Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Calling all ELL teachers!! Or anyone that wants a peek into an Australian classroom!

Oh my heart be still.

I miss teaching in Australia so bad.

A year ago I was still in Australia.

I feel like I can say this:
~my heart is in England (my sweetheart is there, but I will join him again soon!)
~what I know is in Arizona
~where I belong is Australia

I just came across these pictures from my classroom when I taught at the English Language School in Melbourne.

Not an ELD class with 25-30 students.

I'm talking a New Arrivals program (immigrants and refugees from ALL over) for students(9-12 students per class) that are new to the country and are pre-literate, have interrupted schooling, or near equivalent school but are acquiring English.

Different from a public school, but connected to a public school (if that makes sense).

And I had the amazing experience of having the most beautiful, sweet, humble and hard-working students for 6 months (until my stupid visa ran out!). But I guess the cool thing is that the previous 6 months before that job I got to sub around Australia which was a great experience too.

Anyway, I came across these pictures and remembered again how much I loved going to that job everyday (I still think I got pneumonia because my room was not well-heated in the winter, but hey) and loved my life in that country.

Ah, a special time.

I could talk all day about the specifics of this amazing program that Australia has got going on. But I'm so tired tonight.

Here's some pictures.....excuse the make-shift stuff. Construction paper and other basics do not flow as freely as in the States......especially with the limited budget of the Language Schools.

Did I mention this job was like heaven on earth?

And that the parent-teacher conferences were the must humbling experiences of my life?

The respect and appreciation I felt nearly blew me over. I remember thinking, bottle this up Kelli. Don't ever forget the words these parents are saying to you. This may be the highlight of your career.

The parents see their children acquiring English as the key to life.

They used dictionaries or picture dictionaries daily.

One of the leveled spelling lists (I had about 3 levels in the class)

I definitely brought some phonics over! Zoo Phonics for all,
some "flexible" Spaulding for others

in the library

The most popular game in the class!!
Guess Who? (Deluxe)
The best way to get them talking!!!
And understand how to ask yes/no questions!!

like I said, paper was scarce

Field trip graphic organizer
(what they saw, heard, smelled, touched)
~any level can do it!!

The same child wrote a recount the day after
the field trip, using his graphic organizer!

I have some documents to add for some centers I created (not shown).......but I'll have to do it another night. Now I'm off to bed dreaming of kangaroos, trains, beaches and flowers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Sunshine award and my current long-term sub job

Wahoo!!  An award--I'm so excited and encourage by this wonderful award--thank you to Kristin at A Teeny Tiny Teacher (you're so kind)!

So here's a bit about me:

Favorite color: various shades of blue, love it.

Favorite animal: I do like dogs (especially puppies)

Favorite number: 14 (old volleyball number)

Favorite drinks: I love the pumpkin spice lattes y.u.m...........and hot chai lattes

Facebook or Twitter: ha, I'm in the process of closing my facebook because it's all too much with pinterest, blogs, etc!

My passion:  I know that all my blessings come from my Lord and Savior, I love working with enthusiastic, hard-working teachers, never miss my yoga, traveling and exploring the world, love to shop at vintage/thrift stores, and movies with my sister as often as possible.

Giving or receiving: I find it very difficult to receive.......I even asked for no gifts for my upcoming wedding ( I refuse to register so people will honor this!), so yeah, I guess I like to give more than receive.

Favorite day: Fridays-I love relaxing and refueling on the weekends.
Now who do I pass this award to? I am a bit new to this blog world, but I pick the inspiring Clutter-Free Classroom (who has probably won this award a thousand times over!)
and now, very quickly:

My Current Job

I have done many long-term sub assignments during my  3ish years of subbing (the other 6 years were with my own class).......I am currently in a dream long-term job. Honestly. So lucky.

Here's why.

It's at a school I know, with a supportive principal and bright and friendly office staff. Yes please. The staff is super nice and friendly : )  The teacher I'm covering until Christmas is a superstar teacher who has taken over the program coach role at the school (so students are well-trained and I'm learning cool stuff from the routines she's established). Yay and yay! AND, it's an ELD second grade class, which is so great because I've been wanting more experience in second grade and I also welcome more experience with ELL students. Wahoo!

Here are a couple pictures from her classroom :
Why haven't I ever thought of having all the phone
numbers right by the phone like this?

I have learned alot about setting up an AR system

up close picture of AR book organization

student folder for self-selected AR reading log

up close reading log


I liked this for the "overflow" cubby solution

I will have to share my other long-term jobs sometime.........they include everything from maternity cover to teachers in rehab.....stay tuned : )

Monday, November 28, 2011

Measuring Table

I did a measuring activity in a kindergarten class the other day. It was part of the Investigations curriculum, if you're familiar with that. The lovely thing about this program is the marriage of hands-on manipulative play with the transferring and recording into a math journal/portfolio.

Set up:
Students glued title (Longer than, Shorter than) into math journal. Students drew line down center of page.

(adapt to your own lessons).....Several specific items were placed on a table (items that are in the clipart I give the students, as drawing and labeling items can be a struggle for young kinders). Students made a tower of 10 cubes as their measuring resource. After they measured their item, they glued in the corresponding clipart picture under the correct heading of their column.

This particular activity needed to be done in small groups so that I could help the students, and so that there were enough items to go around.

Get copy of titles here
Get copy of pictures here

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tens and Ones titles for Math Journals



Here is a example of students working with place value into their math journal/portfolio.  Students can pick a number, glue it in their portfolio (or copy down given number from board), and then use manipulatives (if so desired) before drawing into their correct columns for place value practice.


copy of titles here

Saturday, November 26, 2011

skip the fill-in-the-blank and encourage more writing!

Often times, it's hard to get away from worksheets. Sometimes schools or districts mandate that you use a certain number/all of given curriculum series to prove "fidelity to the core" (glad I haven't worked at places like that!) or you're not sure how else students could practice the specific concept.

I like to take worksheets and cut parts of it to encourage more seen in the pictures below. I put a worksheet on the document camera/overhead to give students sentence frames (or at their table if they need it).

I try to avoid fill in the blank (different from cloze activities which I know are powerful and helpful), as I saw that this was almost never done in England or Australia and students there wrote a LOT more (yes, this is a bit of a generalization). 


worksheets source: Harcourt Storytown

Any thoughts on worksheets in the classrooms???

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Harcourt series + writing question sentences

Incorporating question sentences with setting pictures from reading series

On the walls.........

Building community

what a terrible picture I took! you can't see the timeline and all of the lovely "artifacts"

Not the prettiest, but England has certain rules about what bulletin boards must contain
(and there's no Lakeshore or Teaching Stuff there!)

Targets must be posted in British classrooms!
Vocab board in ELL kdg classroom
Pin It

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Love those IKEA boxes!

Organized Kdg library

Kdg bulletin board for Open House with kid-friendly objectives

Second Grade Library: beautiful

Second Grade Bulletin Board

Third Grade Word Wall

Third Grade Literacy Centers

Compare Numbers.......Math Portfolio/Journal

Comparing numbers.......connects nicely after playing
"Compare" or "War" card game in pairs.

Title for students to glue in portfolios/journals here
Differentiated numbers:
Lower achieving here
Avg here
Higher here

Lower achieving students could also draw objects under numbers if necessary.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My ABC's of Teaching

As a teacher that has been teaching over 15 years, across many schools, cities and countries........I have been inspired..........and I have been disappointed.

DISCLAIMER: I do not claim to be the best teacher in the world, and am not saying that I don't have things to adjust, learn or seek. I have a list of skills, strategies and development that I know I need to improve to be better for my students.

I am a massive O B S E R V E R when I go around to schools. At the schools I have worked at (on contract or subbing), I take away something every time. Fantastic teaching strategies to try in the future, or behaviors or ideas that are toxic and that I should avoid.

With my good fortune of gaining insight into a hundred if not more (maybe?) classrooms, I can see now that good, effective teaching has a few main pieces to the puzzle of teaching. Many small things fall under each category, but to me, it is comprised of this:

TEACHING SKILLS: your training, continued prof development, how you teach the curriculum, assess, etc.

ORGANIZATION: your room set up (thinking through all parts of the day), room cleanliness, keeping students accountable to take care of classroom items, time on task, having copies made, lesson plans in place, sub notes ready, routines.

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT: I'm not talking so much about discipline here, but what has been put in place first, so that students know what is expected and acceptable. I will also include routines here again because I think that will make or break your classroom. Also included here is your consistency, follow-through and promoting the positive. And also making modifications/accommodating children who need extra help due to impulse/hyperactivity/etc behavior that is out of their control (management program not really effective if they're on red everyday, right?)

COMMUNICATION: with staff ("I need help teaching.........."), parents (newsletters, calendars, etc and also with behavior/academics, etc.."Susie is late and absent a lot, which affects her learning. Can we work together to find a solution for that?"), and the community (volunteers, outreach, etc).

If you are still reading, I put together a few notes that I think can make teaching more pleasant, easy and efficient.

I know that some of the same issues will always be there (parents that are horrible, bad admin, challenging students, etc)...........but what I'm saying is: Teaching is hard enough, so why not be efficient with what is in YOUR control??

A: Anticipate what is coming next. Eliminate possible downtime for students (they will find trouble!)
   Assess your students and know what they need.

B: Balance your life so you don't get burned out.

C: Choose your battles with students. Their behavior doesn't have to perfect for them to be actively engaged.
     Communicate with parents. Get to know them. They may be more open to listen to you.

D: Differentiate. I bet half of behavior problems come from students that have work that is too easy/hard for them. Let's meet our students where they're at. Put yourself in their shoes.

E: Energy & Enthusiasm. Show the students you're happy to be there with them!! Be the teacher you would want teaching you at one of your professional development sessions.

F: Find inspiring teachers to surround yourself with. Toxic teachers will bring you down.

G: Get in a good mood! Whatever it takes: chocolate, coffee, etc. The students deserve a happy teacher!
    Gossip: no good. Yep, I know. I'm working on not doing it too.

H: Honesty with parents is necessary, despite how uncomfortable it may be.
    Hoarding is not helpful and is an overwhelming environment for you and your students. Throw some stuff away already!
I: Integrity.....teach like you would if your principal or the parents were a fly on the wall.  Would you really talk like that if they were around?

J: Joy. Find joy in your day. It's easy to rush around, trying to fit all those standards in. Enjoy moments.

K: Know your students. Each one. They're not all the same.

L: Love of Learning: Is this in your classroom?

M: Mean what you say, Say what you mean

N: Nagging never works.

O: Organization.........what are you waiting for?? This is will make life so much better!
    Observe other teachers. Don't think you don't need it. We all do, and it will progress your teaching practices.

P: Passion. Do you have it? Have you lost it? How can you get it again?

Q: Quiet doesn't necessarily mean engaged/working/etc. Don't demand silence all the time.

R: Reflect on your teaching practices and choose areas to improve.
   Routines for everything. Carpet time, walking in a line, a pencil breaking, when the phone rings, where to put books, how to line up..................

S: Smile. Enough said. Who likes a grump?
   Share your resources. Why wouldn't you?

T: Treat others like you would want to be treated. I can't tell you how incredibly heart-breaking it is to see teachers scream at and belittle their students. Daily. yikes.

U: Utilize your parent volunteers.  And not just for cutting and copying things.

V: Vanity. I always feel better when I take time to look nice at school. And I hope to show the students and parents that I'm a professional and take pride in my job. I'm not saying this happens everyday, but hey. Just sayin'.

W: Water, Food, Recess & Bathroom: Maslow's Hierarcy of Needs. I can't think of anything worse than a teacher taking a student's recess everyday. Hate it.

X: eXcessive worksheets become meaningless to kids. Not to mention such a waste of paper.

Y: Yoga or stretching for you and the students. Take a brain break.

Z: Zest  n. Enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance.

Like I said, I am not perfect. I'm working towards many of the above items. But by working towards these ideas, I have to say that I really like my job as a teacher!! I hope this has helped you to enjoy your job a little more.

Pajama Day with a long-term class in AZ. Fun!

Early Kdg Centers: Letters & Sounds

My FIRST  *F* R* E* E*  document downloads!
Please try them and give me some feedback!
Also many links and ideas....

Letters & Sounds

Letter Sort (Kindergarten Harcourt specific) here

Letter/Sound Graph here
You will have to print page and write specific letters.
sight words phrases on magnets-Harcourt resources

Writing Center: Identify and write letters
Kdg Harcourt Resource

As Fast As You Can!
They have great resources and have "Speed Drills"
theme by theme. I copy these on 2 different colors and put in clear sheets.
More able read all letters mixed up, less able read only letters that have been introduced.

Letter matching: Kdg Harcourt Resource

Sound Sort-Harcourt Resource
for less able students (has word printed on cards)

Slowly I start..........I have many more ideas and documents to come!