 'Dust in the Wind'), is so moving and gives his own pro-life testimony in such a profound way as to beg special attention.

Published on Sep 15, 2013

Former "Kansas" lead singer and producer John Elefante is using his newest single "This Time," to share the story of his adopted daughter's birth, and in the process, bring some attention to Online for Life (OFL), an educational non-profit working to rescue babies from abortion so they can live to make their mark on the world.

"I can't imagine life without my daughter, Sami, and it just breaks my heart that pregnant young women much like her birth mother, instead of choosing life for their babies, are denying them the chance to be born," Elefante said. "If our song can in any way bring attention to this issue and encourage those who are considering abortion to choose life through options such as adoption, then we couldn't be happier.

Better Together

Your curly comrade, Suzanne

We are happy to link up with our blogger friend Megan over at M*Print.  

This year I am co-teaching a "Hybrid" English 2 class.  It's a made up name.  Don't try too hard to make sense of it.  Our students are sophomores who have not passed the English 1 STAAR test and will retest in December.  If you want to go ahead and add us to your prayer list, it would be appreciated.  The nice thing about this class is that I'm not in it alone!  I have a great co-teacher, Jacklyn.  This is her first year, so that adds to the excitement.  

*Disclaimer: We've been co-teaching for approximately four weeks.  In no way are we experts, but we're going to talk about it anyway.  Haha!* 

Here are Jacklyn's tips of the co-teaching trade:

What is the best thing about co-teaching?
The best thing about co-teaching, for me, is that I get to continue to learn teaching strategies through watching and practice. This is my first year teaching, and really my first experience with students who are at-risk when it comes to state testing. My co-teacher has more experience and training than I do, so it is awesome getting to work with her and learn the things that she knows. Also, I love being able to have more one-on-one time to help students, and co-teaching allows me to do this. The class doesn't have to stop because of a struggling student. That student can get the help that he or she needs while the other teacher continues the lesson. 

What is the biggest struggle?
The biggest struggle with co-teaching, so far, is not knowing exactly what our roles are in the classroom yet. With every new partnership, it's important to find your strengths and weaknesses and be able to help each other without stepping on each other's toes. It is difficult to find the balance, but I am confident that this will come with time, and already notice it getting easier and more routine. 

What piece of advice would you give to someone new to a co-teaching model?
As somebody who is new to co-teaching, I would tell others that are new to really have an open mind; be willing to learn anything and everything that you can from your co-teacher. Make sure that you are willing to throw things out there when you guys are planning. Even if it is something that you think may not work or could be hectic, chances are your co-teacher will have ideas that can make your lesson the best that it can be. Lastly, don't be discouraged if at first co-teaching is not what you thought it would be. There may be days where you are the teacher walking around monitoring and offering individual help while your co-teacher does the majority of the teaching, and that is okay. Once you get it figured out, co-teaching will be rewarding for both you and your students. 

And here are my two cents:

What is the best thing about co-teaching? 
Co-teaching gives you flexibility that you wouldn't otherwise have.  Experts recommend these elusive writing conferences.  I've never been able to make this work in classes that I've taught solo.  If you have this opportunity, take risks.  Set up stations where students are able to be self-directed in some and teachers provide small-group instruction in others.  We are moving toward a workshop approach to writing.  One teacher can model writing while the other is answering questions and/or keeping others on task.  We can meet with more students per class periods because we divide and conquer.

What is the biggest struggle? 
I would say the biggest struggle is transitioning from one teacher to the next.  It is best for both teachers to provide part of the instruction each day.  If for no other reason, it keeps students' attention.  We have divided our roles were one teacher leads reading instruction and the other, writing.  It helps when the class schedule is well established ahead of time and one teacher can begin passing out papers, markers, etc. for their upcoming part to teach while the other is finishing up.  This keeps the class moving and avoids that destructive downtime.  This comes with time and experience with one another.

What piece of advice would you give to someone new to a co-teaching model? 
I've got two tips:
1.  Plan together.  It is impossible for both teachers to feel ownership of the lesson if both are not involved in the planning of the lesson.
2.  Like each other.  A co-teaching model can quickly make a class feel like a family if the two teachers show that they like each other.  The students enjoy seeing teachers laugh or have inside jokes with one another.  They even feel cool when they pick up on these jokes and play along.  Showing that you like each other also keeps students from creating a good-cop/bad-cop situation.  You communicate "Hey, we talk, spend time together and have each other's back."  And that is a very good message to share!

I am so thankful for Jacklyn, and we truly are better together.  I wish you the best on your co-teaching journey!

**I experienced some serious formatting issues.  Thanks for sticking with me!**

Speak Your Mind...

...and learn-ing will follow. (to the tune of Free Your Mind)

your curly contributor, Suzanne

One of our campus goals is to implement Frequent, Small-group, Purposeful Talk about Learning (a super user-friendly title, right?) from the Fundamental 5.  We are encouraged to incorporate it into our lesson plans twice in a 90-minute block.  This isn't a radically new idea, but it has made me more intentional.

My hall buddy is the best at channeling her inner Linda Richman from Coffee Talk.

So let's look at some ways to get our students talking:

Think-Pair-Share (the Fun 5 refers to this as Stop-Jot-Talk...same difference)
Students consider a question and jot down their response.  They then partner with another student (either formally or informally) to share their answer.  
I like this routine because it allows quiet or reluctant students time to carefully consider their answer, and they walk into their sharing time with words to say.

Musical Shares
After writing a response, students stand beside their desk with their writing in hand.  When the music starts, they move around the room in any direction until the music stops and then they freeze.  Students will form a pair or trio with the people they are standing nearest to and share their response. We typically repeat this music-freeze-share routine 3 or 4 times.

Stick it To Me
I used this recently in class with pre-reading for Antigone.  After briefly discussing loyalty, I posed the question: to whom are you most loyal?  Around the room were posters labeled friends, family, faith and future.  Students had 3 minutes to choose one of the four and explain why they deserve their loyalty on a post-it.  After the timer went off, students stuck their post-it on the the corresponding poster.  They formed a group of 2-3 and discussed what they wrote for about 2 minutes.  You can allow students to get their post-it to motivate reluctant talkers.

Before my students share, I typically act out a conversation with sentence stems.  (In your group, I should hear things like, "I chose ____ because..." and "I agree with _____ because...")  Does this make me look like a crazy person?  What else it new?  Does it increase the likelihood that they will stay on task and have a productive-ish conversation?  Absolutely!!

Talk amongst ya-selves...

More pictures of my 2013 Kindergarten classroom

I have more pictures from my classroom : ) I finished my first week and I am TIRED... I felt like I had a little bit of a sore throat, so I decided to sleep in today after taking out my new puppy (Lily)... and then I took a cat nap later today.. I must've slept a total of 15 hours between the whole thing! I was a little more exhausted than I thought ;) I have a wonderful group of Kinders and I am very excited for this year.  A great start!

I couldn't re-find these adorable Table labels on TPT :( but they were so cute for my kiddos to put their books in for math and daily 5)

Here is our Clipchart that I created : ) You can find it HERE on Teachers Pay Teachers

I found these adorable labels on TPT found HERE [freebie!] and they were editable so besides saying "I am o-fish-ally in Kindergarten" I personalized them. So cute!

Here is one of my favorite areas - calendar! I have used so many amazing products for calendar.. one of them includes Georgia Grown Kiddos and her Calendar Time and Morning Meet Activities... I am in love! Couldn't have asked for a better product at the time!

From my Good Enough Teacher, there are some great calendar sets! I love the pink and blue stars and apple set that can be found HERE, but you can also buy her calendar deluxe bundle that she has! So cute, and EVERY holiday and special occasion is featured.

Here is my classroom library and book bins.. I am working on building a bigger library, but with only 12 kids, I don't need too much : ) There is always the library!

My wonderful friend Primarily Au-Some has these great classroom
jobs available (check them out here) I love how she used Melonheadz graphics because she's amazing too! It's cute and easy for my Kinders! Lots of jobs to choose from :) Sarah also has these adorable chevron labels that I used for my classroom supplies!

 I made these labels myself using cute chevron borders from Ashley Hughes : ] she has wonderful, wonderful products! And 61 freebies! Can you say generous?

And my schedule pieces that I will use year after year.. you probably have seen this product more than once, because I believe it is the #1 rated or downloaded product on TPT.. Cara Carroll is absolutely amazing, and her products are completely worth every penny.  However guess what?...these schedule cards are FREE.. free, yes I said it.  How great!

I just have to share some of my bulletin boards from this year thus far.. and all the pictures come from DEANNA JUMP.  She is the #1 seller on TPT for a reason - very talented, enthusiastic and sweet! 
These are the products that are featured below:

And I also have to include her Chit Chat Messages that are perfect during Calendar time too : ) 

Aren't they so cute?! I am so proud of my kiddos...
I teach full-day Kindergarten and have 12 total students. Some of those students are "K wraps" which means that they come to me for only half the day for enrichment, and they go to their other school for half day kindergarten. I love that we offer full day kindergarten because the kids are totally capable and they do great things.  I love them!

golocal4health Proudly Powered by Blogger