About Me

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I am a sixth-year Teacher in Stamford, CT. This year, I get to start a year in first grade with some of the most fabulous firsties! I spend lots of time thinking of new ways to help my students access the curriculum in a fun, engaging way! I recently started blogging about teaching tips and treasures!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tuesday is so soon!

Getting ready to meet the kids - or "re-meet" them, in some cases! Just to give you an idea of what our room looks like: 

This was our room in the beginning of August! 

I spent lots and lots of time working on it. Though it is, of course, a work in progress... here it is, new and improved!:

And.... here is a picture of our gorgeous bulletin board:

I can't WAIT to see all of my first graders!  I'd like to extend an invitation to come in, drop of your kiddo on Tuesday, and come say hello. You probably want to see our new classroom, and see your child's teacher - and you're welcome to! I will caution that it will more than likely be a little crazy because it's the first day, but come in and say hi any day this week... and please, let me know about your child's dismissal information on Tuesday if he/she is NOT going to be bus. I have bus numbers for the class, but would like to know if your child is going home any other way.

Thanks! See you soon!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Happy New (School) Year!

I just got a peek at my class list!

I LOVE beginning a new school year, and can't wait to see my fantastic first graders. :-)

I may, just MAY, have a few of my munchkins from last year. I didn't get to keep my whole class, unfortunately... but I'm looking forward to seeing those of you that I DO have!

Hope you've had a wonderful summer... See you soon!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

In the Home Stretch!

It has been a literally EXHAUSTING stretch these past couple of months.

If you don't know about testing in the schools, I can assure you, we do plenty of it... So over the course of the last month, we have administered the final math test, administered the final phonics and sight words tests for this year, and administered the DRA2 test that I told you all about at conferences. The DRA2, for those of you who have not experienced it for other students, takes quite some time to administer... so let me tell you, it has been a long month and a half of testing! I will say this: My students did very well with their DRA tests, and I could not be prouder of their accomplishments!

That said, I am so psyched to finish the year out with these awesome Kindergarten Kids... and then begin my journey in FIRST GRADE next fall! I have been waiting for the official word to announce it, and I just got confirmation this week :-) I am so excited to begin this new chapter, and I think it was the perfect year to go to first, because I get to follow your kiddos up. I LOVE this class, and wish I could take them all with me into my first grade class too! That said, if you come into the classroom and notice it's looking a little bare, it's because we're packing everything up for the move up to my first grade room, and it's going to take quite some time to finish it out! Thanks to the generosity of donors from Donors Choose, we have been prepping for first grade standards, and we have PLENTY of materials to follow us to 1st.

So, what have we been up to the last month or so?...

Math: We are learning how to represent numbers with tens and ones. This means I show the kids  some number cards - 19, 16, 29, etc... and the kids have to show me how to make the number with tens and ones. We have also been working on learning our coins. We introduced this informally throughout the year, but it's a more formal instruction now. I am not expecting mastery, and don't want you to think that we expect it! By the end of the year all the kiddos really need to master is coin names for penny, dime, quarter and nickel.

Reading: We are working on comprehension skills... serious comprehension skills! We are still working on opinion, retelling, favorite part - and those things are still very important. At this point in the year, we're working on developing comprehension while reading. We want the kids to be able to make connections while reading, get involved in the character's feelings, and make predictions throughout a story. We also want kids to be able to infer, so we are beginning the process of guiding them toward author's purpose ( a hard concept for a K kid!).

Phonics: Well, my kids are awesome. We know all of our letters and sounds, though we still practice them regularly! We are still working on ending sounds, word families, and now, beginning blends (cl, br, bl, etc). We are learning the "ow" and "aw" and "ee" sounds in words - our kids have mastered the basics, so we're beginning to teach them more complex patterns now.

Writing: Well, this is my pride and joy. I don't know what it is about this class, but they are just fantastic writers! If you remember at the beginning of the year, I posted lots of kinder-kid writing. This is an example of what we are now doing in writing... and this is ONE STORY!:

 "One day I went to the water park in my car. I brung stuff with me."
 "Next when I got there I put on my bathing suit and my life jacket so I don't drown."
 "Then I went to the side and I played with my brother. He was too scared."
 I missed the first page of this in my picture taking, but what it says is: "Then I went to the pool but I couldn't swim in there because someone catapulted so I went back to the other side of the water park. There was a big bucket and my brother was scared of it."
 "Then it was bed time so I went to bed. I was SO sleepy."
 "Then it was morning. I put on my bathing suit and life jacket and went to the pool."
"I had an exciting day."

Do you all KNOW how exciting this is? Because... MOST of the stories are this good. I would love to have posted more, but that's a LOT of photos. :-) I have never seen K kids hold a story for this long or write quite so many details. And they honestly LOVE it. I know for some people it might seem like they're not spelling correctly, not developed enough, etc... but trust me when I tell you, this is FANTASTIC! Most of these kiddos can't WAIT until writing time and they could easily go for hours if we let them. I'm really most proud of their accomplishments in this area!

Upcoming Events:
Thurs 6/5: Field Trip to Stamford Nature Center
Thurs 6/12: Kindergarten Show
Fri 6/20: Last Day of School

I am going to have a little party with the kids during the last week of school. I was going to have it on the last day but may change that to the day before. If anyone is interested in coming in and doing some little activities with the kids.... please let me know what day works best for you! Thank you! I'm open to any day that week.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Happy Donors Choose Day to Us!

Look what came today! We're going to be ready made for first grade with all these new math tools! Thanks Donors Choose!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Magnet Restructuring!

So, Toquam Families...

Last week you may have gotten a flier home stating to come for a meeting to restructure our school. Here's the scoop:

Bank Street @ Toquam has been passed down from generation to generation, but our staff is not trained in the Bank Street model anymore. We have some aspects of Bank Street that have carried over, and a lot of aspects that we are missing. As a result, we have been given this amazing opportunity to create a new magnet model for our school! We had some great ideas as a staff of what we would like to see, and we now have a Magnet Renewal Committee that is working on this project, along with our School Governance Council. We will be (and have begun) visiting schools all over CT and into NY to check out different models for magnet schools that might fit our needs.

How exciting is all of this??? I am on School Governance, and I also have a really huge interest in the magnet renewal, so today I spent the day out of the classroom visiting three awesome magnet schools in the Hartford area. It's so awesome to see different schools... very inspiring!

Next time you see a magnet renewal notice come home, please, please, please come out and check out what's going on - it is so interesting and the goal is to get information out to as many parents as possible. I would love for my class parents - being that you've got the youngest kids in the school and are the most invested - to really be a part of this process!

Thanks for sharing my excitement :-)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools Day :-)

Hello Everyone!

We are working HARD in Kindergarten... as in, ridiculously hard! I am excited to say our students are making tons and tons of progress. We have had a whirlwind couple of weeks! Here's what we're up to:

Mystery Readers:
So far we have had three mystery readers! Our first was Mrs. Puccella, and the kids were super excited to see her. They had a great time with her, and Mrs. Puccella even got on the floor to read with them! The students loved having her here. Our second mystery reader was Jackson's mom, Mrs. Day. I don't know if anyone was as shocked as Jackson that she was here! :-) It was fun and the kids had a good time reading a new book. There is definite interest when the book is new and exciting for the kids! Our last mystery reader was Dr. Ligon. She came in this past Friday and we had an awesome time with her. She read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, since we're learning about the weather. The kids loved having her as well - they are having a good time with this mystery reader program! For those of you who have not sent a date to read, please send this as soon as possible so I can get you set up with a date!
Here's some pictures of the kids during mystery reading time:

During reader's and writer's workshop, we have been working on finishing up Eric Carle. We have been working on creating illustrations just like Eric Carle. Here are some pictures of our work:

We have been learning about the weather during science and partially during math, since weather is one of our daily routines. The students have been learning about different kinds of clouds, where clouds come from, and what we call the different types of clouds when we look up in the sky! We read the book "It Looked Like Spilt Milk" which talks about all of the different shapes that clouds might be. We then used white paper to make our OWN cloud pictures!

That's all I have for now! I will update later on, but wanted to make sure to get these up here for your viewing pleasure :-)
I might have given the kids a cute little April Fools trick to play on their moms and dads. I'm sorry... well, not really. It's cute!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

DRA2 - An "Info-Session" :-)

You may be wondering what in the world DRA2 is, and why I'm posting about it... :-)

DRA2 is the test we use in Connecticut that helps us understand your child's reading strengths and weaknesses, and determine how we're going to focus our instruction to meet the needs of our students. It is (in my opinion) a worthwhile, yet time consuming assessment. We give this test during "windows" of time, and the next window is the first time your kiddos will be taking this assessment... right after April "break". (Who knows whether we will have one at this point, as the decision is being made on April 1st!)

So, why tell you about this test? It's simple.... I believe parents are a huge part of how successful my students are, and in order to help them be as successful as possible, I need to give you more information on how to best help your children become better readers and retellers!

DRA2 - A "Breakdown" of the test:

1. The teacher (me!) introduces a leveled text to your child. It is something on their independent reading level.
2. Your child has to "picture walk" through the book and talk about what he/she thinks will happen in the story.
3. Your child will read the book out loud. While he/she is reading, I will take a "running record" - which means I'm checking off what he/she is reading, and writing down what types of errors he/she makes (to help inform my instruction).
4. When your child is done reading, I have to calculate the accuracy of his/her reading. As long as your child passed the accuracy with a few errors only, I will ask him/her to retell the story.
5. Your child will retell... and I mean, RETELL. He/she has to tell the characters, setting, and every single little thing that happens in the story. We are so used to summarizing that it's hard to get into the right frame of mind to do this type of retelling... but it's important for the kiddos to get used to it!
6. I will ask your child to make a connection to the text, give an opinion about the text, and other comprehension questions. I score your child's answers based on their reasoning and ability to give an answer to these questions.
7. You get a DRA2 score on the report card, and I get a good look at your child's reading strengths and weaknesses, to better assist me with teaching him/her!

A lot of parents are concerned that this is used to "track" children as they head into first grade, and will determine whose class they end up in. Although the scores help us teach the children at their levels, they are not used to determine classes for next year.

What can you do to help your child?

That's an easy one :-)

Read! Read! Read! Retell, Retell, Retell! Just talk to your child about the books you read at home, and the books they read to you - and he/she will naturally become better at reading and retelling.

This week for homework, we're sending home a "sample" that we made up for you, of how a DRA2 looks for the kids and the teacher. Have your child read the simple book we're sending home, and practice retelling it to you. We are giving you a sheet to help you determine the details your child should have in his/her retelling, and the comprehension questions at the end that will help you figure out if your child was understanding what he/she was reading. Please use this as a guide to help YOU understand what we're looking for! The book we're sending home is considered "on grade level" (a DRA 4) by the end of kindergarten.

Let me know if you have any questions about this assessment! I'm more than happy to answer them, and I'm hoping I was helpful with this little tutorial :-)