Monday, October 24, 2011

Telling Time (FREEBIE)

Thanks to Pinterest and all of the wonderful ideas that are shared, I have used a teacher's idea for inspiration and I recreated a wonderful time telling game.  I always give credit where credits due but I do not know who the author of this game is.  The link from Pinterest just brought me to a picture of this game.   Anyways, if you recognize this game and know who created it, please let me know so I can give proper credit. Anyways, here is my version of Time Is UP!  Feel free to download it and use it with your kiddos.  You will have to create your own time pieces, but the game boards are here for free. Enjoy!

Time is Up- Hour and Half Hour

Time is Up- Hour only

Monday, October 17, 2011

I'VE REACHED 100 FOLLOWERS: Here is a freebie for you all!

YA!!! I have reached 100 followers. Thank you to everyone who has joined my blog.  I hope you have enjoyed everything I have shared.  I am so thankful to all of you for the wonderful ideas you share!

In honor of my 100 followers, my student teacher has generously donated Math Mission Guidelines for all of you!  We have turned math into math missions. The students are agents that need to crack the code.  Each mission is the lesson for the day.  The math mission is delivered to our room everyday and the kids are so excited to crack the code!  The math mission guidelines were adapted from an idea found on Pinterest.  We introduce each guideline on at a time and review them each day!  Here is a picture of our math mission envelope.  Also here is a picture of our mission from today!

Here is the PDF file for the guidelines.  Free to you from Melissa Goulet in honor of my 100 followers!

Math Guidelines

What have the Zakar's been up to?.....

It has been a busy couple of weeks here at Beal School.  I cannot believe that it is already mid October.  Let me tell you about a few things we have been up to.  Daily 5 is off and running and the kids are really starting to understand how to choose books that are just right for them.  We have learned the IPICK song (ask your child to sing it to you), which helps us remember how to choose a just right book.  I- I choose my books?, P- Purpose: Why am I reading this book?, I- Interest: Do I enjoy the book I am reading?, C- Comprehend: Do I understand what I am reading?, and K- Know: Do I know most of the words?  The kids really enjoy this song and I will post a video of them singing it soon, so stay tuned!

Last week I decided that it was time to revamp my library.  I wanted all my books out and have them sorted by genre.  I have been teaching for 7 years, so you can imagine the amount of books I have.  This was a big job, so one afternoon, we decided to do the Great Book Sort.  I had all the kids help me sort our books so it would be easier to find books we are interested in.  I also added a brand new shelf to allow more books to be displayed.  Here are some pics of the process and the final product!

 All my literacy assessments are done and I am off and running with the Cafe.  This is what I base my mini-lessons on and how I keep record of my students progress.  My goal is to see 2-3 guided reading groups a day and to have 4-5 one-to-one reading conferences a day.  We will see how that works out.  Here are the strategies that I have already taught.  They are already constantly using these strategies while they are reading!  Soon they will have a tool belt of strategies to help them become better readers. 

Here is my new interactive Daily 5 Check in board.  They just drag their picture to their choice and if all the spaces are taken, they will know they have to make a new choice!  This is working extremely well and we talk a lot about making sure they get to every daily 5 choice by the end of the week!

Doesn't it look fantastic?  I love it and so do the kids.

For fun Friday last week, Miss Goulet read us the story "Fletcher and the Falling Leaves"  We used many strategies during this story.  We made mental images to better understand the story. We stopped in the middle of reading and checked for understanding.  We made predictions and made connections.  After the story we used the mental images we made about the fall trees and the winter trees to make beautiful pictures.  Take a look at some of their wonderful work.

That's all for now. Have a great week!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


So this is a re-post from last year, so  I decided to re-post all of the math games because I am so grateful for everything that I have learned and acquired from all of my fellow bloggers and pinners!

Strategies Galore- Thank goodness for the CAFE

You would have thought that I gave the kids the best news in the world this morning.  Sounds of joy filled the room as I told the kids we would have time for one more rotation of The Daily 5.  If you didn't hear my words, you would have thought I gave them extra recess or a special snack.  But no, they were that excited at the possibility to do more work, to learn something new, to gain more knowledge.  It can't get better than that.  As the Daily 5 continues to be a success, it is time to start teaching these young sponges the strategies that they will need to become better readers and writers.  If we don't teach children how to help themselves during reading, then the goal is not to make sure they become independent readers.  These reading strategies are not innate.  They must be taught and practiced so as the children progress in reading, they are able to take care of their own learning by problem solving.  They will have this tool belt of strategies and they will use the strategies that work best for them.  In order to get to that place, they need to have an abundant of time to practice each one!  That is what the CAFE Menu is all about. To quote The Sisters, Jane Moser and Gail Boushey, from their website, "Assessing young readers involves more than determining a reading level and moving them onto the next. We developed the CAFE™ Menu to help students understand and master different strategies used by successful readers. "

So far I have introduced three strategies from the CAFE menu.  For those of you who don't know, CAFE stands for C= comprehension, A= accuracy, F= fluency, and E= expanding vocabulary.
This is what my CAFE wall looks like.

So far I have introduced two accuracy strategies and one comprehension strategy.  For accuracy we have talked about and practiced Abundance Easy Reading, which is self explanatory.  We have also practiced Flip The Vowel.  With this strategy the kids need to notice when something does not make sense.  For example, a child may sound out the word /find/ with the short vowel for the i.  They would realize that didn't make sense, so they should flip the vowel sound and try sounding it out with the long vowel sound.  This is a strategy the children use often.  While you are reading with the children and you prompt them with "flip the vowel", they will know just what to do!  As for the comprehension strategy we have learned and practiced, it is called Check For Understanding.  This is where they stop in the middle of reading and ask themselves if they understand what is going on.  They ask the 5 W's questions and if they are able to answer them they may keep reading, but if they don't know what is happening, they must back up and re-read.  We review each strategy daily and as soon as I am done with my Developmental Reading Assessments, I will conduct 1:1 reading conferences so that each child may choose a reading goal. I can't wait to get started with that!

To say I am happy with The Daily 5 and The C.A.F.E is an understatement.  What is better than the children's outward excitement to learn!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Hello all parents,

I'm so sorry I didn't get this information to you sooner.  My raz kids account has changed.  It is no longer under Alice Brennan.  I got my own account.  So, when it asks for teacher login name, it is szakar and then you will see all of your kids name.  I hope that you take advantage of this wonderful literacy tool.  Watch out for this:  Some kids just go through the stories without even reading just to get the points.  Please watch as your children use raz kids to make sure they are really reading.  Some children just want to get to a higher level and so they kind of cheat.  Please make sure your child is actually reading the stories.  All of the kids love this program so please take advantage of this free (PTO) reading tool..

Pinterest- My Crazy Obsession

Hello all,

Ok, so if you don't know, I have trouble allocating my attention.  Sometimes I cannot maintain my attention and sometimes I over attend to the point where I get stuck in an activity.  I also have a very addictive personality.  My love for seeking new ideas, my inability to allocate my attention, and my addictive personality, all led to my new obsession.. PINTEREST!  My student teacher, Miss Goulet, introduced me to pinterest and I've been non-stop pinning ever since!  My record is 4 straight hours of pinning and searching.  So what is Pinterest?  If you are like me and have attention issues and an addictive personality, I warn you that you will be completely obsessed.  So pinterest.. it is a virtual pin board.  Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.  Well, there are ridiculous amounts of teachers who use pinterest and share their ideas.  My teaching life has been changed forever.  I love that we can use pinterest as a springboard for collaboration with teachers from all over the world.  Pinterest gets my creative juices flowing and I can't tell you how much I appreciate all those teachers out there who are "pinning" such great ideas.  If you would like to see my pins, click here.  I hope you enjoy all the good ideas I have pinned.