Wednesday, July 31

Building Your Kind, Caring, Growth Mindset Classroom Community

Building a culture of kindness and classroom community is so important! I love to begin the school year with these important foundations and also revisit them throughout the year!

To really dig in deep, I love complementing a kindness mini-unit with amazingly fun Read Alouds...I especially love read alouds that help develop and cultivate a strong, supportive and kind-hearted classroom culture.

This "Let's Be Kind" has several read aloud suggestions in addition to its projectables, printables and poems. You can read even more about this SEL Kindness unit in a more recent post.

A while back, while hosting Chapter 5 of Teach Like A Pirate, I wrote a non-letter letter to myself that would be like a letter I would hope to receive from a parent or student about what my classroom was all about. Gina from Third Grade Tidbits suggested I turn it into a printable.

I hope you love the results!! Everyone Matters posters! Since there are multiple options, it is a compressed (zipped) file that you'll need to extract.

For those of you who would like to add it to your office door or to another space, there are two other header versions for each of the decor options: 

This office is a...


This is a...

This culture and community of kindness and growth mindset is so important to me...a culture of persevering when mistakes are where kids want to figure things out where we can crack up together and especially make sure we know that every single one of us counts, has strengths, needs to grow and feels loved and cared for by their peers.

When kids understand this, soooo much progress can be made - academic, social, very important when educating the whole child.

That being said...the read alouds I select should speak to these core values...

By the way...any time you click the titles of the books, it's a hyperlink to the book on Amazon where you can often see more of it inside. Full disclosure: It's also linked to my Amazon Affiliate pressure...I just do that because if you had been planning to buy it already, why not do it in a way the gives someone a teeny tiny credit when it's at no extra cost to you? I love online shopping off of others' Affiliate links...feel free to leave your link in the comments. :)

Back to School Growing Firsties Read Alouds
Amazon Affiliate links included in this post

Updated to add two more FABULOUS titles!

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain helps kids understand how their brains work - it helps build community because it levels the playing field when it comes to skills (just because someone is quicker at math doesn't make them smarter or more special). It also helps everyone understand the importance of effort.

Taking Flight is written by a 12 year old about her experiences learning to fly a plane, and then flying it across the US and even the Atlantic Ocean back in 1992. My students are MESMERIZED by it and it's a great touchstone book to discuss problem solving and perseverance.

You might also like my post about Growth Mindset, over on Elementary Chalkboard, too!

Here are the books I'm thinking about...

I am completely obsessed with Amy Krouse Rosenthal's books...she is unique, clever and profound. Especially when she partners with Tom Lichtenheld for his illustrations.

I love to read The OK Book within the first days of school...It is SO clever...when you turn the OK vertical, it turns into a stick figure person...the message of the book is "I'm okay at a lot of things. Some day I'll be excellent at some things. I'm having a lot of fun being okay along the way."

There are countless applications to this message!

I'll further develop the culture using another one of my very favorite books...

Ish by Peter Reynolds helps build the life-critical concept that just because it's not perfect doesn't mean you shouldn't try. 

Here's another life message one by a groovy cat...

Pete the Cat is the most loveable and groovy cat that does not let himself get worked up about obstacles..."It's allllll good."

Pete is the mascot in my classrom...I have a 14ish inch plush Pete attached to my easel helping us all throughout the day try to remember that "it's allll good." At home, my son has a plush Pete that is over 2 FEET tall! We lovvvve Pete!

I'm also excited about reading Leo the Late Bloomer as a way to discuss that we're all currently strong at different things and everyone will develop more strengths at different rates...which is ALLLLLL good! Thanks, Katie, for putting it out there on your page!!! (So many reasons you're fab, girly!)

The last fave that comes to mind is by the amazing Kevin Henkes...

Chrysanthemum is wonderful for so many reasons! I love to use it at the beginning of the year to discuss the harmfulness of teasing.

I would SO love to hear what books you enjoy reading to develop your classroom community!!!


Tuesday, July 30

Working With Sight Words

Sight Word Automaticity (I love that word!) is an important element of becoming literate.

In this post I'll be focusing on Sight Words...but I feel like if I don't talk a weensy bit about other facets of facilitating literacy that you'll think I overly emphasize Sight here's a nod to some freebies that I use within the Workshop model I use...

Word-Solving Strategies (Click pic to get to my freebie...)

Comprehension Strategies (I love Lyndsey Kuster's freebie posters.)

Fluency Building (Again...a freebie from Lyndsey...she's amazing!)

K...back to Sight Words...

For some beginning readers, learning sight words is easy peasy. For others, it's really challenging. 

Many fall somewhere in the middle, with some words easy, others tricky.

Our district has not adopted a specific spelling program...but here's what we do during our alternating weeks. Last year my turnover day was Thursdays...

Week A...Five high frequency spelling words pre-tested on Thursdays

Week B...Two high utility Chunks/Word Features (chunk/digraph/word family, etc)

Thursdays included a post-test of the previous words/chunks and a pre-test of the new words/chunks.

The post test was self-corrected using a pretty specific method...I will blog about it soon.

Here's a letter of explanation we shared with parents. You are welcome to it, as well! 

The pencil is from Ashley Hughes' freebie Fat Mini Pencils set.
Fonts are from Kim Geswein and Jennifer Jones.

Click here to get it in pdf form. (Uneditable...fonts will look the same as above.)

Click here to get it in an editable Powerpoint. (Editable...but for the fonts to look the same, you need to download: KG Be Still and Know & Jen Jones Hello Millionaire from her Commercial License set.)

Back to spelling/sight word practice...we spend roughly 10 mn of explicit practice time every day for whole class work on sight words/spelling. This practice time might be white board practice, whole body cheers & movement, partner practice, Roll A Word, Roll A Chunk (freebies below), etc.

The next one is in half-page format, but I includes two versions of an answer key to further explain my intentions with the game.

Click either pic to download from Google Docs...the blackline masters and the answer keys are included.

We also work on Sight Words in small group during Guided Reading and Guided Writing...

I tell many firsties gloss over the word and say/spell something close, but not quite...saw for was; like for look; his for has, etc.

This kinda drives me nuts.

So I made a little freebie in June that prompted sweet followers to email me and comment, wanting to know if it would turn into a pack.

Let's just say, after what felt like five million gobzillion hours, it turned into TWO packs...



I have a more extensive blog post about these packs in {THIS POST HERE}, but here's a little preview...

Set 1 has 43 pages of graphs and patterns...

The words on thFind, Tally & Graph pages correspond with the words on the Find, Graph & Answer pages (noted by matching clip art) so you can provide extra practice with the same words. (The answers are different, though)...

Wondering which words are used?
Answer keys in two sizes are included...full page size & quarter page size...

Set 2 includes 27 pages of mixed coin counting...

There are three coin combo versions for each set of words...the page border and coins listed next to the page header help you know which coins are found on the page.

My editors were SO helpful with the answer keys! All of our eyes were googly during the process...but those answer keys will be super helpful to you!

Set 2 also includes full page and quarter page sizes, depending on your printing needs.

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