I'm Not Going Back

Saturday, July 18, 2020 No comments
Okay, so maybe the title is a little dramatic, but it's kind of true.

I'm not going back to my classroom this year.

Let's backtrack a little.

Like many (all?) of you, I was thrown into the world of distance learning last year with no training or preparation. I made the best of it. I actually think I did a pretty great job, all things considered. I had a large, challenging class last year, so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little relieved when summer came.

As I started to think about next school year, I became filled with anxiety. What will it look like? Will we be in the classroom? How often? How many students will I have? Will we be able to safely social distance? Will my kindergarten students be able to keep their masks on? Will they be scared? Will I be scared? The list goes on and on, and I was literally losing sleep over it.

Texted my principal, said I was feeling apprehensive, and she called me later that day. She started saying something about how there were so many families that had opted to keep their children at home, and the kindergarten numbers were low, and they were looking for a full-time e-learning teacher... I SCREAMED YES BEFORE SHE FINISHED PITCHING THE IDEA.

Immediate relief. For so many reasons. My wife and I have a 16 month old daughter. I didn't want to have to change my clothes and fully disinfect before I hugged her when I got home.

So, here I am, mentally preparing for teaching kindergarten fully online this year. Will it present its own unique set of challenges? Obviously. But, I'm excited as hell to make this the best damn year those kids will ever know.

Also, did I mention that I'm teaching ALL of the kindergarten students in my district that opted to stay home, so I'm literally in this by myself?

Stay tuned for tips, tricks, plans, activities, meltdowns, victories, and lots of bourbon.

Teaching From Home with Flipgrid

Sunday, March 22, 2020 No comments
It's been an interesting few weeks, that's for sure... Last week, we were talking about washing our hands a little more than normal, and this week we find ourselves at home, sort of in limbo. Last week, my darling daughter celebrated her first birthday, and the very next day was the last time I saw my kindergarten students. It all happened so fast, and I miss them more than they could ever know.
The district I teach at has not officially switched to online instruction, due to legal concerns of not meeting the needs of all learners, which is a decision I understand and respect. It does, however, put a teacher in an interesting position. I want my students to be have a sense of routine. I want my students to feel safe. I want them to know that I haven't forgotten about them.

One way that I've found to keep my students active and engaged is through Flipgrid. My students are already familiar with the platform, as we used it occasionally in the classroom. I am, though, starting to explore more aspects of the program, and I must say that I'm hooked. I've only scratched the surface of all that it's got to offer, but I thought I'd share some ideas that I've posted so far.

For Beginners:
You'll need to create a free account, and create a grid. If you teach multiple classes, you can create a grid for each class. When setting up a grid, I chose the "Student ID" option, because my kindergarten students do not have email addresses. It's super easy to add students. I used their first name as their identifier so that they don't have to remember complicated usernames or passwords.

Right now I have 3 topics created.
Normally, I have a topic set to "Active," like the Read to Someone example. For that topic, I recorded an instruction video asking the students to pick a book to read to their friends. We've done this in class, and they LOVE doing it. I created another reading topic called Storytime With Mr. Vinton, but I don't want the kids to be able to add videos to that section. In the dropdown menu, I set that topic to "Frozen," so that I could add videos of me reading picture books, but they could not add anything. You also have the ability to set a topic to "Hidden" if you're not ready for your students to have access to that topic yet, like my Make 10 example.

Do you use Flipgrid with your class? What kinds of activities have you done?

Teaching Plot with Mo Willems!

Thursday, January 24, 2019 No comments
Let's be real for a minute. Mo Willems is pretty much the coolest thing since sliced bread. My kinders BEG for me to read more and more of his books. They make for great read-aloud books, the characters are always getting into trouble, and they're also GREAT for teaching plot!

Knuffle Bunny is and has always been a Mo favorite of mine. I love the way Mo used cartoon on top of photographs, and the way that Trixie talks always makes for lots of giggles in the classroom! What I love most about Knuffle Bunny, though, is how simple the plot is at its core. When I teach plot, I love to keep it as simple as possible, without too many steps. 

I am OBSESSED with Lyndsey Kuster's Reading Comprehension Organizers and Posters. I bought the 1st grade set when I was still teaching up there, but SO many of the organizers are still relevant in kindergarten land. 

How adorable are these...

Do you have a favorite author or book for teaching plot?

Busy busy busy!

Monday, July 30, 2018 No comments
Howdy, ya'll! I've been creating like crazy the past few weeks and wanted to share some of the new things I just posted in my TPT store!

I taught a jumpstart program for incoming kindergarteners this summer and was looking for a little extra phonics practice... so I came up with these two fun phonics coloring packs!

I've also been making loads of mystery picture math fact pages. I used them at the end of last school year with my kindergarten students and they kept begging for more... so I figured I'd whip up a few over the summer!

AND, last but certainly not least...
I started this one a looooooong time ago and finally got around to finishing it! I wish I still taught first grade so I could use it! Here's what's included in this close reading pack...