Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wow is it busy!

Wow! I was thinking this morning "I haven't blogged in a few days" and when I checked this evening, it has been 9 days!  YIKES!

Things have been so crazy with it being the last week of school.  Tuesday we had field day and the talent show.  I love the talent show, it's just so stinking cute!  One group of 2nd grade boys had a talent in the show and in the program it was labeled "Art".  They literally got up on the stage with an easel and drew a picture of a car on a road with a building and a sun in the sky.  There was no music or any fanciness to it but they were so proud of their work!  It was so cute and where else would that ever be cute or funny! I just loved it.  There was lots of dancing and some singing and even some jump roping to Hannah Montana!  I wish I could share some pictures with you but I forgot to take my camera. 

Tuesday night, the Hubs and I went to the Dave Matthews concert so needless to say, Wednesday was a very long day but thankfully we just had parties with popcorn, my End of the Year Questionnaire and they received their awards.  I purchased Candy Awards from Reagan at Tunstalls Teaching Tidbits.  You can purchase your own set here.  They absolutely loved them!  Today was full of finishing progress reports and getting all the paperwork done for the company I work for.  

Tomorrow is the last day of school and we finish at noon.  I plan on spending the rest of the afternoon packing up and getting my room closed up because I honestly do not want to go back in next week to finish it!  I am moving rooms next year which I am super excited about so that takes a bit more work, but I am hoping I can get it all done.

I hope that everyone is having a good week whether your close to the end of the year, still trucking along, or out for the summer! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Assessment Resources

OK... So I am one of those weird people that loves collecting data and seeing assessment results.  They aren't the most fun things to do in the classroom but I really love seeing if my kiddos have progressed and seeing what we still need to work on.  I also rely on them to help me decide which kids I really need to work with and which kids struggle but don't actually need pull-out intervention support. 

Over the last 2 years I have found a few assessments that I use as benchmarks for my kiddos and I try to use them 3 times a year.  Some things I assess much more frequently such as reading fluency, sight words, math skills, etc. but the following are my major benchmark scores that I use before progress reports and keep in their files.  I have been really excited to share this post with you all because I really find these materials and resources extremely helpful and I hope your can find something that will be of use for you as well.

For math skills I use a website called ThatQuiz. 

It assesses the major concepts, and computation in math.  I love it because I can specify the skill, I don't have to print or grade it (which I LOVE), it times it without the kids knowing its doing so, and it tracks and graphs their scores.  I choose/create the tests that each of my kiddos need and assign it to their class.  Then come test day, I give each student a notecard with all of the test codes for the tests that they need to take and let them go. It does require a login but it is free to signup!

For reading in grades 2 - 8, I use a few different measures.

1. San Diego Quick Assessment:  <-- That link will take you to the assessment which you can open, print, and use.  I glued the 2 Student Material pages to the inside of a file folder and then laminated it.  I then keep copies of the Record Form in the file so that I can easily and quickly assess a student when a teacher suggests I start working with them.

This is fairly common assessment which measures word recognition out of context.  It is broken up into 13 grade level word lists and gives you a quick picture of which grade level a student can read an "out of context" word.  This assessment takes less than 2 minutes.

2. Story Retell Assessment - The next assessment I use is a retell assessment.  I use the form that I got from the Reading A-Z Tutors Program.  This program requires a membership login and is something that I purchased for my classroom since I didn't have a reading program to use.  So far I love it... but anyways... the Assessment form. 

You can find a few out in the internet world but this is my favorite.  I have a student read an entire grade level passage.  I time it for 1 minute and make a note and that way I also get my Oral Reading Fluency score as well and I can kill 2 birds with 1 stone!  But the retell checksheet assesses the ability to retell important information from the passage including sequence, characters, problem, and solution.

3. Writing Skills Checklist - You can get this checklist from the Read-Write-Think website.  Get this specific rubric here. 

I like this one because it is simple yet conclusive.  I think it gives a lot of good information and I can use it for all grade levels.  I also use story prompts for my benchmark data collections and I typically use ones from Funny & Fabulous Story Prompts which you can download from Scholastic's Teacher Express resource for $1.00 right now!!  I highly recommend it!  I also have students use a colored pen to make their revisions as well so I can see how their editing skills have progressed.

4.  EasyCBM - This is a website that also requires a user login but you can get one for free.  I use this to download comprehension assessments.  I print the grade level passage and questions.  The passages are a bit longer so I only use these for benchmarks.  Each assessment has between 10 and 20 multiple choice questions.



For my first graders, I assess at the beginning and the end of the year using the RTI Assessments and Remediation for grade K- 2.  You can also click the above link and download it for $1.00 right now from Scholastic Teacher Express. 

If you prefer the actual book, you should be able to get it at any book store or order it from Amazon for $27.99.  It's a great resource and has a lot of great activity and intervention ideas.  I love the assessments for my first graders as well to track comprehension, writing, and grammar.   I also use DIBELS skills assessments for those specific skills as well.

I hope that you found something useful and I'd love to hear how you think that one of these can help you in your classrooms. 

Also, what assessment/goal tracking resources do you use?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Questionnaire Freebie

Unfortunately I don't have much to share with you tonight... With end of the year testing, parent meetings, planning parties, end of year school events, progress report writing, RTI paperwork, and who knows what else I am forgetting... my brain is fried and I havent done anything fun or new.

However, I took your advice and I made an End of the Year Memory page.  I really wanted to make a fun book but I just don't see the kids enough and with end of the year assessment wrap ups, I don't have time to work on all of it with them anyways.  So instead I just made a one page questionnaire that the kids can fill in after finishing their goal/data work and during our party day.  I'm sure most of you have one that you use already but I thought I would share this one with you all as well. 

Feel free to download it here but please leave me a comment and let me know what you think if you do!



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Baby Shower Cookies

Before I share the cookies I made, I wanted to thank those of you that commented on my last post.  I think that I am going to try and throw something together but it's not going to be at the top of my priority list.  If I get it together, I'll be sure to share it with you!

Now for the cookies!...

One of the teachers at my school is having a baby shower for her daughter.  (Thankfully, I was able to keep it together while baking and decorating them).  I agreed to make some cookies that she could use as favors as well as some cupcakes for dessert.  I wanted to share a great resource for decorating cookies.  I warn you though that this task is not for those that like instant gratification.  It is quite time consuming and very delicate work but I love seeing the final product and they just taste so stinkin good.

www.annies-eats.com is a great website for recipes, especially dessert.  You can get her tutorial for royal icing here and it is really good.

Anyways... here are the onesies I made.

pretty cute huh?

All packaged up and ready to go!


Well that's all my brain can handle tonight.  Yay for tomorrow being Friday and then only 2 weeks left! Woohoo!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Help!!! I Need End of the Year Ideas

So being in the position I am in, part time Intervention Specialist and part time Instructional Aide I see a LOT of kids in the week.  I have 32 kids that I see during intervention times which total out to 3 days a week. I pretty much see these kids every year, especially the ones that are on IEP's, and I would really love to do a memory book/end of the year fun wrap up.  However I know that they do these in their normal classrooms as well.  But I was thinking it would be so fun and special to try and do the same "end of year interview" or "memory book" and keep them.  Then when they either test out of special ed services or graduate 8th grade I can give them to them in a little book. 


My concerns/questions/problems...


1. Is it silly for them to do one for me when I am sure they will do something along the same lines in their classroom?
2. If I do make one and do this, what should I put on it?
3. How on earth am I going to find the time to do this when I only get to see these kids once a week, twice at most, and we only have 2 weeks left, plus lots of end of the year testing?!?
4. Will this be worth it if I only end up staying at this school for one more year (then they wouldn't have a bunch of years worth compiled together in a book when they graduate or test out.)


Also.... any of you Pull-Out, Resource teachers out there... How do you celebrate the end of the year with your students?  Does this time of the year really make you long for a classroom of your own with your own kiddos long I seem to be feeling??

Thanks in advance!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Another 1 Bites the Dust!

I am linking up with Amber over at Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher for Another One Bites the Dust.  This is as much a fun link up with all you fabulous bloggers as it is a reflection for me!  Join in the fun by clicking the link above!

The Great!:

1. Learning about the amazing blogging world!!  -  This has been such a resource and support system for me.  The majority of the teachers at my school have been teaching for quite awhile and many are close to retirement.  They all are so experienced and prefer to stick to what they know rather than try some new things or do much collaboration. 


2. Starting an RTI Program  -  This has been an extremely challenging task and has taken a lot of time but I have been really excited about it.  It is still very rough and I am still trying to get support from all of the teachers but I think it will be a great asset to our school and for our students as well as teachers.


3.  Finding the Reading Tutors Program, part of Reading A-Z  -  I was really struggling coming up with lessons and interventions to use for reading readiness and comprehension.  This has been a great place for me to start and build off of and I look forward to using it more next year!


The Not So Great...


1.  Large Case Load and Lack of Time  -  I am technically a part time Special Ed. Teacher and a part time instructional aide.  The division line between to 2 positions has gotten very blurred.  I had 33 kids on my case load this year and technically only had 3 days to work with them on intervention work.  I would really love to be full time and I could only imagine the amazing progress we could make with more time.


I feel like most of my graphs look this way... They don't really, but I wish more went upwards a lot more than they did.

2.  Lack of Progress  -  I really feel like my kids didn't make nearly as much progress as I had hoped they would.  It is also really hard for me when I see these kiddos once or twice a week to determine if I am helping them grow and progress.  How do I know it's not just them maturing or their classroom teacher helping.


3.  Staying focused and doing my best  -  I had a lot of personal things going on this year and I found it hard to really stay on top of things.  Being in the position that I am in, it is easy to "slack off" and do the bare minimum when it comes to lesson planning.  With everything that I had going on this year, this happened WAY MORE than I had hoped it would.  Next year is going to be different and it will be my best year yet!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tiered Pots!!

So this is a very quick little post but I wanted to make sure I shared this info with you.  For all of you that commented on those adorable tiered pots that I posted about on my Summer Bucket list, here is the link to the original source! 

I am so excited to make these and spruce up our deck area so it will be one of my first summer projects! I am thinking different colors though... maybe teal and yellow, or green and teal, or gosh who knows... I'll be sure to share the ones I make whenever I get to it!

I found this cute little project on Pinterest, but you can find the original post here.


Night everyone... Have a good week!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Summer Bucket List

Miss Kindergarten, A Cupcake for the Teacher, and A Modern Teacher are having a Summer Bucket List Linky Party and I am thrilled to link up! I'm counting down the days 'til the end of the year... 14 to go!  I will be tutoring 3 days a week but will still have more free time in the summer than I have ever had and I am really looking forward to it!

You can link up and join the fun here!

School Preparations:

- Pack and move all of my stuff from my little room to a slightly bigger little room

- Print and assemble all of the amazing resources I have found and downloaded from all of you amazing ladies

- Work on creating some activities and decorations for the new theme... Under the Sea!!


- Find ways to stay organized and on top of things



Around the House:

- Turn the basement into an office/craft room/entertainment area

- Turn the office into and empty room so that it can (hopefully sooner rather than later) be turned into a baby room...

- Finish my cookbook/menu planner

- Get some color and cuteness in our deck/small little mulch area.
- Do some other pinterest inspired projects/crafts



Things to do:

- Go to some Reds Games

- See 2nd City which is back in Cincy...YAY!!

- Dave Matthews Concert with the Hubby who is kinda obsessed... it was our first date and we LOVE going!

- FLORIDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Read some new books








Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Some Cupcake Pictures & A Writing Intervention

Oh this weather is making me feel so crummy!  But luckily it's Wednesday which means it's almost Friday and I can rest over the weekend.  On top of the 12 parent meetings I have in the next 4 weeks, I also have been picking up on the baking orders.  We had our volunteer luncheon today and I made 72 cupcakes Monday night & last night for it!  They were a huge hit and I am hoping that I get some more orders/business from it!

I made...
 Cookies 'n' Cream

Buckeye

And Vanilla


I really need to work on my cupcake photography! 

But anyways... Now on to the strategy!

I have many kiddos that I work with that really need support with writing sentences and also writing paragraphs.  Many of them write about 5 different topics in 1 paragraph, repeat the same details over and over, or struggle to write more than 2 sentences.  And not to mention, how many times do you hear kids ask "How long does it have to be?"  Well this is an intervention that I do with my older kids (grades 4 and up) that really supports their learning.  (I don't use it with younger kiddos because they need support in basic sentences, but you may be able to use this with your youngin's that are ready for paragraphs.) 

I learned of a similar intervention from somewhere... I wish I could remember where... that I tweaked and then I made the following printable.  I call it the 1-3-5 Paragraph. The idea is that you write 1 sentence (the topic sentence) 3 more sentences that give details based on the topic sentence and a 5th sentence (the conclusion sentence) that essentially repeats the topic sentence. 

I love this strategy and it works really well for my junior high kids that struggle with writing.  I also like it because I can easily give the classroom teachers a few copies.  I suggest that they give them to my students when they are working on writing assignments in class to provide an in class accommodation (and I just cross my fingers and hope that they actually use it!!....) 

Here is a copy for you to download and see a little easier.  Please, if you do download, leave me a little note and let me know what you think! 





Monday, May 7, 2012

An ABC Freebie

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week Everyone!! I am so excited to shop the sales at TPT... I am still getting the hang of that site and am loving it more each time I am on it.  I will eventually add some of my goodies but for now, I will continue offering freebies... Lucky all of you right?!?!?! 

I am going to have a tiny pity party for a moment now. 
Being in the position that I am in... Part time Instructional Assistant & Part Time Intervention Specialist in a tiny school, teacher appreciation week usually seems to bypass me.  Not to whine or complain but I see all the great things that the classroom teachers have received and it can be frustrating at times.  I don't teach for all the glory and the amazing paycheck...NOT... but I teach because I love it and because I love watching kiddos be successful!  However... it is nice to be appreciated sometimes.  Any of you other pull-out/resource teacher out there feel this way? 

Anyways....

We do a volunteers appreciation luncheon on Wednesday and my school asked me to do the cupcakes!  For those of you who don't know, I have a very small little side baking business.  I do cupcakes, cakes, and cookies and I am doing 72 cupcakes for the luncheon.  Yay!! I am hoping that this will spark some more business over the summer to get some more money coming in!  So I baked all of those after school today and am just now finished up.  I will leave you with an ABC book freebie that I made for my kinders summer work packets.  I am sure many of you have your own version of this, but just in case, here is mine

This is the cover page.

And here is a sample page.  Students are instructed to search for pictures of things that begin with the letter at the top of the page.  I also encourage them to start thinking of words, writing them on the page, and have their parents help them with spelling them.

To assemble: Fold the over page normally.  For the other pages, fold them the opposite way so that the fold crease is out and the 2 pages folded are stapled into the "spine".  Let me know if that doesn't make sense... It's late and my brain is about mush haha.



I hope someone finds it cute and useful.   Remember, if you download, please leave me a little comment and let me know what you think!



OMGosh... I almost forgot.....This past weekend my husband and I bought a new car... and it's all mine!  A new 2013 black Ford Explorer!  I just love it!

Anyways, have a great week everyone!
Taylor*

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Currently

And I'll Have Another wins!!!!!!!!!!!!  I totally picked that one to win but the Hubs decided to bet for a trifecta..... boo.  Oh well, we still had fun with lots of yummy food and fun times with family and that's what is important! 

Can you believe it is May?  Time for a link up with Farley for the Currently of the month!  You can join the party Here!!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Getting Organized... Starting with a New Planner!

So I know I haven't done many teaching/education posts recently but as previously mentioned, I am working on getting life organized and so that has been a focus lately.  Also, at school all I have been doing is testing testing testing....  OAA's last week and DIBELS this week.  They are boring to me and so I know they are boring to you.  Thus be the other random posts!

With that said...I have been using Google Calendar to keep track of meetings and to-dos but I just really like writing things down and checking them off.  Also, over the summer I am tutoring 13 kids (at least) and I really need a way to keep track of that schedule.  
I LOVE the Erin Condren Planners but I just cannot justify spending $60.00 on a planner that has to be replaced each year.  Plus, it wasn't customized to what I needed to keep me organized each day.... so... I created my own, personalized and customized. 

I got the cover from MEAD Organizher from Target!  I love this line of stuff!  Cute right?  And only $15.00


I made a set of monthly pages to track important events (b-days & anniversaries).  Each month is colored and has cute little clipart which, well honestly, just makes me happy!



Each week, I have a place to track meetings and places I need to be, a to-do list, a meal planner, and a blogging ideas section.


I think it turned out really cute and hopefully it will help keep me on track! If you would like any of the materials, leave me a comment and I can email them to you!

What do you use to keep yourself organized?

Taylor*