Monday, May 2, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Sale Link-UP

Hello Everyone!
It is that time of year again. The one time a year where teacher's get the appreciation that they deserve. TPT makes sure we feel the love by having their Teacher Appreciation Sale!!!  Now is the time to Celebrate and snatch up some things you've been eyeballing!!!

A big thanks for sharing the sale button Teaching in the Tongass!

Several of TPT Sellers are putting their stores on sale for 20% off.  You can save even more when you enter in the Promo Code CELEBRATE and you will get an additional 10% off of your purchase.
We want to make it very easy and convenient for you to find the stores of teachers participating in the sale. 

 I have teamed up with some awesome bloggers that are hosting a linky filled with teachers participating!!  Teachers participating should link up a blog post or their TPT store!!

You can click on any of the link ups below to shop or go to their blog to see some products they have on sale!
Here are some products we have on sale!!

Here is a template for you to share some of yours on your blog as you link up.

Here is What to Do to Participate in the Linky

1. Copy and paste the blank template into PowerPoint.
2. Put your product pics in the template.
3. Save your button AND our linky button.
4. Create a blog post using these images.
5. Link your published blog post up with us OR just link up your TPT store that will be on sale! 

Froggy Fun Outdoors

Frogs!!! YUUUUUUCK! But kids love them?!?!?!?! No idea why. I think they are slimy and gross but hey, to each their own. That being said, if the kids love them, then it's time to ENGAGE them in some learning activities. Learning outdoors is perfect for Spring weather!

If you have a pond or watery area then that would of course be perfect for looking for real frogs. If you have the nerve to do that. ME? No no.... I'll pass. I'd rather settle for some nice... slime free printables of frogs to search for outside! ;)

Here's what you'll need:

Eggs are a STEAL after Easter. You can stock up and find so many uses throughout the year. 

The printables are here.

And then stuff the eggs. Color coordinating your teams makes it fair . This can be for 2 kids or two groups.

Hide your eggs! I put one of each color but the yellow team can only get yellow eggs and green can only pick up green.

Lastly race to the finish. Instead of using this printable. A poster board that is bigger could be painted or give the two groups their own mats. 

Great STEM activity to get our early learners having fun, being active and engaged in SCIENCE.

Alligator Action Rhyme from Preschool Powol Packets
10 Favorite Outdoor Ball Games from Creative World of Varya
Chalkboard Pretend Play from Our Whimsical Days
Dandelion STEM Activities from My Bright Firefly
Froggy Fun Outdoors from Mrs. LeBlanc's Learners
Growing Tuff Spot from Tuff Spot Play
Ice Play from Kori at Home
Jungle Gym Fun  from Something 2 Offer
Let’s Go Fly a Kite from Something 2 Offer
Mud Kitchen Tuff Spot from Clare's Little Tots
Obstacle Course from Play & Learn Every Day
Exploring Life at the Pond from Natural Beach Living
Rock Painting for Kids from Something 2 Offer
Ways to Play with Sidewalk Chalk from Crafty Mama in ME
Underground Scavenger Hunt from Preschool Powol Packets
Water Play from My Bored Toddler
Xylophone Jars from CraftCreateCalm
Y is for Yellow Photography from Preschool Powol Packets
Our Zoo Atlanta Visit and Review from Crafty Mama in ME

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Difference of a Center Driven Classroom

Let's first talk about the set up of Kindergarten classrooms. Some have hopped on board with the alternative seating but mostly, it's tables and chairs which are perfectly conducive to worksheets and crafts. 

You don't have the multiple top sellers on TPT cranking out tons of No-Prep Printables (nicer sounding word for WORKSHEETS) if we aren't a little worksheet crazy in our Kindergarten classrooms. 

I'll admit it, worksheets are easy. They are perfect for assessing and data collection as well as filling extra time you may have here and there. Sub plans??? You mean a ton of busy work? Pretty much. This prepares them for what's ahead because let's face it, the state just wants to see standardized test scores improving.

However, a center driven classroom that is hands on looks much different and I made that switch from my first year to my second year and my kids scores completely changed.

Center Driven means NO worksheets besides maybe some recording sheets or journaling that goes along with the center. These classrooms are nosier and can seem chaotic to those that used to children sitting at their seats all the time.

My first year of teaching was mostly whole group teaching with song and dance, crafting, the occasional centers on "fun Friday," and worksheets. Now, at the end of that first year I had maybe 5 readers and that was it.

 Now, looking at my second year, it was completely flipped. Centers daily! Sometimes twice as that was the goal, whole group teaching with song and dance, morning messages, and MAYBE a single craft each week. No worksheets. I ended the year with maybe 5 students that COULDN'T read but were definitely on their way. Not only that, but my kids had the highest reading scores in my grade level based on my STAR 360 assessments. Talk about a huuuuge difference. I completely believe it's because of having a center driven classroom with CHOICE. 

Both worksheet driven and center driven have their pros and cons IMO but I can tell you that engaging activites are the key to learning and I have never found that worksheets are more engaging than a center. While I'm not trying to talk anyone into ditching the worksheets in favor of centers ( or am I? Muahaha) I do think that you should consider adding in centers to your classroom and you may never go back. 

One of the main reasons centers work for me is that they have a playful feel. Play is so important to development at this age and children really miss out on that if they are sitting at a desk doing worksheets or crafts all day. If you make your center feel like games then the kids will be much more engaged. Offering incentives for working on their stations properly and effectively will make them more motivated to record what they are doing for you. 

How do you deal with th fighting over centers and sharing??? 
Well it's easy. They don't share. I give each child their OWN center. Let me correct that... I let each child CHOOSE their own center. Now there are cases when a child isn't capable of working by themselves and I will give them a partner. There is also the ESL learner that benefits from the social interaction and I will give them a partner. As for everyone else, no partners. I've tried the 3-4 in a small group center and at this age I do not find that it works well at all. The point of this is academic, not social. We can work on social skills during other times such as morning meeting. 

Yes, a center for each child is a lot. I've worked my rear end off making this happen. I actually have 40 tubs(different centers), 4 word wall centers, 4 listening centers, 2 classroom computers and a classroom library for literacy choices.  Math is 24 baskets of activites, 4-10 frame centers, and sensory/graphing tub, and my 2 classroom computers.

I didn't accumulate this stuff over years and years. I have only been teaching 2 years. What I did do was take the advice of my principal. 

She told me "this is your craft, perfect it."

I have truly taken this words to heart and am driven to be the best teacher I can be. So that being said, I have invested a TON of time and effort in my classroom. Printing and laminating centers constantly but I will keep them forever and it's an investment that will pay off as I use them year after year. When I get overwhelmed I just take a break. 

How do they actually WORK...

CHOICE- I let them decide what they want to do based on our center wheel. I got the idea from a fellow teacher and this is a game changer. Year 1 I was more of a worksheet/craft teacher and I had a time more behavior problems and less engaged children. Year 2 our classroom has been center based and kid directed as they are in charge of what they do and this has made a huge difference. 

Year 3 will consist of perfecting my small group instruction and I can't wait to see what my children can achieve this coming year. 
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