Friday, April 8, 2016

From A Photo To A Story

I love using real photographs to spark children's interest in storytelling. Many photographs stir our imagination. A photograph is rooted in the real world, so it provides children with a real life framework with which they can create a story. Students can express that story  in an oral or written form.

You can use photos to spark your students' imaginations and as a meaningful and authentic writing prompt.

You can use many different types of photographs.

  • Use photos of yourself and your family. Students have a real fascination about the life of their teacher outside of the classroom. By sharing a piece of your "other" life, you are sharing a piece of yourself with each child.
  • Use photos of the children in your class. Almost every child loves to see themselves in a photo. It is even more exciting for them, when they see their picture as part of the instructional materials. They are famous, relevant, and special for that small moment in time.
  • Use interesting photos from magazines. Make it a quick part of your routine to grab interesting pictures out of magazines that you browse.
  • Utilize the many photographs that are available on the web. Pinterest is a great resource for so many educational resources. photographs included. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to Picture Writing Prompts
  • Check out my newest freebie, From Photos to Stories. It includes labels to create your own anchor charts, a graphic organizer, and a hilarious photo of my cat. All of it you can use with your own class or children. Head over to my blog to pick up your freebie.
Stay tuned for more "From Photos to Stories". More are on the way!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Shine the Spotlight on Star Students!

Hello Friends!

It's Jennifer from Stories and Songs in Second here!  I'm dropping in during my spring break to share some ideas about how to keep your students on track, sparkling, shining, and putting forth good effort as they head into the end-of-the year homestretch.

I know that my crew in Room #2 currently needs SOMETHING to "hocus pocus keep them more focused during our last days together, so I came up with some ideas and fun materials to help make that happen!

Shine the spotlight on star students with ideas, materials, and activities that reward effort and positive behavior choices.

My plan is to spotlight one deserving student each day, and shower special privileges and fun supplies upon them!  I was inspired by this VIP STUDENT post from Rachel over at The Tattooed Teacher, but felt that I needed to individualize and simplify it a bit.

I have to admit that fourth quarter is often a long and arduous one for me--full of data-collection, assessments, meetings, etc.  It is a time when the paperwork piles sometimes outweigh the smiles I share with my little people.  I am making a vow that when I return to school on April 4th, I am going to remember this quote.  I read or heard it somewhere, but unfortunately have no idea who to attribute it to.  It speaks volumes to me about what my priority as an educator should be ......

I plan to infuse our final nine weeks as a classroom family with a sense of excitement and renewed enthusiasm, and hope that giving each student one special day to shine in the spotlight as our 
will do just that!  

Each day's STAR STUDENT will enjoy the following......

*Alternative seating in a bean bag, scoop rocker, or camp chair instead of sitting at a desk during work time...

*A special sign for their chosen seat and 
designated, decorated area...

*A special "brag tag" to wear all day and then 
keep as a souvenir...

*A basket of fancy-schmancy supplies to use 
like Mr. Sketch markers, Twistable crayons, 
and Post-It notes... 

* A variety of special privileges, responsibilities, and rewards that the class has brainstormed together like having
a front row seat at story time, leading the line,  or eating lunch 
with the teacher...

*A special poem that the entire class chants for them
and follows up with a standing ovation or a 
"round of applause"...

*A special  certificate signed by the teacher...

*A special writing project to help them reflect on 
their favorite part(s) of being the 

*Publishing their writing in a class Memory Book
to be kept in a binder and shared with next year's students...

Two wonderful mentor texts to share before you implement your STAR STUDENT activities are
Stand Tall, Mollie Lou Melon and Have Fun, Mollie Lou Melon

These heartwarming and humorous picture books, written by Patty Lovell and illustrated by 
David Catrow, share the importance of believing in yourself, embracing your own uniqueness,
and "letting your light shine."

The best way to end each STAR STUDENT's day is with a modified version of Queen's 
"We Will Rock You" anthem!  Honor every child with a.....

  Stomp! Stomp! Clap!
Stomp! Stomp! Clap!
You are!
You are!
Stomp! Stomp! Clap!
Stomp! Stomp! Clap!

...and send them home with a smile!

And don't forget to let the STAR STUDENT choose his or her favorite Go Noodle brain breaks to enjoy between lessons or when bad weather dictates indoor recess!  

If you'd like to shine the spotlight on your students before the school year ends, you can grab all of the printables, posters, and brag tags featured in this post {HERE}!

Everything in my store is 20% off through Monday, March 28th!

As always, thanks for stopping by to share my story!  

Continue to hold a song in your heart and teach your children well!

Be sure to follow my Pinterest boards to find more great ideas for your classroom!

Printables, brag tags, posters, and activities to use as student incentives and reward for positive behavior.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Lucky Linky from The Primary Pack

Top O' The Morning To You!

Welcome to our March Lucky Linky party!  We are rounding up all things St. Patrick's Day-related here at The Primary Pack this week!  We thought we'd make it easy for you to find all things green on our blogs and in our stores!  May all Irish eyes smile upon you as leprechaun fun infuses the learning in your classroom!

Please hop through the resource and blog links below to find fun holiday resources and activities that are sure to keep your little leprechauns engaged and excited about learning!  Be sure to grab this complimentary FREEBIE from the list!  It includes bag toppers for rainbow-colored snacks like Skittles, Twizzlers, or Starbursts, as well as cute bookmarks!

I created them for the "ShamROCK and READ!" party that my second graders are hosting for our fifth grade buddies next week!  I can't wait to share my newest addition to my favorite folktale collection with our friends, What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting!

As always, thanks for continuing to support our colorful and collaborative group of bloggers!  We hope that you'll stop back often!  May this Irish saying brighten your day and guide your way!

Before you hop over to visit the blogs of more Primary Pack members, be sure to check out my
Pinterest board for more St Patrick's Day ideas!

Follow Jennifer Boney-Reynolds's board St. Patrick's Day Ideas on Pinterest.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Reader's Workshop vs the Daily 5 Dilemma and a Freebie

Reader's Workshop vs The Daily 5

My Dilemma

Our school has done the Daily 5 for many years and I absolutely love it!  My second grade students are really able to work on their own within the different components of the CAFE.  I am amazed at how independent they become!  Along with the Daily 5 we have always used a traditional reading series to make sure we target the comprehension strategies and have a program that spirals from one year to the next.  However next year that will all change!  Our district is taking away our reading series and replacing it with Reader's Workshop.  YIKES!  It is like pulling a safety net out from underneath me. I have been doing some research on what is "Reader's Workshop."  It seems like a more structured version of the Daily 5.  Please leave comments for me and steer me in the right direction if I am off base.  I am looking for feedback!   If you have a preference and would like to share which model you prefer using in your classroom please comment below.  Thank you so much!

When I do my guided reading groups in the Daily 5, I structure the groups based on the student's Fountas and Pinnell reading level.  The leveled readers are from our traditional reading series so they go along with the comprehension skill that we are teaching that week.  The comprehension skill is taught with the Big Book on Monday in a whole group setting and each story throughout the week focuses on that skill.   In the guided reading groups I can reteach the comprehension skill or expand on it depending on the needs of the group.  Students are assigned to work on the different stations while I meet with small groups.  They Read to Self from their leveled book boxes.  The Working with Words station address the phonics skill of the week.  The Work on Writing station starts off with a mini lesson that I teach to the whole class. Then the students receive an organizer, rubric, draft paper and instructions to complete their writing task throughout the week.  I also have built in conference time for students as they finish their organizer and their draft.  Maybe I am doing Reader's Workshop and don't even realize it!!!  I hope so ....   I will find out when I go for training in April!

The research I have done seems to indicate that Reader's Workshop Philosophy incorporates a Mini Lesson, Guided Practice, and Independent Practice.  The teacher then uses the independent practice time to pull mini guided reading groups based on reading level of the students.  They use a different time in their day to teach Writer's Workshop and phonics instruction/word work.  My biggest concern is ... Will there be enough time after Reader's Workshop to fit in the other components of ELA instruction?  The Daily 5 design along with the spiraled curriculum, leveled readers, and ready made materials from our traditional reading series made it manageable to fit everything in and see wonderful results! Our district is in the top 5 of the 197 districts in our area.  It is just so SCARY to CHANGE when we have had such great success and things are going so well!  When they take it all away, I will literally be creating everything we need to address the Common Core Standards with no ready made materials.........FRIGHTENING!   Feel free to give SUGGESTIONS:)

In preparation for the BIG CHANGE I have been thinking about how I will teach comprehension strategies without having a skill of the week from the traditional series to focus on.  So I created my own comprehension strategy pack for my second grade class.  I have structured it in the same way as Reader's Workshop:  Mini Lesson, Guided Practice, and Independent Practice.  When I finished the packet, I had addressed 19 Comprehension Strategies and ended up with over 200 pages of materials ready to use in whole group and small group instruction.  I would love to share my Story Elements strategy packet with you to thank you for helping me sort through my Reader's Workshop vs. Daily 5 Dilemma.  I will be posting the entire packet soon!  Thanks in advance for all of your comments and wonderful suggestions!

Story Elements FREEBIE

Thanks a Bunch!
Kelly Kennedy

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Read Across America with the Primary Pack!

Greetings from our colorful box of bloggers!

The week ahead heralds the integration of all things Dr. Seuss-related in classrooms across the U.S., and we thought it would be fun to link-up our best ideas in one convenient place for you!

Wonderful rhymes, favorite books, sensational snacks, creative name it....we've collaborated to provide you with a round-up of resources that will surely make your classroom learning celebration the best one yet!

Once you've hopped through each blog post, scooped up any freebies you find, and pinned all of our great ideas, be sure that you are following The Primary Pack on social media!  You don't want to miss any future events, freebies, and fantastic blog posts!

As always, thanks so much for your continued support and patronage!
Stay colorful!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Motivating Readers with Sight Word Money (Freebie Included!)

We all know that when children are learning how to read, sight words are a very important part of the process. These words are a big part of the reading material we use in the classroom, but many of them do not follow the basic phonetic rules, therefore they can't be sounded out. Some children learn their sight words quickly and others have no interest at this time. So we were looking for a fun and engaging way to motivate our children to WANT to learn their words.

So we talked and talked and thought about many different ideas and came up with sight word "money".
Who doesn't love money? Who doesn't like to earn something for their hard work? 

Seriously, best ever!! Our children are so excited to learn their sight words and earn their sight word money! They are excited, they are motivated, they are learning, AND they are reading!!!!

We teach many sight words throughout the school year, however, we have a list of 50 words that are assessed on our Kindergarten Literacy Assessment. These are the words we chose to track for the school year. We made 50 "dollar bills", each one with a different sight word shown. We also added a back side to the money for the children to write their name and the date they earned it.

We decided to make them black and white so the children could color their money and give them their own personal touch. We want them to show their pride in a job well done!

We also made a "Sight Word Wallet" for the children to store their money and to keep track of the words earned. We put the list on the back of the "wallet."

One of the great things about the Sight Word Money is the ability to differentiate expectations based on the child, the marking period, or any other criteria you would like to use. Our goals are based on the words taught during that marking period as well as what the child's reading level is. We highlight the words for each marking period using a different color highlighter. When the word has been mastered, we check off the word and the child earns their dollar.

We like to "try" (haha) to be organized at the beginning of the school year and get as many things copied as we can. We run off a class set of the money in the beginning of the school year and cut them apart. We don't cut them out completely, we let the children do that part. We found the most perfect storage folders at Target. You will need a few of these to store you sight words if you do many words like we did. They are easily accessed and they were stored best in ABC order.

In addition to receiving their money, we also reward the children in other ways. We want to keep them excited and keep them learning also. Some of the different incentives we use are:
brag tags
terrific ticket
free book
special snack with teacher

We also give them a brightly colored and adorable certificate when they read all 50 sight words!

We asked the children what they thought about the sight word money. Here were some of their answers:
"I love it!"
"I think it's awesome!"
"It's cute!"
"It makes us rich!"

How true that last statement is! It makes them rich in so many ways!

These proud faces say it all:

Lastly, we have a special treat just for you!
We are offering these Sight Word Money templates to you for FREE!! Oh, and they are editable! This way you can personalize them to your class!

They will only be free until February 29, 2016 so don't miss out!
You can download your freebie here or by clicking on the picture below. We hope your students enjoy earning "money" as much as ours do! Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!