Monday, July 6, 2015

Kagan Love

Last year, my school began to really focus on student engagement, and to do that, my principal worked extremely hard to get all of our staff some sort of Kagan training. If you've never heard of Kagan, you can check their website out here. I have loved every training I've been too - I have never been bored! Last year, I was able to go to a one day cooperative leaning, a one day win-win discipline, a model school open house, and a one day brain based learning. I even got to meet Dr. Kagan himself at the brain based learning workshop {and yes, we were dorks and had our picture made}.
Basically, like their tagline says, Kagan is all about engagement. The goal is that every child will be engaged in meaningful learning and to do this, they use different structures. There are LOTS of structures, so it can be very easy to get overwhelmed at first. {That's why I love their trainings - you learn by doing structures and not just hearing or reading about them}. These structures accomplish a few things...

To clarify, these structures are a means to establish cooperative learning in your classroom - not group work! In traditional group work, one student can do all the work while others do nothing. Kagan has all students accountable during learning! 
My goal this past year was to do a really good job at 2-3 structures. Two of my favorites {because they are super easy to implement with kindergarteners} quickly became Quiz, Quiz, Trade and Take Off, Touch Down. For Quiz, Quiz, Trade, each student gets card, then they stand up, put their hands up, and pair up with the person closest to them {this is also a strategy called Stand Up, Hands Up, Pair Up}. Then, the students greet each other {this is big in Kagan}, answer the question on their card/read a word/whatever the card has on it, give praise {something else that's big}, and then go find another partner. Every child is engaged! There is no one not interacting or learning! Here's a few pictures from when we used this structure with our word cards.



These cards are folded in the middle, so that there is a hint on the back in case the students have trouble.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Word-Cards-For-a-Variety-of-Games-and-Activities-1939512

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Word-Cards-For-a-Variety-of-Games-and-Activities-1939512

To check out the word cards we used for the structures above, click the picture below.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Word-Cards-For-a-Variety-of-Games-and-Activities-1939512
There are tons of other Kagan structures that I've used, or that I hope to try out this coming year and I plan on sharing more of my favorites on the blog. Next week, I'll be in Orlando for the Kagan Summer Academy where I'll get to attend two more Kagan workshops and I am super excited!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Capture Summer Memories!

If you're like me, you're soaking up all things summer right now and taking a much deserved break from school life {and if you're still in school - hang in there!!}. It is so super hot here in south Alabama, so we're having to be creative with our summer fun since it's near impossible to stand the heat for very long. {You can check out what I'm up to on Instagram - the one form of social media I'm pretty good at posting on!} One thing I've been doing {with some inspiration from my sister} is trying to take more pictures of my sweet girl that aren't posed. I'm great at getting posed shots, but sometimes I forget to take pictures of her just enjoying her days!
Here's a shot I got a week or so ago at an outside concert we went to {late in the day, so it was not so miserably hot!!
I love how the background is blurred and the focus is all on her sweet face.
Here's another picture I took the same night of my niece...it's edited to be black and white, but for an amateur, I think it is such a sweet picture.
Both of these pictures were taken with my nice DSLR camera and I can honestly say, it is one of my most favorite things! I can't imagine not having it now! I use it constantly at school and home.
Here's the GREAT news - I'm teaming up with some of my most favorite blogging friends to give away an AWESOME photography pack!
This giveaway has an amazing camera {a Canon DSLR T5} that comes with the kit lens {I use mine for everyday use or when we're on trips where I want to see the background}.
In addition, you also get this amazing 50mm lens that allows you to get those beautiful bokeh shots like above.
And that's not it!! You also get this beautiful JoTotes bag {I'm super jealous of this!}

All you have to do for a chance to win is enter using the rafflecopter below. It will take a minute because a lot of us came together to make this giveaway so great, but we're only asking that you follow us one way :).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

End of the Year

I'm back!! I would love to give a grand excuse for my lack of blogging, but basically, life happened :). We have been crazy busy in our class with field days, field trips, graduation, and more. You name it and we've done it this month!
Last week, I shared a video with some pictures from our class awards/end of the year parent program on Instagram and some sweet ladies asked me to blog about it, so her goes.
Every year I try to have some type of little awards program for parents to come to that ends our year. I love this tradition for many reasons - it lets me see parents and talk to them about their child {something that is hard to do in the chaos of graduation}, it lets parents have a glimpse of our year, and it lets me leave the year on a positive note for each child. The morning of, I set our tables up like this:

At each child's seat there is an end of the year gift for the child, a parent gift, a parent letter, the child's memory book, and a summer pack. Here's a closer look...
For each child's gift, I give them a bucket with extra books that came with old reading packs, a box of crayons, and some math games that we played throughout the year that they can play with their family over the summer.

I put the math games in sheet protectors and give the kids a dry erase marker and dice to play the games. {These games were made by friend Deeanna - I'm trying to get her to put them on TpT :) }

For the parent gift, I take each child's picture, add their favorite things from kindergarten, then put it in a little frame I picked up at Wal-mart. Super easy! The picture is an idea from Katie over at Little Warriors - I love how they turn out! I also add these to the end of my class video.
I also had a letter for the parents at each seat. This is a combination of letters I've seen over the years and I'm not quite sure where it originated. You can grab the letter here. :)
Then, I have the kids' memory books. These are in my TpT store and are so super simple...which isn't that what we all need at the end of the year??? At the beginning of the book, I write each child their own, handwritten letter. It's something that's important to me and I want each child to look back and know they were loved! Then, I put a poem that my 1st grade teacher gave me way back when {so I don't know who originally wrote it}. You can grab the poem here. Following that are the memory book pages. I also add in a DVD of the video I make for our class.













Under the memory book is a summer pack our school sends home with the kids with sight words, math facts, and cold reads to practice for 1st grade.
After the parents look at all the things at their child's seat, we start awards. These are just simple, informal awards, but the kids love them. I give each child a candy award and a general award. The candy awards were an idea from Reagan Tunstall {she has hers free here} and the others are just some I made up. The kids love getting their candy!


After awards, we watch our class video that I make using pictures I take throughout the year. I use iMovie and it is super simple once you try it!

That's about it - we have some simple snacks, then we're done. It is a little bit of work, but most parents are always appreciative and I love doing it for my kids!

Now, I'm off to gear up for our last day tomorrow {that will be full of organizing cumulative records - joy!}

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Little Positivity

So, I've lacked a little in the blogging department lately, but y'all, it's just so dang hard to sit at the computer when the weather is so gorgeous outside!! {Sorry northern friends!} It's been so spring-like here and we are soaking it all in! Side note  - I can't get over these overalls from Target!
Yesterday, I shared a picture on social media of some quote posters I was working on for my principal and y'all wanted them as a freebie, so I'm delivering! I work for an awesome administrator and she's always trying to make our work environment positive, so when she asked me to make some little quote posters for her, I was happy to help! She and I found some of our favorite quotes, then I had them printed at the UPS store, backed them on black cardstock with photo splits, and trimmed them.


Another way we've tried to bring positivity to our school is with this Staff Shout-Out board I made back after Christmas. So often we get caught up in everything negative and lose sight of the positive things people are doing every day. This board is a place for our staff to shout-out someone who has helped them or done something positive for our school. I love going by to look at who has been shouted out! And for all of us who love words of encouragement, it's perfect {I mean, who doesn't like getting a little positive note??}

As you can see, I made little shout out slips to write on, but a post it works just as well! Anything is fine when you're lifting someone else up! We keep the slips in a little bag in our mailbox area...nothing fancy!
If you'd like to set up a shout out board at your school, click below for the pieces. :)
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B07U2jkTYFjJWklUX3ZXUENnREk/view?usp=sharing

If you would like the quotes for your own classroom or school, click below :)
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B07U2jkTYFjJNVhOeVhOd3ZTN2M/view?usp=sharing

I truly hope you can use these...let's bring some positivity into our schools!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

3-D Shape Fun!

The past month, we've been learning all about 3-D shapes and my kids are having a blast! I even had one bring a book to me this morning and say, "There are 3-D solid shapes in this book!" {Insert happy teacher dance!} Here's a little recap of what we've done!
I like to introduce solid shapes the same way every year...with a snack of course!
I give the kids one of each and we talk about the attributes of each and chart before we eat them. For some reason, this really makes those attributes stick and they can immediately tell me how many faces and vertices each shape has.

After this introduction, we focus on a shape a day and work on sorting real life examples. We do this whole group and then on individual cut and paste activity pages.
Then, we review all the shapes together. We practice sorting with my shape sorting cards. When we sort, I make the kids tell me why the shape belongs in a certain group {for example, it has 1 vertice and 1 face shaped like a circle, so it's a cone}.
Probably my favorite thing we do is to make our 3-D shape people. My kids LOVED the 2-D shape people we made in the fall, and they were just as crazy about these! I didn't have time for the kids to make one of each of the shapes we learn, so I made copies of 5 of each shape and laid it out for the kids to pick the shape they wanted.
{I wish I could afford to make everything with cardstock!!}
Now, usually I pre-cut crafts for my kids, but on shape people, I always make them cut so they are working on and noticing the attributes of the shape.

The kids make the shape people by attaching eyes, arms, legs, hands, and feet to the body of their shape. I love these because the shapes are used over and over for the parts of the shape guy!
To finish, the kids write how many faces and vertices the shape has and attach it to their shape.
These little guys are always the perfect culmination of our 3-D shape unit!


If you'd like to check out these activities, you can click the picture below {and hurry while they're on sale today in the big TpT sale!}
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/You-Better-Shape-Up-3D-Shapes-1005348

You can also get this pack bundled with my 2-D shape pack if you need both!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Shape-Up-Bundle-1729250

I'm off to Tampa today to visit a Kagan model school...I am so excited!!