Friday, November 29, 2013

Classroom Management Tips: Give Me Five!


Having had a placement in a Full day Kindergarten classroom, I learned very quickly that it is very important to have strong classroom management skills. After researching Classroom Management strategies while on my kindergarten placement, I was pointed in the direction of Barry Bennett's Bumps (this is just a brochure outlining the bumps, I read his textbook that a friend of mine lent to me). I liked that it gave simple instructions on how to deal with bad behaviour. 

Along with the bump system (all of the classes I taught in teacher's college had very few behaviour issues) I needed to really just get the students to listen and participate at carpet time. The first thing I looked up was the Give Me 5 poster on Pinterest, so I created one myself:

I posted this poster beside where I sat in the kindergarten room and reminded the students right away what five things I should see them doing at carpet time (they love to count along with their fingers). Sometimes during a lesson I would have to stop and remind the students of the five and bring their attention back to me and I really liked using this resource.

There are some other techniques that I use for when students are doing free play and I need to get them to clean up:

  • If you can hear me clap your hands once, if you can hear me clap your hands twice, if you can hear me, clap your hands three times.
  • Hands on top, that means stop (right now I am using this in the after school program that I work at and I think I need to try something else).
  • Saying "And the waterfall goes "shhhhhhhhhhh" while waving your hands down like a waterfall
I hope those tips were helpful. I feel that I am still working on my classroom management skills and it is something that I will continue to work on throughout my career working with children. 

Let me know if you have any classroom management techniques that you use when working with children.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

iPad Application Review: Endless Reader

First off, I would like to tell you all about a book blogging directory I am now on called If I have any readers from that site, hello and welcome!

I have already stated my love for the iPad Application, Endless Alphabet. This iPad application is great for children beginning their journey as emerging readers. My nephew is three-years-old and has been playing it since he was two-and-a-half. It is thanks to that application that he knows most of the letters in the alphabet. I'm not saying that at 3 he can read or anything but he can identify the letters when you ask him because in the application it says it aloud. To read my review on the Endless Alphabet application, please click here.

To my surprise, the company Originator Inc. came out with another application much like Endless Alphabet but called Endless Reader. Endless Reader is an application that uses the fun of monsters to teach children how to spell sight words (high frequency words that children learn to spell by being exposed to them often). To start the application, there will be an alphabetical list of words inside of a 3-eyed monster mouth and you click one of those words. Once a word is chosen, a bunch of monsters come rushing in to drop off a word and letters get all mixed up. Like a puzzle, you have to drag and drop the letters in the right place to spell the word (much like Endless Alphabet). However, there is still more to the application. Next comes a sentence that uses the sight word and two other sight words which are knocked out of the sentence. It is your job to drag and drop the sights back into the sentence. Finally, the sentence is said aloud and there is a little monster animation to go with it (my nephew watched an animation about eating ALL the cookies over and over again).

This application brought up my main issue with Endless Alphabet, the words were just too big for the age-range the application is suited for. For instance, a word like harvest is not a sight word for kids aged 4-7 but it is one of the words that is used in Endless Alphabet. Now, Endless Reader makes learning sight words fun and engaging. I would definitely recommend parents using this application with their children and I think it would be great in a FDK (full-day kindergarten) classroom or grade 1 and 2.

Let me know if you have tried this application and what you think of it. Are there other applications like this you think I should try with the students I tutor or my nephew?


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Children's Guided Reading Literature Haul

If there is one thing I love to spend my money on, it would be books. I love all kinds of books from fantasy to classics, to young adult fiction, I could spend my whole life just consuming all the books in the world. However, I don't have a whole lot of money having just graduated, so I spend my money on books for the kids I tutor.

Children's literature is the most fun book genre out there. Almost anything can happen. I recently went to my local Chapters bookstore and bought some books to read with the kids I tutor. Now, the kids that I tutor are behind in their reading and I can't just give them any children's book and expect them to be able to read it or even want to read it. What makes my life easier are when books are levelled to help determine what book is suitable for the child. Although not always accurate (the Doc McStuffins book I bought is a pre-k book but is way too advanced for kindergarten), I can look at the sentences in the books and determine whether they would be too challenging or just the right fit. 

I also purchased a book geared towards 8-12-year-olds by Neil Gaiman titled Fortunately, The Milk. What attracted me to this book was the illustrations and fantasy element to the novel. I think I will do a book review on this blog of the book when I have read it. I have read and can recommend a lot of Young Adult fiction but I have stopped reading children's novels. I noticed last year that I couldn't recommend much other than Harry Potter and Roald Dahl.

Here is the book haul that I purchased. The Doc McStuffins book has pictures within the sentences which I really find helpful the child.

I would love to know where to buy the PM benchmark books that the students use in the schools but I have yet to find them in the bookstore.

If you tutor or do guided reading with students, let me know what books you use. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. I would love to find new books to read with the kids I work with.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guided Reading Groups in Grade 5

Hello there!

Currently, I am volunteering in my Associate Teacher's classroom from last year doing some Grade 5 Guided Reading Groups. Knowing quite a bit about guided reading in the primary level, I am currently learning and creating plans for a junior level guided reading group. I have one group who are reading a Grade 3 level and another group who are reading at a Grade 5 level but need more confidence. So I am going to show you some of what I have been doing with the groups!

So the first resource that I use is the Guided Reading Cover sheet which you can find from Chrissy Beltram's TPT site. The next sheet that I use (mostly for the group reading at a Grade 3 level) is the Guided Reading Planning Sheets by blogger Erica's Ed-Ventures! Each time that I meet with the group, I give the students a different reading strategy and I use the Literacy Cafe strategies which I am familiar with because in two of my placements last year I helped run the Daily Five.

Right now, I am reading PM Benchmark Level H books with the group who reads at a Grade 3 level and with the group that needs a bit more self-confidence, we are reading Matilda! For word work, I have the students play Zap It! but with Grade 5 spelling words.

Let me know any strategies you have for running guided reading groups in the junior grades!