Thursday, November 1, 2012

Assessments, Assessments, Assessment!!!

Are you in the midst of crazy amounts of assessments?! We are too!! I also try to create my own tools to save time, and I'm here to show off some of these tools, along with some of my ideas!

At my school, we use the Fountas and Pinnell BAS Tests to assess reading levels, so I've created a few templates to use along with these for a couple reasons: to save time, paper, and energy!!!  

These templates I created to match the Foutas & Pinnell BAS Assessments but can really be used by any teacher for running records. 

The first two pages are standard running record form, with the addition of a strategies box at the bottom, the final page has boxes for teachers to record accuracy rate, fluency rate, and comprehension scores. 

This template specifically matches the Fountas & Pinnell BAS Assessments for the levels A-K and this template matches the assessments for levels L-Z (due to changes in the comprehension scoring). 

What I do then is the following... I created a binder with a page of my template for each student. I record the running record on my template page - including marking strategies I noticed students using, rating a fluency score, calculate the accuracy and self-correcting rate, and noting the student's comprehension. 

I then keep a copy of the F&P running records for each level A-Z in my binder as well. I refer to these pages for the specific questions for comprehension and the calculations for the accuracy score. 

Please contact me with any questions, this turned out a bit more complicated sounding then I intended...! Please check out my templates and leave me a rating if you purchase/use them!

Have a great Friday :-) Amanda

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Word Work Ideas

Hello friends!! It's been a long time! 

I never anticipated the HUGE change I would feel when moving grade levels. At the end of last school year, I had second graders.. second graders who were almost ready for third grade!! Fast forward through the busy but lazy summer.... I meet my new (WONDERFUL) class of firsties - but they seem to be a bit more like Kindergarteners!! This all translates to me, feeling a bit crazy! 

I absolutely love my first graders, I love teaching first grade, it's just taking a while to adjust. 

Anyway, my firsties seem to need a lot of practice with word work. I've set up stations and a rotation for my kiddos to use during my guided reading time. Each rotation is about 15 minutes, with about 4 students at each station. 

My rotations include:

  • Read to Self
  • Read to Buddy (or "stuffed buddy" - they love this!)
  • Listen to Reading - Listening center and Computers on ABCya or Starfall
  • Wikki-Stix
  • Magnet Letters
  • Salt Boxes
  • Letter Stamps
  • and most recently PLAY-DOUGH!!!!
So my post today is to walk you through the recipe that I used to make my play-dough!

Ingredients include: 
1 c. White Flour
1/4 c. Salt
2 Tbsp. Cream of Tarter

1 c. Water
1 Tbsp. Oil
1 tsp. food coloring

Combine all ingredients in a pot on medium heat and stir. 

It will start looking nasty and clumpy [yes, that's the technical term ;)] It kind of smells at this point too! 

It will only take 3-5 minutes before it starts to clump into one solid ball.

Turn out the ball of play-dough onto a floured table-top. Knead the ball to work out the stickiness; use floured hands. The color will lighten up.

Each "batch" made one large ball or two orange-sized balls of play-dough. I made three batches [purple, green and blue] and separated each batch into 2. 

I packaged each ball into a separate zip-lock bag. I am looking for the *PERFECT* sized containers to store these in; ones that are easy enough for 5, 6, and 7 year olds to open and close on their own. Students will use play-dough to spell out their spelling and word wall words. This play-dough is "edible" but NOT tasty... so hopefully to deter students from snacking while they spell!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Being handy!!

So, my latest project... 

Started with an awesome garage sale find ($20 for the bench and bins w/ casters):
I sanded down all the surfaces with an orbital sander so that the paint would take. 

Then, I painted the bench with a textured grey spray paint, and then again with a solid grey paint. Gave it a great texture which will hopefully keep dents from showing!!

 Then... I painted the boxes blue!! I left the insides their original color (pink/purple) because you wont really see it!
Enlisted my wonderful hubby to help with the construction parts.. :) Using OSB we made an "H" frame to fit inside each box... this frame will hold the cushion up to the top of the box. Hubby is cutting with a Circular Saw:

And I am cutting the slots with a Jig Saw!

 Didn't take any pictures of the upholstering process, but I basically upholstered (with foam, thick ugly fabric and thinner cutsie fabric) a rectangle piece of OSB. These cushions fit right inside each bin, and is supported by the "H" frame. *Also, used a hole cutter (drill with a giant circular drill "bit" on the end) to cut two holes in the back. 
I plan to use this in my computer area, the 2 monitors, keyboards and mice/mice pads will be on the bench top, while the towers will be tucked underneath. The holes in the back of the bench are for the cords to pass through. 

I just LOVE it, but what do you think?? Any crafty blogger friends out there? 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Craft of the day!

Reading is TOAD-ally awesome, especially when your classroom has a great reading bench!! 

I was inspired by Pinterest (original pin and post by Ms. G in Grade 3, found here ) to make a bench out of crates for my classroom. 

How did I do it? Found crates for $3 at Target. It doesn't matter that they are cheap, the weight of a child sitting on the bench is not put on the individual crates. Got the fabric from my mom - she made me some great curtains when I first started teaching, and had lots of cute teacher fabric left over. Using zip ties, I connected the three crates together - it only took about 6 large zip ties. Next I cut a piece of OSB wood to fit over the top, with a little bit hanging over the edges. I actually upholstered the wooden piece twice - once with an ugly but tough fabric, and a second time with my cute frog fabric (which is a little bit more light-weight). The bins are Martha Stewart from Home Depot or Lowes (can't remember..) 2 for $8.

Here's my final project, what do you think?? 
 Do you have any great furniture in your classroom that you love? 


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Classroom Updates

Ok, so I am totally over the whole moving classrooms thing (three times in three years) BUT I do have to say that each time I move, I get a little more organized with my classroom, I get a chance to be in a different part of the school, I get to try out another room and I find wonderful things that I had forgotten about! :) 

Most recently, I found an old plastic set of drawers. They were dusty, grimy and kind of gross. The plastic drawers that are supposed to be transparent... are not so see-through anymore! As soon as I found it, I was inspired (by Pinterest of course!!) 

I went to Hobby Lobby to find some scrapbook paper. I wanted some fun designs that kind-of matched. This is what I picked:
Four designs - I bought a bunch of each kind: dots, bunting, monsters and ABCs. 

Then I got to work with some Mod Podge. I ended up covering the front and sides of each drawer, plus I put one page on the top of the whole unit, because like I said, this set of drawers was pretty icky...! 
Here's my final product!! What do you think??

I think they turned out pretty cute, and to be honest, I am just glad that I started and finished my project!! 

Have a great Sunday,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Calling all teachers of FIRSTIES! :)

Well I am super pumped to be teaching first grade this year!! I just LOVE first grade, something magical happens there! In Michigan, we are implementing coooooooommon core! Are you? So far we have standards for ELA and Math. We're still using GLCEs (Grade Level Content Expectations) for Science and Social Studies. 

Every year, I always print off the standards and they are just so lengthy, or wordy, or in some weird format... so this year, I created checklists for each subject - Reading/Literacy, Writing, Math, Science and Social Studies. All the standards are listed, with a shorter, para-phrased meaning along with a place to mark the date and lesson/unit when the standard was focused on. I plan to put these into my subject binders and refer back to them for planning. This is my very first NOT-free TPT item... so, please, if you're interested, it's only $1 for all the subjects, buy them?! I don't usually beg ask but this is my first one and I am so hopeful that it sells! They are so-not-creative, just excel spreadsheets turned PDF files, but the font is pleasant and they work for me, so I hope they work for you :-)

As a preview, AND because you're all so wonderful, here's the Writing Standards checklist as a freebie! 

Happy Friday, all!! 


Thursday, July 5, 2012


I won't pretend that I've been trying really hard to get caught up on my blog... in fact I haven't even checked out my FAVORITE blogs in like weeks!! Since school ended, I spent a few days moving my classroom (back downstairs, just down the hall from my first classroom two years ago), I co-led a mission trip of 32 high school students from my church to Marquette, MI to work on three Habitat for Humanity Homes, I traveled for a second time to Marquette with my husband and a friend to do some more work on the houses a week later, and I've helped my parents begin building their garage that we demolished over Memorial Weekend. WHEW. Is it summer for real yet??

Today was the first day that felt like I am truly "off" work, and I spent 5 hours this morning trying to get organized for my first graders... yes, first grade! I am so very excited to move back down to first grade for next year, just love those firsties!! I do have to admit, I didn't JUST work today... I also began shopping with my birthday money from my hubby, parents and in-laws. Got a great pair of running shoes (hopefully they will encourage me to get up and run in the mornings) and a fantastic one-shoulder bl
black dress for a friend's bachelorette party only 1.5 weeks away..!

I really did miss blogging, as you can see my first paragraphs have nothing to do with blogging, sigh... I just had to catch you all up on my life (cause I know you're dying to know everything I've been up to!)

OK. but now I need some help. My first year teaching, I taught a 1st/2nd split class... and being in my first year, I really had no clue what I was doing, I mean I tried my best, and they all turned out ok, but looking back... I was very unorganized. :-/ Last year I moved to 2nd grade, which was great, but I also got married last summer (so another excuse to be unorganized)... but now, I'm breaking the cycle. I WILL be organized! I am having a hard time prioritizing my time though. I want to begin unit planning and long-term planning - what is the best way to do this though? Do you use calendars? Separate binders for each topic, or all your planning together in one place? How detailed are your plans before the school year begin?

Being that I am moving to a new room and a new grade, are there any things you wish you had done "in the beginning" that would have helped organizational-wise.. does that even make sense?

I also want to make sure my classroom is organized. At the moment, all my belongings are shoved into my closet space, and hopefully in a few weeks I can get into my room to organize. Does anyone have any brilliant organizational suggestions.

Where do I start??? Well... this post was not so productive... I swear, my next post will actually have something of importance, not just spewing questions LOL :)

Glad to be back! Hope you're all having the most wonderful summers!!!