Monday, March 26, 2012

FREE Smart Board Monday

I created a fun game for your Smart Board just in time for Easter!  The Common Core Standard is to work with numbers to 10.  So, this game could be used with Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st grade, or as an RTI (Response to Intervention) activity with 2nd grade students.  It is called the "Easter Egg Ten Frame Game" and is for working with subtraction using a 10 frame.  Here is a picture of what it looks like:

Click here to download this FREE activity.  Spread the word or help pin it to Pinterest!  Click on "Follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers" under Kathy Griffin to get updates when I post new activities.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Learning the Vowels and Common Core

Teaching those pesky vowel sounds in the early childhood classroom can be challenging. Students must learn the difference between a consonant and vowel, the sounds for each vowel, and that every word must have a vowel.  These concepts can be abstract for our little learners.  So why not make it fun by making vowel flags, singing a song, marching around the room, and ending the activity with a vowel hunt.  


Today's post will show how I teach the short vowel sounds in my classroom, and at the end of this post, I will show the correlation and connection to the Common Core Standards. I first play the song "I Know My Vowels" from my CD "Growing Dendrites with Kathy Griffin" (c) Copyright 2011.  Sometimes we watch the multimedia file on our interactive whiteboard or Smart Board, and sometimes I just play the song on the CD player depending on the objective.  Here is a sample of the multimedia file:
video
Interested in purchasing the multimedia file for your Smart Board, Interactive Whiteboard, or student computers for $3.00?  Click here for a link to it on my TpT store.
Want to purchase the mp3 version of this song for $1.00?  Click here for a link to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

We decorate our "vowel flags."  The children personalize their flag for next activity.
I hot glue a Popsicle stick to the back of the flag.  We turn the song on again and use our flags for marching around the room to the song.  The children love to wave their flags while they sing.  This is a picture of one of my students with her flag.  
We keep our flags in our desks and use them for several activities over a few weeks and then bring them back for review.  I have three different recording sheets that go with the song/flag activity.  I differentiate the activity depending on the needs of my students.  The recording sheets look like this:
The focus is to locate words, write them in the appropriate column, and highlight the vowel.

Differentiating for students who are ready to find words with blends.  The focus is to locate the words, write them in the appropriate column, and highlight the vowel.

Differentiating for students who are ready to add word endings which is part of the Common Core Standards. Students locate words with vowels that have the word endings listed on the recording sheet and write them in the appropriate column.  Students may also locate words and then add the word endings too.
We use our flags frequently as we learn, practice, and review our vowel sounds.  On the last time through, I have the students record the words they find that contain the vowels directly on their flag.  When they are finished, they take their vowel flags home for a home-school connection. Here is a sample of one of my flags along with the directions. Click here to download a copy of the vowel flags and recording sheets.

Cut the sheet into 2 flags, hot glue or tape (packaging tape works best) to the back of the flag.
The pictures below show how I differentiate the activity to meet the needs of my students.  Sometimes we make vowel flags for the short vowel sound, and other times we focus on finding words that make the long vowel sound or they "say their name."

Do you like this vowel activity?  It is part of the "I Know My Vowels Activity Pack" from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.   Click here to view it on Teachers Pay Teachers. Click Download Preview at the top of the TpT page to see more activities from the packet.


You can also purchase the book set for guided reading or use as a "Just Right Book" for book boxes. Click here for a link to the book set on my TpT store.


Common Core
So exactly how and where does "learning the vowels" fall within the Common Core Standards?
For Kindergarten:
English Language Arts Standards: Language
Conventions of Standard English
L.K.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
*Write a letter or letters for most consonant and short-vowel sounds (phonemes).
*Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.
Reading: Foundational Skills
Phonological Awareness
RF.K.2. Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
*Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable words.
*Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words.
Phonics and Word Recognition
*Demonstrate basic knowledge of letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary or most frequent sound for each consonant.
*Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.
For 1st Grade:
English Language Arts Standards: Language
Conventions of Standard English
L.1.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
*Spell untaught words phonetically, drawing on phonemic awareness and spelling conventions.
Phonological Awareness
RF.1.2 Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
*Distinguish long from short vowel sounds in spoken single-syllable words.
*Isolate and pronounce initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in spoken single-syllable words.
*Segment spoken single-syllable words into their complete sequence on individual sounds (phonemes).
Phonics and Word Recognition
RF. 1.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
*Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.



Friday, March 16, 2012

Nonfiction Text Features & Common Core

There is a lot of discussion going on about aligning our teaching and curriculum with the Common Core.  I have been doing a lot of research on the subject and pouring over the information on their website.  So here is my position on the Common Core:  It's just good teaching practices.  I decided to take a look at what I am currently doing in the classroom and how it stacks up to the Common Core.  For future blog posts, I will make a connection and reference to the Common Core to help teachers realize what we are already doing that matches with the Common Core and some ways to meet the standards. 


My class is working with nonfiction text features as we enter the first phase of our next inquiry project - Ocean Life/Habitats - after spring break.  We are creating an anchor chart modeled after The Comprehension Tool Kit for K-2 by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis. It is a work in progress that will continue over the next 3 weeks.  The following shows the chart we have been creating over the past 2 days.  We use Scholastic Readers, and I am able to show the interactive version on our Smart Board.  When we were finished, we cut one of our "magazines" apart to show the nonfictions features the magazine used.  Later in the day, we worked in small groups to identify the nonfiction features in our "magazines."  I save the extra Scholastic Readers every year and laminate them to use for this activity.  This gives us multiple versions on various topics.  I cut Post-it-Note labels into small strips to help color-code their findings.  The students used our anchor chart to help identify and label these features.  My 1st grade students LOVED it!  It was also great fine motor practice too.

Building an Anchor Chart

Sticky Post-it-Labels cut into strips for identifying nonfiction text features



Cooperative Learning:  Identifying nonfiction text features - photographs

We found photographs, illustrations, and labels.

We found more illustrations.  But wait!  The question at this table became, "Are there illustrations in the photographs?"  After looking at the Scholastic Magazine, they were right!  And they were so excited they discovered this on their own.  This led to a conversation about why the author would do that.  Cooperative learning at its finest:)
Update 11/20/12:  I have created a unit along with 2 multimedia files, 2 Power Points,  2 songs, and a 124 page unit to help teach nonfiction text features to our students.


Click HERE to view the blogpost about it.


This Post included:
Common Core for Kindergarten:
 English Language Arts Standards - Reading - Informational Text
Key Ideas and Details RI. K.1, RI. K.2, RI. K.3
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas RI. K.7, K.9
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity RI. K.10


Common Core for 1st Grade: English Language Arts Standards - Reading - Informational Text
Key Ideas and Details RI. 1.1, RI. 1.2, RI. 1.3
Craft and Structure RI 1.4, RI 1.5, RI 1.6
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas RI. 1.7, RI. 1.8, RI. 1.9
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity RI. 1.10

Common Core for 2nd Grade:  English Language Arts Standards - Reading - Informational Text
Craft and Structure RI. 2.4, RI. 2.5, RI. 2.6






Sunday, March 11, 2012

FREE Smart Board Sunday Word Sort

It's FREE Smart Board Sunday!  Do you need a Smartboard word families sort for whole group lessons or as a literacy center? This word sort can be used independently or as a complement to "Five Word Families" from the CD and the multimedia files "Growing Dendrites with Kathy Griffin" (c) Copyright 2011.
Sort the words by their ending word pattern.  Use the picture clues for as an added anchor.

Sort the words by their ending word pattern.  Use the picture clues for as an added anchor.

Sort the words by their ending word pattern.  Use the picture clues for as an added anchor.

Sort the words by their ending word pattern.  Use the picture clues for as an added anchor.


Sort the words by their ending word pattern.  Use the picture clues for as an added anchor.

Use this file as a literacy center.  When your students get to this page, they know their turn is over.

Click HERE for the FREE Smartboard Download.

Click HERE to see how I use the multimedia file on YouTube.

Click HERE to see the multimedia file for the Smart Board, Interactive Whiteboard, or student computer on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click HERE to view the Game & Activity pack on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click HERE to see the book set on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click HERE to listen to a clip of the mp3 song on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Thanks for stopping by!  If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Raising a Child with Special Needs

Tonight's post comes from the heart and is dedicated to my beautiful daughter, Tessa.  It comes from the personal side that I experience from raising a child with Down Syndrome, diabetes, Celiac Disease, and a thyroid disorder.  And for all of the teachers out there that go the extra mile, work those extra hours, ponder how to modify lessons to include our children, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  


It's that time of the year again for many parents of children with special needs.  It's either IEP time or time to think about the placement of where our children will be the next year. Change is hard for everyone.  Yet, change is especially hard for parents who have a child with special needs.  We have to trust that schools make the right choice in placing our children with the right teacher and the right amount of services.  And as Tessa nears the end of her education with one year to go in the public school system, I find myself looking back at the long road we travelled to get to this place. It hasn't always been easy.  We've had our share of "good times" and "challenging times."  But ultimately, we have travelled down a path that led my daughter to many wonderful friends, peers, and teachers. 


I wrote this very personal poem last year and had kept it tucked away in "My Documents" on my computer. I looked at it the other day and decided that maybe it was time to share with others. So here is a very personal glimpse into my life and how hard IEP meetings can be for parents. And let's never forget that behind every student, there is a family that deserves our respect and support.
My beautiful daughters Tessa and Brandi




So for all of the teachers who will be attending IEP's this spring and next fall, here is a strategy for working with families of children with special needs.  Make a mental picture of this poem and remember how hard "IEP Day" can be on parents.  Then think of 3 positive things about your students with special needs in your class and share it with their families.  Thank you for caring and giving so much every day.


Thanks for stopping by.  Tomorrow is FREE Smart Board Sunday!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Listening Strategies that Work

I was in travel mode this week with a quick trip to present at the Pennsylvania Kindergarten Conference in Harrisburg, PA, so I didn't have time to blog.  Today's post is an anchor chart that I use in my classroom (minus the clip art) to help my children learn strategies to use when they "have the wiggles."  I spoke about these strategies at my session on Recognizing Red Flags and working with students with special needs in the early childhood classroom.  This anchor chart shows the strategies my students use to help them listen during group time.  I should have a listening strategy song and book released this summer to go with the chart.  Until then, have your students learn these strategies a few at a time and use when they "have the wiggles."  They can work miracles with all of the students in your classroom from Pre-K to 2nd grade.  My suggestion:  Add clipart or student drawings beside the strategies to help nonreaders.  If you have any questions about the individual strategies, let me know. Just think of all the ways adults sit still during meetings.  We doodle on paper, cross our legs, play with our hair, wiggle our thumbs, tap our fingers, etc . . .



UPDATE:  I now have a activity and song packet on Teachers Pay Teachers for these strategies.  Click HERE to take you to the blog post about my new packet and to listen to the songs. 




Thanks for stopping by!