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Feedback Frenzy! Earn points to spend during the TPT sale

The TPT sale is coming up!  Head on over to TPT and leave feedback on all of your past purchases so that you will have lots of TPT credits to spend during the sale.
 Join us on Monday and Tuesday 12/1 & 12/2 to save on your purchases.
My store will be 20% off and you can save an additional 10% when you use the code: TPTCYBER

School Circle: Parent Communication Made Easy

SchoolCircle - a great way to connect & stay organized Now it's easier than ever to stay connected with parents As a teacher, I know how hard it can be to communicate effectively with parents, on top of everything else you have to do. So I was thrilled to learn about SchoolCircle, an online application that makes it SO much easier for teachers and parents to communicate. With SchoolCircle, teachers sign up and create private "circles," and then invite all the parents in the class to be part of the circle.  Teachers can send updates, share photos, upload homework, ask for parent volunteers or supplies, and create event reminders - just about everything you'd want to share.   Plus, teachers and parents can send private messages to each other easily, without having to look up addresses in a directory. The interface is very intuitive, and even the least tech-savvy teacher or parent can figure out how to use it in minutes.  And I do not have to worry about privacy or security – I see exactly who is in my circle, and I know that all the communication I send will only be visible to members of my circle. Here are some things I love about SchoolCircle: It's so easy to get started You can get your entire class started with your own private circle in under 5 minutes.  Here are the steps:
  1. Create a free teacher account at com
  2. Create a private circle for your class
  3. Invite parents to join the circle instantly
Then you and your class will have a private online circle where you can communicate.  What could be easier than that? It’s easy to communicate with parents Once you’re signed in, it’s incredibly easy to share all kinds of information with parents – post announcements, upload homework or other documents, share photos, and schedule events.  It’s basically a one-stop-shop for everything you want to communicate with your parents. You don’t have to worry about information getting lost, or parents asking you to re-send materials  – everything is at their fingertips. As a teacher, you have a choice of whether you want parents in the class to comment on your announcements, so you are always in control.  Allowing comments can be super useful when parents ask clarifying questions and everybody sees the answers – this way, you don’t have to reply to a lot of similar emails from parents. It’s easy to communicate one-on-one For more private communication, SchoolCircle also has a feature where you can message one-on-one with a parent, and where parents can message with each other.  You don’t have to look up parents’ email addresses in a directory – just click on the parent’s name in your class roster, and start a conversation with them. You can even attach files (like progress reports or photos) to your message.   The conversations you have with individual parents are only visible to you and the parent, not to other parents in the circle. teacher-parent conversation Getting volunteer signups is a snap As a teacher, I love that SchoolCircle makes it easy for me to mobilize parents to get the help I need with volunteering and supplies.  Parents get notified automatically whenever I create a new volunteer signup, and they get reminded automatically before the event, so I don’t have to worry about whether they are going to remember to show up.  No more paper signups, or pleading for parent volunteers.  And now that the signups are so much easier, it’s no longer just the small core group of parents doing the heavy lifting.  A lot more parents volunteer at the school, and I don’t need to tell you how much the kids love seeing their parents help out in the classroom! The right amount of communication SchoolCircle has really put a lot of thought into how to inform parents about what’s going on, without it being too overwhelming.  We’ve all experienced the pain of “reply all” emails – which makes parents start to tune out to all communications, even the ones I send.  With SchoolCircle, unless I specifically request that something be delivered immediately, everything is summarized in one convenient daily digest in the evening, and one early morning reminder email about what is needed today.  That way, parents don’t get bombarded by excessive emails, making them more apt to pay attention to the info that I want them to get.  No matter how many kids a parent has, or how many different circles they belong to, everything is summarized in just one daily digest email. I met the SchoolCircle team at a recent teacher conference, and I appreciated their passion for helping teachers get their students’ parents more involved at school.  They are constantly improving the product and adding more features to it, while keeping the interface very simple and intuitive. Try it now! There are a lot of super cool features in SchoolCircle, and it really makes communicating with parents so much easier.  Try it, you're going to LOVE it!  

How to Catch a Turkey! Procedural Writing

I love doing procedural writing with Kinders.  
They always have the cutest ideas for How to do things.   We made a turkey and wrote about how to catch him.  
The example above says,  
First, you get a net.
Next, hide in the bushes.
Then, you catch him.

To make the turkeys use Crayola Markers to color a coffee filter.
Then use an eyedropper to drop a few drops of water on it to make the colors run together.

Glue the turkey body on top of the coffee filter and then
use scrap paper pieces to make his beak and feet.

This is the perfect writing activity to do this time of year because we are usually smack dab in the middle of our How To Writing unit from our Writing Through the Year series.  

Here's a writing sample from one of the Littles.
NOTE:  The typed words were added for the blog.
I don't type or write over their writing because I want them to know that I love and hold precious their spelling approximations!  They are authors and I don't want them to feel like I am devaluing their work.

I just love kindergarten writing. Don't you?

If you struggle with HOW to teach writing to little ones then you should check out our Writing Through the Year units on TPT.  Deedee and I have done all of the work for you.  From daily scripted mini lessons to anchor charts and rubrics.  We have used these units in our classroom for several years and we are amazed at the thinking and writing our students are able to do.

Book Talk Tuesday: Otis and the Scarecrow

Have you met Otis?  He is an adorable little tractor and your kids will love him!
In this series of books, Loren Long does a beautiful job of showing the students what it means to be a friend.  
Otis the tractor lives on a farm and the farmer has just introduced someone new... a scarecrow to shoo away the crows.  Otis and the animals go out to greet the scarecrow with their friendly smiles, but the scarecrow doesn't return the smile and his frown never leaves his face.  Eventually everyone stops trying to be friends with the scarecrow and they just leave him alone.
Then one day, when it is cold and rainy Otis and the animals snuggle close and play Otis's favorite game; the quiet game.  It's hard for the animals to sit still so soon they are laughing and giggling and basking in the warmth of their friendship.  During this time Otis looks out and sees the scarecrow standing all alone and he realizes that sometimes you have to be the one to reach out and be a friend no matter what.  So he and the animals go out into the field and snuggle close with the scarecrow.

This is a wonderful book about compassion and doing what's right.  The perfect fall book and a springboard for character lessons in the classroom.  

Let's Talk Turkey Glyphs!

So what is a glyph anyway?
The term "glyph" comes from the Ancient Egyptian times when they used pictures in order to tell a story.
When I create a glyph I start with three (and only three) questions.
You want to stick to three questions so that it won't be overwhelming for the little ones when you try to analyze the glyphs and create data charts.

Each answer can be determined by looking at a child's turkey.
For example,  If I look at the turkeys above me I can see that three of the children are staying home for Thanksgiving and two of them are going out of town.
I can tell this because of the way they made their legs.

I also love to integrate language arts by having them complete a glyph book that they can read and share with their family.  These turkeys make adorable shelf sitters or centerpieces on their Thanksgiving table.

They also look cute if you forego the paper bag and just make them flat.
My friend Deedee Wills saw these in the hallway at her school and snapped a picture for me.
Thanks, Deedee!

The one below is my fave!! So much character!!

After your sweeties have assembled their turkeys make sure that you take that next step and analyze and record the data.  This is a great way to do math that is authentic and meaningful!
It's math about them!  

These are included in my Thanksgiving unit that has been completely revised!
This unit is packed full of enough stuff to get you through the month of November.
You can check them out by clicking on the cover below.

Math Workshop {handouts with FREEBIES}

Math lessons Workshop for Kindergarten and First grade students.

Hey friends,  I hope that you are enjoying your weekend!  This is a recap of the session that I did on Thursday at the SDE Kindergarten Conference here in Florida.  In this session I explained how Deedee Wills and I structure the lessons in our math units so that the kids gain a deeper understanding of the math concepts that we are teaching.  
Our lessons follow a 5 step process as outlined below.

Click Here to download the handouts from this session as well as a one day lesson from our Guiding Kinders Math units and a free set of Tally Mark Fluency Cards.

If you like how we have our Math lessons organized you can check them out by clicking on the images below.  We have them available as individual units as well as a money saving bundle.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog!  Make sure you download the handouts from my session.
It includes a few freebies!

P.S. We also have the fluency cards available by themselves.


Alphapalooza Session handouts

Hey There!  I had a great time presenting my Alphapalooza session today in Orlando, Florida.
I promised the participants that I would share the handouts and some of the slides from the session.   So here goes.... :)

Spot the sounds is a fun small group game for identifying where sounds are heard in words.

Three in a Row fun!

Use the names of your students to work on identifying letters and their sounds.


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