Sunday, 15 November 2015

Sight Word Tracking & Assessing

Keeping track of sight words has been a lot easier with my Sight Word Track & Assess tool.
Click on the picture above to check it out on TPT.

There are three different ways this can be used;

1) Track on a whole class sheet
2) Track on individual assessment sheets
3) Track on a whole class sheet and an individual sheet

I prefer doing option 3. Yes, it means more work for me, but it means that at the end of the year, I'll have a sheet which I can pass onto the next teacher so that they don't have to start again from scratch. It also means I can easily see trends on the whole class sheet to plan my guided sessions.

Here's a peek at whats included in the pack;

Whole class tracking sheet
Boxes are highlighted when students can read the word. I use a different coloured highlighter each time to show progression. I record the key at the top of the page.

I love this, as it's easy to see which words need to be taught/retaught and any common patterns.


I prefer holding flashcards up rather than having students read of the sheet. I find that some students become overwhelmed when they see a sheet full of words. Print on coloured card if you want to sort them into different levels or look a bit more exciting than plain white.

Individual Assessment Sheet

This can be used to keep a record that can be passed onto the next teacher. Hold up flashcards and highlight if the student can read the word. Once again, use a different coloured highlighter if you want to track progression.

Click on the picture below to find it on TPT.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Guided Writing

This year has been a big learning curve for me in terms of teaching. The school I'm at has had a big focus on 'guided groups', which has changed the way I teach.

I've been experimenting with Guided Writing Groups. I'm no expert on the subject but so far, I have seen a big growth in my students writing. Here's how I run guided writing in my classroom.

#1 - Plot students on the 'Aspects of Writing' section of the Literacy Continuum
In NSW, we have a Literacy Continuum. We use this to track student progress and see the 'where to next'. This helps us plan and develop activities which target specific needs.

#2 - Group students according to where they sit on the continuum.
Once students have been plotted, I form my groups based on what 'cluster' they're at.

#3 - Develop a goal
I then look at the 'where to next' and choose a point to focus on. For Kindergarten the goals for the year are;

I can leave spaces between the words (cluster 2)
I can use capital letters and full stops (cluster 3)
I can sound out words that I don't know to help me write them (cluster 3 & 4)
I can correctly spell sight words (cluster 4)
I can write more than one sentence (cluster 4)
I can add detail to my sentence by using adjectives (cluster 5)

I have these on display as a step chart. Student names are on a pencil and the pencils are moved according to what goal they are working on.

#4 - The Session - No more than 4 students
What we write about depends on what we are learning about at the time.

I use a log book to take notes and keep track of what we have covered.

The log book has a space at the top for the group goal and space for anecdotal notes on what writing behaviours each student displays. At the end of the week, once all sessions have been complete, I look back over the notes and make any necessary adjustments to groups or goals.

In the session I provide each student with targeted support. Having a small group means that I am able to provide individualised support for each student.

Once students have completed their writing, I mark their work with them. I have a rubric that relates to each goal;

I refer to this rubric when marking and giving feedback. Usually the number of ticks or stamps refers to how well they've achieved their goal ("working towards", "almost there" and "I've got it"). I've also developed a tracking sheet (right image) to use for next year to help keep my student portfolios neater.

That's pretty much it. If you're interested in the pack, you can find it by clicking here or on the picture below :)

Visual Word Wall

The visual word wall has always been the most used 'interactive' wall in my classroom.

What is a visual word wall and how does it differ from a word wall? The cards have a picture to match the word. This assists students in finding the word that they are looking for. Working in a school with a high population of ESL students, I can't ever imagine using a word wall with no visuals.

Here are some pictures of my Word Wall over the years;

These aren't neat because these walls get used everyday. Let's be honest no working word wall is ever going to stay tidy!

I've had different ways of organising the cards; no organisation, nouns/verbs/adjectives and alphabetically. Overall my favourite way is the alphabetical method. This saves a LOT of time when finding words and aids in reinforcing letter/sound relationships. 

Sorting the cards alphabetically also lends itself to playing fun games such a word hunt - say a word and have students find it on the word wall.

The word cards are based on words that students would use most often. I update the cards when I see a common need or when words keep popping up in student writing.

Check out my Visual Word Wall by clicking the picture below. The cards with items like iPad, PlayStation and Mc Donald's are not included. However I've left blank cards in the product if you would like to make your own for use in your own classroom.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Comparing Numbers

It's nearing the end of the school year here in Australia, so one thing that we've all been doing is going through the syllabus and making sure that we've covered each content strand.

Looking through the syllabus, the team all agreed that we needed more work on the strand; comparing numbers to determine 'how many more'

As a team, we decided on the best way to teach this concept and that this would be the modelled part of our guided maths session.

#1 - Get two groups of objects (can be counters, unfix cubes, etc).

#2 - Line up objects side by side, making sure the objects match/have a partner.

#3 - Look at where the matches stop and separate the objects that don't have a partner.

#4 - The objects that don't have a partner tell us 'how many more' are in the group.

When introducing the concept, stick to examples that don't have a huge difference i.e do 7 and 4 not 5 and 20. Keep it simple with small differences. Work on larger differences in the guided group part.

Of course, I want my students to be applying this independently while I am working with my small groups, so I made two centers that work on developing this skill.

Activity #1

In this activity, students pick a card and place that many counters/cubes on the top row. They pick another card and place that many counters/cubes on the bottom row. They then look at where the matching stops to determine 'how many more' and write the number at the bottom.

The grid is a great way for students to make sure the objects are lined up properly. If the objects are not lined up, then this strategy falls apart.

Activity #2
In this activity, students pick a card and make towers that correspond with the numbers. To find out how many more, students break the tower so that they become even. The amount broken off will reveal 'how many more'.

Students can then write the answer on the line.

Very simple, yet effective activities for students to develop this skill. You can find this product by clicking on the picture below :)

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Monday, 5 October 2015

New Term, New Centers!

Tomorrow will be the start of Term 4! For the non-Aussie teachers out there, that means the last 11 weeks of the school year. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone! Feels like just a few months ago it was the start of the year. Yikes!

Centers have been a big part of our daily routine this year. I'm always swapping them around to keep things interesting. Of course, now that it's nearing the end of the year, my kiddos are outgrowing the centers that I've been using. So I spent my holidays making some new centers that focus on the skills that we have been working on. Here are just a few that I'm excited to introduce this week;

Initial Sounds Detective - CVC Edition 

This activity requires students to look at the picture and work out the initial sound. They then write it in the box underneath the picture. The letters will spell out a CVC word. I love this activity because it's a great way to revise initial sounds and practise letter formation. Check it out here.

CVC - Race to Cover

This activity requires students to read a CVC word and see if they have a match on their board. This is a great way for students to practise sounding out. Check it out here.

CVC Clip It!

Students look at the picture, say the word and then clip the correct spelling with a peg. A great way to practise sounding out and develop fine motor skills! Check it out here.

Subtraction Math Centers

Three activities that require students to use subtraction to find the answer. Check it out here.

Domino Math Centers

Dominoes are a great way to incorporate key math skills in the classroom. These are just two out of the three domino activities in my Domino Math Centers pack.

The best part about all of these centers? they don't require too much cutting and there are no fiddly pieces! :)

Keep up to date with all my new products and sales by following my TPT Store, Twitter or Facebook page.

Happy teaching!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

STEM in Kindergarten

My Kindergarten class has been participating in STEM type challenges for the past 4 weeks. I'm loving it and so are the students!

I should probably clarify that I am no expert, all that I know about STEM is from reading blogs and looking at Pinterest. It caught my eye because it looked like a lot of fun and my students seem to really enjoy hands on science and math activities.

For our first challenge we did 'Build a house that the Big Bad Wolf can't blow down'. For this challenge, students could only use masking tape, paddle pop sticks, matchsticks and rubber bands.
The Big Bad Wolf was myself and my support teacher. We created a wind by frantically flapping a plastic document wallet.

As this was the first session, I didn't really go into the design process. I just wanted to see if this would actually work in my room; would anything be built? would it cause fights? would it cause tears? I also wanted to see what we needed to work on in order for this to become a weekly activity.

Overall the first session was a success. The houses that were built were pretty stable. Only 2 out of the 10 fell over. I was quite proud. Though one thing that we needed to work on was the concept of "working together as a team" and the notion of a growth mindset.

So I whipped up this resource to tackle the teamwork problem.

It's a poster set with each social skill and what each skill actually means. It's all good to say "you need to work together" but what does that actually look like? What needs to be done? This pack makes it pretty explicit.

Our second challenge was 'Build a boat that will carry two teddies'. Before starting this challenge, I went through the skill cards and we discussed what each one meant and what it looked like. I hung up the prompt cards on the board as a visual reminder. I also introduced two Growth Mindset phrases which can be found on these two FREE posters. Click on the picture to get your own copy.
We went into the challenge chanting these!
Introducing the social skills before the session made a difference. I noticed that there was a lot more sharing, communication and teamwork during this session. Success!

For the boat, students used foil, straws, paper cups and masking tape. For the two teddies we used teddy bear counters.

Some of the boats were pretty fancy, I was not expecting them to be so elaborately designed. Most floated but some started to sink after a while.

At the end of the session, we walked around and looked at each boat. Then we came to the floor and talked about what we discovered. For the boats that sunk, I asked the groups why they thought it happened and what could they do next time to fix it.

Our third challenge was 'Build the tallest tower you can using only pipecleaners'. Once again, before starting, we talked about social skills and got into the notion of a growth mindset "I can! I can! I can!".

In this session, I noticed more students working on fixing their existing designs rather than just starting again all the time - which is part of the 'improve' phase. Not that I have explicitly taught these phases yet! That will be the next step now that the teamwork aspect has been covered.

I should also mention, that while students are completing the challenges I go around to each group and we have a brief discussion about what is happening. This is a great way to hear student thinking and prompt them in improving their design.

We have a STEM wall in our classroom. I take photos during each session and while we are having our reflection at the end, I scribe what the students have discovered. It's then hung up on the wall.

My display :)

This week I'm going to go through the Engineering Design Process and get some planning down. I'm thinking of doing this on the mini-whiteboards as this will allow them to change and rub out easily. Especially as this will be the first time and I'm anticipating that there will be a lot of rubbing out! This will link in perfectly with what we have being doing in maths - recording our working/thinking.

The only problem is deciding on what challenge to do next! There are so many awesome ideas!

If you are thinking of doing STEM in your classroom, go for it! It has a number of benefits including;

1. Fine motor skills
2. Teamwork
3. Problem solving
4. Critical thinking
5. Creative thinking
6. Communication & reasoning

Saturday, 25 July 2015

100 Days of Kindergarten

This week we celebrated 100 days of Kindergarten.

I'd seen and read heaps of super cool ideas on Pinterest and had been eagerly counting the days since the start of the year. Originally I was just going to have the fun day with my own class, but thought it would be a nice day for all of Kindergarten to share. So I organised the day for my team. It was fun organising/being in charge of an event. I have never done something like this before, so it was also a valuable learning experience for me. Would I do it again? DEFINITELY! 200 days of school here we come! :P

Here's what we got up to;

1. Literacy - "I wish I had 100...." & "If I had $100 I would...."
This was a great talking & listening activity. Students had to finish the sentence and then justify their answer.

We used this super cute graphic organiser from Kim Ouellette.
2. Science/STEM - A 100 Cup Structure
Students worked in small groups to work out which was was best for building a tall but stable paper cup structure. We then came back as a class and discussed what we discovered. We then used this information to build a structure as a whole class. We got to 75 cups, but then it fell over. Unfortunately, we did not get to rebuild as we had to go to the library. Nevermind, we will be going back to the challenge sometime this week and refining our design.

3. PE - Centathlon
Centathlon = 100 repetitions.
I set up a circuit with different stations. Each station had a simple activity such as hop on your right lge 10 times or do 10 starjumps. All up it was 100 repetitions. This was a fun way to get outside, get active and do a bit of counting. It did tire a lot of people out though.

4. Craft - 100 Day Crowns
Students decorated their crowns with 100 things such as paper strips, circles, squares, triangles etc. We used this adorable template from My Heart Belongs in Kindergarten (yes, there is a boy version).
Overall my favourite activity was the STEM challenge. I've been doing a lot of research into different types of activities that we can do (thanks Pinterest and teacher blogs!). Am looking forward to starting STEM this week. I've even made a display, which is currently on my back wall ready to go. You can check it out here :D

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


In celebration of reaching the first TPT milestone, I am offering a Flash Freebie! Click on the picture below to get your own copy.

These are a great visual reminder for "Turn & Talk" times in your classroom. I have these stuck on my mini whiteboard and refer to them all the time.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

April Currently

This is my first time linking up with Farley for her "Currently" linky party.

Listening: It's been raining since yesterday. I like the sound of the rain, but only when I'm indoors. There's just something nice and comforting about being inside when it's all gloomy and wet outside.

Loving: I am not a summer person. I hate humidity. It makes me feel so uncomfortable, so this cooler weather we have had for the past two days has been wonderful. It's going to get hot again next week, but luckily for me, I will not be here...

Thinking: I leave for Japan in 4 days! Oh my gosh! I am very excited because I have wanted to go to Japan since I studied it in year 7! I also get to go to Disneysea which is another thing I have been wanting to do since forever! (well not forever, but you get my point. I have always wanted to go to Disneyland/sea).

Wanting: I need to get some ink (don't we all?). However I don't want to walk in the rain. I'm hoping the rain will stop for a few hours so I can get some ink without getting soaked.

Needing: My bag is packed, I just need to print out the accommodation vouchers and flight itineraries and to do that, I need ink.

EGGS-plain: I started this blog to share what I have been doing and blog about interesting ideas. So I figured; tales = stories and Miss D = me, so Tales From Miss D. It's kind of a dopey name and I get embarrassed telling people what my blog is called, but at the same time I like it.

I will be away for 3 weeks, so I won't be updating this blog again until the start of May. I'm going to try and be a good blogger and post more frequently :)

Have a happy and safe Easter!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Five for Friday!

Once again I am linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday

I really need to get back in the habit of doing weekly blogs, but I never have the time! So here are 5 things that have been happening since I last posted :)

The prize box in my room has been introduced. This works in two ways; raffle and Student of the Week. On Friday afternoon, I pull a name out of the box and the student gets to pick a prize (10 dojo points = 1 ticket). I also have Student of the Week, where the student gets a fancy award and gets to pick a prize and I make a little speech about why the student earned the title.

The things in my box are just simple party nick-nacks that can be picked up for a couple of dollars. I always have; mini trophies, medals, bracelets, wants, dinosaurs and ball animals.

We have been working a lot on our letters and sounds. My alphabet packs have come in handy. The best part about these is that the activities are the same so that once students are familiar with the activity, they build confidence in completing it by themselves.

That is my hand and my example sheets :)

We are still working on our numbers. The most popular games are Roll & Build and Number Fishing.

We also created Number Dalmatians!

This week was senses week. We learnt about our five senses by doing various sensory activities and discussion about each.

I am super excited because next week we are learning about animal senses and linking it to our senses. Have spent the past couple of hours researching and making Glogsters with lots of pictures and videos. I think animals are very interesting to learn about.

I don't have a picture for this one, but this week we have been focusing on the sight words; I, am, a. We have a box of guided reading books in our room so I picked out the ones that follow the structure "I am ...". I told the students that they would be able to read it now that they know two of the words. They were skeptical at first, but then once they actually read a page they were quite proud of themselves. Seeing their faces light up in excitement when they realised that they had read the book by themselves was awesome! Proud teacher over here :D

That's it from me, have a great weekend! Check out the other blogs in the linky!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Five for Friday! (on a Saturday)

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday!

Numbers 0 to 10

We have been working on recognising, writing and representing numbers 0 to 10. Everyday we have been working with flash cards, counters and other math manipulatives.

Flashcards and a worksheet from my Subitising pack on TPT. Click on the picture to check it out!

I am quite happy with the progress I am seeing already. At the start of the year, if I asked students to give me __ counters, they would count out/give me the whole pile. Now pretty much all of my students know that number I tell them, is the number they have to stop at. 

On Friday, I taught them the Roll & Build game from my Numbers to 10 Math Stations pack. We played whole class, boys VS girls. It was a hit and they are eager to play the game in pairs next week!

Letters A, M, S
We have been working on the letters A, M, S. I do this in small groups while the rest of the students are doing activity rotations. The sessions have been going like this;
1. Introduction to the letter - name and sound. Students repeat after me. eg. A /a/ A /a/ A /a/.
2. Letter hunt - students sort through magnetic letters to find the target letter.
3. Words that start with target letter. Students repeat after me. Focus on listening for the target sound.
4. Alphabet book. Students pick a picture to represent the sound and stick it in their book.
5. Handwriting - correct letter formation.

I am in the process of creating packs for each letter. I will be using these in addition to the small group sessions.

You can find them in my TPT store by clicking here.

Each pack has; two posters, letter hunt, case sort, letter sort, handwriting and bracelets. Ideally I want to send my students home with the bracelets on so that it becomes a talking point with their family.

All About Me
We have been doing lots of talking about ourselves; our name, age, birthday, family and appearance. Next week, we will be looking at our Five Sense senses. I am looking forward to this as it just lends itself to all sorts of fun hands on activities and experiments.

Dressing Up
On Friday we finished off the week with Developmental Play. I changed up the toys a bit and added the dress up box. It was a hit, EVERYONE was playing dress ups. All the other toys were untouched. I think it worked out well with everyone wanting to dress up, as it made everyone take turns! It was lovely seeing the students use phrases like "Can I please have a turn?" and "Here, you can have it now". No tears at all. Who'd have though a dress up box would help teach sharing and patience?

Last day of February
I can't believe we are heading into March already. Feels like we started the school year last week. Have gotten into the spirit of things by making a March themed packet of key concepts we will be focusing on.

That's it for Five for Friday. Enjoy your weekend! Be sure to check out the other blogs in the linky party :)