Balanced Literacy: Part One {Reading}

Throughout my 14 years of teaching (holy moly has it been that long!) I have always heard the term "Balanced Literacy" and I've actually heard more than one definition of what exactly it means. So I'm going academic in today's post....maybe I miss those term papers I used to write? I hope this post is at least a little more entertaining than a term paper!

As we move in to Common Core some serious changes are happening...that being said, kids are still kids, words are still words and our brains still work in the same way....

So here is my two cents on the subject of Balanced Literacy:

How do we "balance" all of the components?

Let's break it down.

Balanced Literacy has three main facets:

1. Reading

2. Writing
3. Word Study

And it is important for students to learn all of these skills simultaneously.

Today's post will look look at READING which is made up of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency and vocabulary. This includes:

Reading Aloud {Teacher reads a selection aloud to students}
*Develops vocabulary
*Exposes students to different genres
*Develops listening
*Encourages classroom conversations about text
*Provides adult model of fluent reading

And for the record, read aloud is appropriate at all age levels.  Jim Trelease says, "The first reason to read aloud to older children is to consider the fact that a child's reading level doesn't catch up to his listening level until about eighth grade." This quote and other research on the subject can be found in this article {HERE} I told you I was going academic....referencing data {this really is term paper style today}

Shared Reading {Teacher and students read together}
*Promotes reading strategies
*Rich literature can be used
*Develops fluency and tracking skills
*Can focus on story elements (characters, setting, plot)
*Students practice taking turns

Sometimes in my kindergarten classroom Shared Reading will include the kiddos echoing me, or chanting poems they are very familiar with as I (or a child) tracks.

Independent Reading {Students read independently}
*Develops fluency
*Vocabulary development
*Builds background and schema
*Problem solves independently {I know... not so much for the really little guys}

"The amount of time students spent in independent reading was the best predictor of reading achievement and also the best predictor of the amount of gain in reading achievement made by students between second and fifth grade." (Anderson, Wilson and Fielding, 1988) OK so 1988 was a lifetime ago and times change... but I think it is so well said and I think it is still true.

And again, for you teachers of the little guys, independent reading can be using very simple emergent texts or "reading" a book a child has memorized...which definitely improves confidence on top of introducing print.

Guided Reading {Teacher and a small group of students read a text at the students' instructional level}
*Encourages independent reading
*Builds confidence
*Works on fluency, sound blending
*Comprehension strategies are introduced

Tomorrow I will talk about the At home connection regarding reading... can you say important?! There will be a few Freebies for your parents too!

July Currently

I'm linking up with Farly for the July Currently... a bit early. But seriously, how is it almost July?! Please summer...slow down!
Oh' boy fourth grade
So here we go:

Listening: I just love the Colbert Report. I like The Daily Show too...both so funny! Today is a Colbert marathon for me because I am way behind...not because I am not up at 11:30pm when it airs, because I am.... but I am on this computer doing who knows what?

Loving: The beach is amazing and I just love being close to it. For me, beach time equals more reading, a time to force me away from this computer I can be a slave to and all that vitamin D I get to soak up! Now to just get rid of this June gloom! {Oh yeah, it's July...problem solved....we hope!}

Thinking: I think I may just take myself on a mini field trip to Hobby Lobby....nothing in particular in mind... but I like to just go there and check it all out.... sometimes I leave with some inspiration.  Plus, I want to buy some chevron fabric for a few bulletin boards... and I have seen a few people share their Hobby Lobby finds on Instagram!

Wanting: OK so I am queen of procrastination and here I go again. As I said above, on my June Currently I wrote the same thing- I want some vacation plans... Ahhhh... it is so 100% typical me to be in the same boat 30 days later. Summer is flying by and I just haven't made a plan! I'm on daily...but the prices just aren't cooperating! So we will see what actually happens. Fingers crossed for a great deal.

Needing: I have only been out of school for a week now, and knowing about my procrastination issue, you are probably not surprised to hear that I have not started any of the summer projects I said I would do. First and foremost,  I want to organize files and books. For me, next year is the big switch to Common Core and so I want to re-categorize things since I anticipate next year being a big year of change.

Tips, Tricks or Hints: I don't want to sound like a broken record.... but just in case you haven't done anything about it yet... Google Friend Connect is leaving us and Bloglovin' is the way forward. I know people are worried about the included... but I was so happy to see I could easily import all the same peeps in about one quick minute. So if you haven't done it yet - you can check out my post about it {HERE} and make that shift.

And if you are feeling the love.... why not follow me too :)

Happy {almost} July!

Five For Friday - June Twenty-eighth

It's Friday and although I always love Friday.... it isn't as exciting during summer break! This is my first  full week off and that is something to celebrate!
It's time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday.... I am a little bit cheating this week because my #1 is technically from last week... but I didn't do my Five for Friday it's coming to you now.

This week I am starting with a video. I was inspired by my friend Michelle at Apples and ABC's, who did all 5 things in video format not too long ago. That won't be happening here, but I am happy with one!

Here is a snip-it from my class end of the year party... Carnival Style:

Last weekend I went to Palm Springs for some pool time and fun with friends....teacher friends that is. In honor of the start of summer, a bunch of us headed out to the desert for temperatures of 100+ and lots of fun...We were so lucky to rent such a fabulous house.

I got my new Color Shape Books on Teachers Pay Teachers! I added them to my All About Colors Unit too! The kids love these and are excited to be reading in September. Now it is time to start prepping them!

I want to get more beach time in. I do live at the beach, in fact I counted how many steps yesterday. It took me 191 steps from my apartment to the beach.

Today is super foggy {yuck!} so this picture isn't too nice... but here is the view from my place...can you see what is at the end of those 191 steps?
And in case you couldn't... this is from earlier in the week:

So my goal is remind myself to appreciate my proximity to the beach and take advantage of it. I mean, my husband and I live in a place the size of a shoebox and we chose that to be close to THIS. 

When I am not at the beach, TpTing or blogging I am playing Candy Crush. It is a bit out of hand and I so can't pass level level annoying! What probably should be more annoying that out of 5 things... Candy Crush makes the cut?! Wow.... 

So I hear this is the last Five for Friday until August 2nd! Don't worry there are some new linkys and other things to keep us all busy. See you soon!

Good bye Google and Hello Bloglovin'

People you have T-minus 4 days to make the switch from Google Friend Connect to Bloglovin'.  I have been in denial about this for a while.....and now here I am with 4 days to go actually dealing with the issue at hand!

I just got this cute little Bloglovin button from Melissa at Common Core and So Much More. She has a great tutorial if you want to add this button to your own blog.

I don't exactly understand WHY Google Friend Connect is going away? But moving forward, it will be Bloglovin' and all those cute little boxes with all those smiles you see on the right of this blog will be gone!

I will say, I like the layout of Bloglovin {so far} you have a clear newsfeed and overall it is very user friendly.

You need to create a Bloglovin' account, which is very easy, and it will ask you if you want to import the blogs you follow on Google. Um, yes please!

If you already have a Bloglovin' account and didn't do that import {sidenote: it's also very easy} just CLICK HERE and you should come to a page that looks like this:

Then you just clock on "Import from Google Reader." It will ask you permission to access your data in Google Reader and next thing you know.... you are done!

If you want to find some more blogs to join - go to Tori's blog. She also has some detailed directions that can help you out.

Good luck... hope to see on Bloglovin'!


Color Shape Book Fun...with a FREEBIE!

This year my plan is to start the school year in a colorful way! Learning about colors that is!
Last week I blogged about language arts pacing for Common Core. I shared a book called Common Core Curriculum Maps. You can check out that post {HERE} It suggests starting kindergarten with a unit titled "A Colorful Time with Rhythm and Rhyme." So friends, that is my plan.

I've started with colors before and at first the parents are skeptical...colors?!? My child already knows all of his colors! And yes, this may be true... but we are going to learn to read, write, spell and even sing about the colors. We are going to learn how to use graphic organizers, sort and categorize as well as have fun {of course!}

I love starting with colors, because the little ones do feel confident about this and that helps them to feel excited and safe in this brand new school they have entered.

I have created emergent readers for all of the color words. They are shape books- just because that is more fun!

These books are are available on Teachers Pay Teachers - on their own {HERE} or as part of my larger "All About Colors" Unit {HERE}

I know, I know... you may not have time to cut out all these books (if you have first graders or you use it at the end of kinder perhaps they can cut their own?) But the other solution is the "half book" version. All the books are available in both a shape and a half book:

Here is a list of the colors available as well as the shape they have [even more information is on the preview on Teachers Pay Teachers}

Below is the yellow shape book and half book as a freebie. Just click on it to download this freebie:

Have a colorful day!


Throwback Thursday Linky

I am linking up with one of my favorite bloggers, Cara Carroll, at The First Grade Parade today! At first I thought....hmmm, should I do this linky...because I don't have that far to "throw back" to, but YES I want to join in the fun.

I was just looking at an old post of mine from last September as I was getting this blog going for the first time and after just a few days of school with my new ocean theme. This year I am planning on sticking with the ocean theme and just updating it a bit. So here is the post.... Under the Sea:

As promised, here are pictures of my ocean themed room!

The two above pictures show you most of my classroom. I am lucky to have a big room! I used various sea animals for the table names and found a stuffed version to hang from each table. On the windows you see the TLC Humpty Dumpty activity. I love all the TLC Nursery Rhyme projects. Actually, I just love everything from TLC! Here is a close up my class rules:
These rules are available for  at my Teachers Pay Teachers store- just click {HERE} It even comes with a fun mini book about the rules. I'm not sure why I took this picture before hanging my last rule... oops!
Ta da!!!!! My very own Deanna Jump Palm Tree in my class library! If you want one of these... go to Deanna Jump's blog and she gives you step by step directions!
My "O-fish-al" business area will be where I post literacy and math centers. It will also be my Focus Wall. Our district asks us to have a focus wall where we post our current learning concepts and standards.
Just a last few pictures!

Common Core Pacing in Language Arts

Every state, every district, every school is at a different place regarding Common Core. My district has been training us this past school year in Common Core.... but this coming September is when we will be implementing least "Phase One." When I say "Phase One" that is because we aren't diving in to the deep end so to speak.
A. We still have to administer the California Standards Test (for grades 2 and up) this coming school year
B. We don't want anyone to drown in Common Core.... so we are cautiously starting in the shallow end.

 So today was the first day of summer break...YAY! But wait.... I was back at work with a committee of teachers designing some Common Core lessons. And yes, it would have been amazing to sleep in and go to the beach today instead, but I am excited to be a part of this process.

 Throughout the past school year this committee has been designing the framework and pacing guide of what the new Common Core Curriculum will look like.  We have always been tied to the pacing set by the publishers, but now we are FREE...very exciting news, but at the same time it is a daunting task. And you see the word "Common Core" everywhere you look, but I don't see a break down of what a complete school year looks like.

There has been one book that has been an incredible resource!! This book lays out the whole school year suggesting 6 themes, each over a 6 week period of time.  I like this! These themes are aligned with science and social studies... like this too!  There are suggested texts listed- both literature and informational texts- and they indicate if it is an exemplar text or even if the book is a text from a writer with other works identified as exemplars. Does this not sound great?  There are also samples of lessons and student objectives are clear and the Common Core standards are listed, of course!

Click the image of the book to go to Amazon...

I needed a bare bones break down for each of these themes suggested in the Common Core Curriculum Maps book. I think I saw this actually on another site, but I am not sure who or if that is even true?!  I wanted to just look at everything in one shot so I typed the theme titles on half sheets. I wrote a few key words under the theme title. I want to use these on buckets to start sorting some of my classroom books and to be able to look at the school year in a glance.

As of now, but the summer is still young, my plan is to use the themes and breakdown set up in this book and then make any needed changes for the next year. There are already a few things that I want to change up, but I love having this as a place to start.

I have typed up the summary of Common Core themes for grades K-2- just click on the picture:

As I dive deeper into this I will share more lessons, pacing guides and information! If you have any books  that you have found useful please share in the comments! 


Parent Volunteer Certificates {Freebie!}

The Queen of Procrastination... that's me.... finally got my parent volunteer gifts organized this weekend.

Here is the final product {The template is a Freebie at the end of this post!}

Let me back up.....
A few weeks ago my school had our annual luncheon for the volunteers. Some {slightly more organized} teachers give their volunteers gifts on this day. I mentioned the luncheon briefly in another post, but it was a salad themed event!

The invites were adorable {compete with a pair of salad tongs!}

Each class helped to decorate:
There was a salad bar...of course!
And even some student entertainment at the end! All in all, a wonderful event!

So now fast forward to the last week of school and that is when I get my act together for the parent gifts. Plan A was to go the succulent route as a few of my blogging buddies had done and then there was plans B though...who even knows! Then I finally decided to make certificates that the students will present to the volunteers this week. I stole this idea from my principal who did a similar thing as gifts to all of us teachers for teacher appreciation.

I needed a gift that was simple and affordable... but still would show how grateful I am for their help. This year I have 15 volunteers.... yes, it's insane! A few help us from home with prep work, but the majority of them are in class running centers once a week. The fact that there are so many was another reason I had to keep the price down {And you will notice, I kept the amount of color ink to a minimum as well}

Here are my supplies:
The best part was when I was buying the lottery tickets 2 people {separately without hearing the other one} asked me, "Do you ever win any money when you buy those things?" I really do hope at least one of my volunteers is a winner winner chicken dinner!

Click the image below to download the template yourself....Sorry but you gotta buy your own Awesome bars and lottery tickets!
Credits for the certificate: Clip art by Scrappin Doodles, Frame by Enlightened Elephant and Fonts by Cara Carroll. The certificate idea is from my principal who gave a similar gift to me... she may have found it on Pinterest!

Five For Friday - June Fourteenth

Let me start off by saying.... I am still NOT on summer break. Yes, it's true! But only 3 more days! I can make it, right? Hope so!

I love linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching for the Five for Friday because I am queen of random {or crazy} things happening in my life. So here is what I have for this week:

We did a play...TODAY! Oh yes, some of you are sleeping in and sipping on lattes and I was in the hectic, but fun chaos, of a kindergarten production. We are doing "The Little Red Hen" and no thanks to the director (me) it was GREAT...mainly to the level of "adorable-ness" of the cast. It was hard to take any pics during the real deal, but here are some from our dress rehearsals:

 Above are my two leading ladies - The "Steal" Eyed Fox and The Little Red Hen
 The Little Red Hen with her baby chicks
The cows, pigs and cats are too lazy and don't help the hen. {I had four of each animal}

And my narrators......dressed as farmers!

My kiddos and I went on a field trip to Trader Joe's yesterday. We walk there and go on a full tour of the store. Love everything about it. The kids love going inside the freezer and getting to use the register. The staff was so good with the kids. If you don't have a Trader Joe's in your area I bet one will be coming soon and you need to check it out. Love that store.

We had a "Grandma Shower" for our principal who will be becoming a grandma for the first time this summer.

The teachers had the students create a book for the new grandma. We thought she could use a little advice from them. As I was typing mine up I laughed and laughed (I shared this on Instagram this week - so sorry for the repeat.... but it's just so funny)

I love the things they come up with! Too funny!

What my week should have included more of ...was working on these puppies....
Yeah, the report card time didn't feature in my week as much as it should have. So it will be a prominent part of my weekend. Cool. But all the detail we are required to enter makes me want to procrastinate even more and do other this post. Did I mention - I always wait until the last minute.

The fifth and final random thing this week is that I did ZERO exercise. Yep, not proud and Nope, I don't  have a picture of me sitting around not getting sweaty and losing calories.... but it's the sad truth. I have to get on that exercise wagon next week! I just keep telling myself... you're almost to summer! You can do it!

Have a great weekend!