All posts by kd094

Be the Change!

Happy Monday!
I came across an article on Facebook late last night. My youngest was up all night coughing so I  decided to hold him and work. The article was about Mindsets and believing in yourself. We have done quite a bit of work on mindsets and how students can influence their own learning. But this article gave a few other mindsets to consider.

  • Belonging to an academic community- belonging to an intellectual community helps students see mistakes and errors as part of the process in learning
  • Belief in the likelihood of success- students need to believe in their ability
  • The work has meaning and value- student tasks need to be relevant to their lives and interests
  • Belief that abilities and intelligence can grow with effort- focus on the joy of completing tasks and the learning that occurred along the way

I encourage you to read the article or at least parts.


A Bigger Future!

Featured image

I came across a tip on vocabulary and wanted to pass it along! It is nothing new and something we do everyday. However, it was a great reminder! Thank you for all you do!

In this time of educational challenges, it can be easier to focus on what is going wrong or the things that are holding us back. Attention and time can be gobbled up by assessments, test scores, student poverty and mobility between schools. So what is it we can do that will help us inspire students and make a difference?

The sister’s blog suggested that we start small. We focus our attention on one research-proven area and this is vocabulary. According to Ken Wesson the very best ways to obtain an expanded vocabulary is through daily reading. This transpires by providing extended amounts of time each and every day for children to read voraciously. Extended reading needs to be steeped in student choice of books and other reading material at their independent reading level.

Featured imageSupporting vocabulary growth also means a concerted effort to read excellent children’s literature aloud each day, highlighting and modeling a love for words, and using those words in conversations with students and in our modeled writing. Reading newspaper articles about current events in both near and faraway places is a powerful way to build vocabulary by learning the names of people as well as about the world situation as a whole. It can also be the foundation for teaching understanding and tolerance.


6 Steps in Vocab article

Daily Five-Sister Site

Six Step Process

Thinking Deeply!

I have been thinking about close reading these last couple of weeks and wanted to share a few tips and strategies that may help in your classroom! This first tip focuses on Visual Thinking Strategies. “A Picture can tell a thousand words!” Have you ever tried VTS in your classroom? This strategy allows students to spend time digging into a photo and discussing it with their peers.

Visual Thinking Strategy: VTS

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) uses art to teach thinking, communication skills,
and visual literacy to young people. Growth is stimulated by three things: looking
at art of increasing complexity, responding to developmentally-based questions,
and participating in group discussions that are carefully facilitated by teachers.

During VTS lessons:
• All students must have ample opportunity to point out what they see
in the art they examine and express their opinions about it.
• Students must know that their thoughts are heard, understood, and
• Students must provide evidence to explain their interpretive
• Students must see that each comment contributes to the group
process of mining the art for multiple meanings.

Take a look at this photo and ask yourself these questions. 

What’s going on in this picture?

What do you see that makes you say that?

What more can we find?

VTS resources:

Close Reading

For a first reading, you want to ask questions that ensure that the students understand and think about the major ideas in the story or article. That means you limit your questions to big ideas or you query information that you think the students might be confused by.

  • ask questions
  • retell
  • Summarize the central message
  • What does the story say?

On the second reading, you want to ask questions that require students to analyze how the text works: why the author made certain choices and what the implications of those decisions would be in terms of meaning or tone.

  • Author’s purpose
  • Story structure
  • Text features
  • Main purpose
  • Dialogue
  • Point of view
  • Meaning
  • Vocab
  • Words
  • Clues
  • How does the text work?

On the third reading, the issue is how does this text connect to your life and your views, critical analysis of quality and value, and how the text connects to other texts.

  • What does the story mean?
  • Meaning from illustrations and words
  • Compare/contrast 2 versions of same story
  • What did we learn?
  • How does this book relate to other books we have read?
  • Analyze visual/multi media elements


This powerpoint helped me develop questions and really helped me get started.
I did not purchase this, but I did use the ideas for my anchor chart.

A Little bit of EVERYTHING!!!

This week I found a few different resources so please excuse my lack of focus and enjoy a little bit of every subject area!

Question starters for kids- get your students speaking and listening to one another

Brain Break conversations!

Kid conversation starters

Math Journals! One thing that has always been a struggle for many of our students is explaining their thinking! We need to give student many opportunities to explain their math thinking. This past week I came across a blog from the Daily Five site!

Math Response Journals!

Students often benefit from writing prompts to help get them started. Here are some examples:

  • I think the answer is ______________ because_____________.
  • A different way to solve this problem is _________________.
  • I don’t understand ________________.
  • The mistakes I most often make are __________ because ________.
  • What I like best is _______________ because _____________.
  • The most important part of solving this problem is to remember ________.
  • What I know about ___________ so far is _______________.
  • I knew my answer was right when _______________.

Apps for Kindergarten and 1st grade! I have not checked all of them out yet so please look at them first. Let me know what you think!

Brain Breaks in the classroom: Move it!

Checks on student learning:

Friday reflection idea. LOVE THIS image only

Great way to end a lesson

Exit slips: Students are assigned a number and write at least one thing they learned and any questions/concerns/confusion. They put their card in their designated pocket and I use as an assessment tool to know what each child specifically needs.


Report cards are done and now we are moving into conferences! I came across a few tips on conferences.

Successful parent-teacher conferences don’t just happen. They require thoughtful preparation. It is a wonderful opportunity to extend lines of communication between home and school, keep parents informed about their children’s progress – both academic and social – and for developing cooperative strategies that can ultimately benefit every student.

  1. Approach Parents with Positive Assumptions

Parents are your friends. They want to partner with you. They want to see their child succeed more than anything else. Parent conferences might be an opportunity for you to surface your beliefs about parents and reflect on them, but when you engage with parents, even if you hold some doubts about them, put those aside. Welcome every parent as your strongest ally in working with your student (their child).

  1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

What is your goal or objective for the time you have with parents? What exactly do you want to communicate? What would you like the outcome of this meeting to be?

Here’s an example: My goal in Maria’s conference is for her mom to see the growth she’s made in writing this fall and to determine some ways that she can be more organized. I also want to hear her mom’s perspective on the social challenges she’s dealing with.

Then prepare your materials. Have notes, tests, and work samples, but plan exactly what you want to share. Don’t just sit down with parents and open a massive folder bursting with student work. Put Post-It notes on the items you want to share, select the best examples of the growth, and jot down a few notes.

  1. Be Solution-Oriented

Be specific when asking for change. Telling a parent, “He’s distracted a lot,” is useless. What is the parent (who isn’t sitting next to her child all day) supposed to do with that piece of information? How can she help her child or the teacher?

Whatever support you ask from a parent needs to be something that is within her sphere of influence. Asking a parent: “Can you talk to him about being more focused?” is possible, and parents can talk and talk, but the results might be limited.

A teacher could say: “I’m concerned because your son is often distracted during independent work in my class. Here’s what I’m doing to try to help him…Do you see this behavior at home ever? Do you have any other ideas for things I could try? Can you think of anything you might be able to do?”

Always convey a growth mindset. All behaviors can change given the right conditions. If you want to see changes and have concerns about a student, be prepared to offer specific, actionable solutions.

  1. Take the Opportunity to Learn

Listen carefully to parents. If you’re nervous, you will tend to “take over” the conversation—by as much as 90 percent. Try for a 50-50 balance.

What could you ask parents that might help you better support your student? What would you like to know? If this is the first time you’re sitting down with parents, it’s a great opportunity to hear their perspective on their child’s school experience so far, on what their child likes to do outside of school, on the questions and concerns they have about their child, and so on. So what do you want to ask?

  1. Show that You Care

For parents, conferences can be terrifying or wonderful.

Don’t underestimate the power of the positive, and lead with it. Be specific in the positive data you share. Make sure you truly feel this positivity — we can all sniff out empty praise. There is always, always something positive and praise-worthy about every single child. It’s your job to find it and share that data with parents.

  1. Show Your Manners

Greet parents in a positive manner with a smile and a handshake. Don’t conduct the conference at the teacher’s desk. Always end a conference on a positive note! Don’t just dismiss parents from the table. Stand up with them and personally escort them to the door with a smile, a handshake, and thank them for coming.

  1. Don’t be the Star of the Show

Try to start off the conference with “What questions do you have for me?  I want to make sure we make this time together valuable.”  I have found that parents really appreciate starting the conference by opening up the floor to them.  It is my belief that if a parent is coming in with a question or a concern, it’s going to be the only thing on their mind regardless of what I’m saying, so it’s better to start with it right off the bat.  That, and sometimes a concern that parents have is more worthy of your 20 minutes together than discussing data.

Conference tip sheet

Parent teacher conference sheet

Conference blog– great blog that has many resources for students to fill out

A Few Tidbits!

It is hard to believe that the 1st quarter is over! Please let me know if you need any support with report cards or 1st quarter grading! It was an amazing first quarter!

Please make sure you check the essentials guide for writing. There were a few changes made to writing. Here is the new order!

Kindergarten- Narrative

1st Grade- Information

2nd Grade- Information

3rd Grade- Information

4th Grade- Opinion

5th Grade- Information

Here are few of the resources from the Sept. 29 in-service to help you analyze student work and set goals for learning.

New Resources!

Nonfiction Detectives– How to Identify a good piece of nonfiction text?

Conference Time- Chatting with parents- Here are a few tips to help you prepare for conferences.

Travel Logs- Here is a short video and tips on student created textbooks

Guided Reading!

October 3, 2014

This is a great teacher resource!  The Next Step in Guided Reading: Focused Assessments and Targeted Lessons for Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader

According to Fountas and Pinnell, guided reading is an instructional setting that enables you (the teacher) to work with a small group of students to help them learn effective strategies for processing text with understanding. The purpose of guided reading is to meet the varying instructional needs of all the students in your class, enabling them to greatly expand their reading powers. Guided reading gives the students the opportunity to read at their just right level, which means that the book provides them with a moderate challenge. You choose selections that help students expand their strategies.
How do I do it?
1. Student should be divided in small groups. They are grouped with students who are similar in ability, needs, and strengths.
2. Guided reading lessons are to be about 15-20 minutes in duration.
3. Appropriately leveled reading materials must be selected and each child should have his/her copy of the literature.
4. Pre-Reading: The teacher established a purpose for reading and provide the readers with the background knowledge required for the text.
5. During Reading: The teacher observes the students as they read the text softly or silently to themselves. The teacher provides guidance and coaching to individual students based on his/her observations by providing prompts, asking questions, and encouraging attempts at reading strategies. Also the teacher could be conducting a running record using the conferring form.
6. Post Reading: Set goals for student(s) to use during independent reading or read to self time.
Here is a link to a resource page. There are resources for every grade level.

Teaching is a Journey!

Do you ever feel like you work and work and you never feel caught up? Teaching is a journey! I am not sure in education we will ever feel like we are caught up or like our work is complete! Instead, we need to embrace the journey and enjoy the ride.