Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New {School} Year Resolutions

I am the kind of person that loves to make goals and work hard to "make it happen". So I love that Amanda at Teaching Madness is having a New {School} Year Resolutions Linky Party! If I tell you my goals then I am really going to have to stick with them! I have a whole bunch of resolutions, so I just chose 4 resolutions for this coming school year to share with you:

#1- Class Website- I currently have a class website that I use to post podcasts and movies of things that we are doing in class, tips for parents, cool websites for kids and post class newsletters on. I always start off strong, and update it frequently but as the school year goes on...well you know!!! I want to keep it updated better throughout the ENTIRE school year! If you want to check out my class website, here is the link: http://palmbeachschooltalk.com/shopej/Ms._Shopes_Class/Home.html

#2- Throw-aholic- I am so bad at throwing stuff away. I am known for saying "Oops, I threw that away!" Perhaps I could get that a bit under control! ;)

#3- Conferencing With Students- I really want to be better at having deliberate and purposeful conferences with my students during reading and writing workshops!

#4- Utilize Volunteers- I am blessed at my school to have parent involvement and support. Last year I really slacked on utilizing parents' help, and I tried to "do it all". I really want to work on being less of a control freak and letting others help!

So now that I have told you all a few of my New {School} Year Resolutions...you are responsible for helping me stick to it! :) I am counting on you!!!

On a side note, I don't know if any of you still have student loans...I do! :( I just found out about this Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. I don't know if it will be useful for anyone else, but I sure do hope so!

Off to spend more time with my great parents! My mom's big surprise is coming in just a few days...so we have to go shopping!!!! :)

Happy Tuesday!
Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Best Teacher :)

I am writing a quick post before my best and most favorite teacher of all arrives at my house...my mommy! :) Yay! She is coming from Pennsylvania for a visit, but what she doesn't know is that there is a surprise waiting for her! I would tell...but just in case, I don't want to ruin the surprise! I'm so excited for her!

I am also excited about a new product I posted on TPT...go check it out! Happy weekend!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Centers, Emergent Readers and 2 Freebies!

Today I started thinking about the centers that I would like to start the year off with. I was planning on just revamping a few of the centers that I usually use and I got a little carried away. I ended up making quite a few new centers...some that I probably won't even be using! Oh my! Check out the Back to School Themed Literacy Centers at my TPT store! Here is a preview!

So while I was going crazy I made a few new Back to School Themed Emergent Readers and Pocket Chart Activities to go along with them. You can find them here!

After all that, I did what I was actually planning on doing and just revamped some of the centers that I usually start with! :) Oh bother! Go to my TPT store and get your copies for FREE! :) I hope something is helpful and resourceful for you! If so leave me a comment! Thanks!!!

2 Awards

Oh my! I was greeted by such a wonderful surprise today! I was nominated for two awards...can you believe it!?!

I want to start off by saying thank you to Mrs. G's Kindergarten in Heels and Classroom Capers for both nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! Wow!

As part of recieving this award, I now need to tell you 7 random facts about myself...
1. I was born and raised just outside of the "Sweetest Place on Earth"...Hershey, Pennsylvania. I moved to South Florida 11 years ago to go to college and just can't leave because it is paradise!
2. I am a huge Miami Heat fan! Let's Go Heat!!! My favorite player is Chris Bosh!
3. I don't like to eat any red candy- if the candy is red I think it is going to taste like cherry! Yuck! :)
4. I can speak Spanish. When I was in high school my family lived in Mexico, so that is where I learned it. I like to watch novellas!
5. I love to clean...BUT the only thing I don't like to clean is the shower! Ugh...I would pay someone just to clean that part of my house!
6. I enjoy running...especially if I have one of my running buddies with me! Six miles goes by in no time when you are just chatting away!
7. Jamaican chicken patties are a weakness! Yummy!!!
I would also like to thank K is for Kinderrific! for nominating me for "One Lovely Blog Award". She is a new blogger too, but has already caught my eye with her posts! Go check her out!
Now I am going to nominate 5 other fascinating bloggers for these awards...I hope you check them out!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Classroom Visit Thoughts

I am back to give an update about how my visit to my classroom was today! It was terrific! When I got into my room, I was shocked! The custodians had taken down furniture and had made it really easy to rearrange things! I am very grateful...and so is my back! I was pumped to get to work- I was so excited to get to work I forgot to take true "before" pictures! Ooops!! It is a good thing though, posting pictures of an undecorated and messy classroom is painful! (I am a NEAT FREAK!) So you only get 3 pictures! ;)

IMG_20120724_120438.jpg IMG_20120724_120432.jpg IMG_20120724_120423.jpg
As  eager as I was to get working in my classroom, I kept thinking about a post that I read last week from Heather's Heart. Heather challenged me to keep things in perspective- to remember it is not about how cute, perfect and matchy we make our classrooms but to make sure that the thing I am most concerned with is leaving a lasting mark on my students' hearts! If you have not checked out Heather's blog you should! She is AMAZING!

Grade Three is the Place for Me is having a 'Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop'. So I joined in on the fun!

1.  What state you are in? I teach in South Florida.

2.  Your current teaching position? I am currently teaching kindergarten!

3.  Your teaching experience? I have been teaching for the past 7 years. I started in kindergarten, which is my favorite! I looped with my class to first grade, and continued teaching first grade for 4 years. Then, I taught third grade for one year, but missed my kindergarten friends too much and just had to go back! :)

4.  When you started blogging? I started blogging in the beginning of July.

5.  Share a blogging tip. Be kind and enjoy making new friends! Be complimentary to others. Leave comments and respond to others. Have fun! :)
 I hope that you check out my fellow new bloggers!

Gettin' Antsy!

I could not sleep last night! All I could think about was going into my classroom today. I am going in to my classroom today to start unpacking, setting up and doing some team planning! :) As I laid in bed, I was torturing myself every time I closed my eyes...picturing my classroom and how to change things up! After not being able to sleep for what seemed like ALL NIGHT! I finally got out of bed, went for a run and started looking at some of my favorite blogs!

I found 2 Linky Parties that sounded like fun! Not Just Childs Play is having a Linky Party-- What Character Would You Be? Other people posted about strong, smart and brave characters. I was very impressed! I thought that I would have no problem choosing a character, but it was harder than I expected. I would want to be Curious George and be daring, but for the most part I'm a chicken! Sometimes I feel like Amelia Bedelia, a confused soul! ;) After much consideration I decided I am probably most like Ferninand the Bull. I rather be smelling the flowers than to have conflict!

What character would you be? I am so interested to know!! Link up!

Life is Sweet...In Kindergarten is linky up to share the Top 5 Teacher Must Haves.

Here are my Top 5!

I will take some "before" pictures of my classroom today and post later! Happy Tuesday!

Friday, July 20, 2012


I know homework in July?!?! Crazy! As I am starting to get ready to go back to school I started thinking about how I did homework last year, and if I want to make any changes this upcoming year.

Do you have you Kindergarteners complete homework?
How often do your students complete homework?

This past year I had daily homework. Monday and Wednesday was a reading or writing activity that accompanied what we were learning in class. Tuesday and Thursday was a math activity from the students practice books. On Friday there was no homework! :) The students also had Take Home Books and Reading Logs to complete. Then every month I would send home a Monthly Homework Calendar. On the Monthly Homework Calendar the students were required to complete 10 activities for the month. On the calendar, the students had activities that were "fun"...like make a leprechaun trap or count how many jumping jacks you can do in a minute and write that number. The students enjoyed the Monthly Homework Calendar way more than the daily homework that I gave. (Perhaps this is why I am considering making changes for homework next year!) Let me know what you do for homework in your classroom!

In the meantime, I decided to revamp my Monthly Homework Calendars, check them out at TPT!

Also check out my other new products!
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Must Have Picture Books" Linky Party

I am trying something for the first time... I am trying to link up with The Teacher Wife to share some of my favorite picture books for school. First timer...here I go! :)
I love books and read alouds! Here are some of my "Back to School" favorites...

This is a fun rhyming book that gives the students a preview of what Kindergarten will be like. The kids always think it is funny too when they see that the students in the book are having fun and excited about school and the mommies and daddies are the ones boo hooing because they miss their children!

This book helps to address any fears a student might have about Kindergarten in a fun way! Many students can make text to self connections when listening to this story!

This is a fun rhyme and rhythm book that is entertaining for students to see dinosaurs at school!

I love Gilbert! :)

This is a really cute book. Boris the Bear is new at school and all the other animals are scared of him because of the way he looks. It shows Boris' struggles and has a solution at the end...all the animals love Boris because he is like a big Teddy Bear!

What are your "Must Have Picture Books"? I hope you will link up with The Teacher Wife and share your favorites! Click the pic below to link up.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Two Stars and a Wish

My team is getting together next week to finish our year long scope and sequence for reader's and writer's workshop. I feel like this is a huge task, and it will be great when we complete it! We will have a clear vision for the year and our instruction will be deliberate!

As I started thinking about writing and writer's workshop I thought about my biggest challenge...that being CONFERENCING! I could make lots of excuses for myself, but I'm not going to. I am just going to say I need to do better.

I have been searching for resources that I could use during my conferences to keep it short, simple but meaningful. (Meaningful being the most important part.) I want to really work on having good conversations with my students and giving specific feedback for what I expect in the future.

While searching I came across lots of good resources to use specifically with writing conferences, but I also read a little bit about the concept of "Two Stars and a Wish", and I really liked it! It is something I could use in any subject, and even teach my students to use with one another. The Two Stars are two compliments that you can give, and a Wish is a suggestion for the future. I look forward to trying this out in my classroom! What do you do to give your students specific feedback?

Check out my TPT store to find 2 new Back to School Emergent Readers!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Library Visit!

Yesterday I invited my students from this past school year to meet me at the public library for a fun "date" and to make sure that they were visiting the library over the summer! I was so impressed with how many students came out in the middle of the summer, and even more surprised with how interested the parents were in planning more visits as a class for the remainder of the summer! Awesome! As I was helping students pick out books and listening to them read, my heart smiled!! :) It was astonishing how the children remembered how to pick out "Just Right Books", and as they were reading they were having book conversations and making connections! I won't lie, it made me miss their precious faces and got me EXCITED to teach a whole new batch of kiddos in just a few weeks! 

A tool I use in my classroom to help drive my reading instruction and monitor my students literacy behaviors  is a checklist that I adapted from the Fountas and Pinnell's Continuum of Learning. First I give each student a running record to assess what reading level he/she is reading at instructionally. Then I use the corresponding checklist at the appropriate level. Using the checklist helps me to develop all of the behaviors at each reading level and gives specific skills to address. Click on the picture to get your free copy!

Check out my TPT Store to find my new I'm a GOOD READER because... Posters!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Calendar Fun With Songs

"Calendar Time" has become one of my class' favorite times of the day. When I create my calendar bulletin board, I make it interactive so that the students are part of reading the calendar, writing the date, and the day. I also try to incorporate a number of the day activity, the weather and some money activities. I feel like these are important life skills that the students are very interested in learning about. Doing these activities every day helps the students remember the concepts that they may have learned at the beginning of the year, because they are reviewed daily. It is so awesome after a few weeks the students are ready to be the "Teacher" and lead "Calendar Time". One of the things that the students love most about "Calendar Time" is all the songs that we sing. Click on the picture to get your copy of the songs we sing to reinforce the days of the week, telling time, counting, counting money, weather, etc..
Friday, July 6, 2012

Beginning of the School Year

The summer seems to be flying by and before I know it, I will be having First Day Jitters! :) Every year I get so excited to meet my new little friends, and have fun in the first few days getting to know each child individually. The first few weeks are definitely busy, but teaching students the routines and procedures in my classroom is one of my favorite parts! Here are some activities that I like to do in my classroom on the first few days of school. Click on each picture to download your free copy!
On the first day of school I have each student complete a self portrait, write their name, write the date and record their height.Then on the last day of school, I have the students do the same activity. It is so fun for the students to see how they wrote their name, formed their numbers and letters, drew the picture and how much they have grown in just a few short months! 

The balloon activity is a fun ice breaker that allows the students to laugh, move and feel more comfortable standing in front of their new friends. For this activity I print and cut the cards apart. Then I blow up enough balloons for each student to have one balloon. As I am blowing up the balloon I put one card inside each balloon. When it is the students turn they get to try and pop the balloon (which is very amusing) and then have to answer the question that is on the card inside.

As I am going over my routines and procedures at the beginning of the year, I like to be specific with my students on what is appropriate and inappropriate to bring to school. I start off with this little sorting activity that we complete as a class. Together we sort and discuss the different objects and why or why not they should come to school. Then on the reverse side of the paper I have copied an "Answer Key" for the parents giving them a little note for each item.

Teaching students to be responsible is very important to me. So at the beginning of the year we discuss what is expected to be returned daily in their backpack. We role play the students packing their backpack at home, and then illustrate what belongs in their backpack. It amazes me to see how the students feel so proud of themselves after this activity, or the next morning when they enter the classroom and tell me they packed their backpack "ALL BY MYSELF"! I include a short note at the bottom to the parents so that they can have conversations with their child about be prepared for school daily.

Lastly, I try to fit this activity in, if not the first day, somewhere in the first week. This is just a reflective tool for the students to see that they are becoming acclamated to school, making friends and beginning their kindergarten adventure! It is also something I send home as a conversation starter between the child and parents.

These are just a few of the things that I do in my classroom. I would love to hear what you do! Leave a comment or send me an email!

Smiles and happiness,

Monday, July 2, 2012

Welcome to Ms. Shope's Class

Since last summer, I have been "blog hopping" or "blog stalking" depending on the day! I wasn't sure if I was ready to create a blog of my own, and to tell the truth I was a little nervous to tackle the unknown world of blogging, but I want to give it a whirl! I have taken so many great ideas from other fabulous educators, and feel like it is time to start sharing as well! I have been an educator for 7 years, and have taught kindergarten, first grade and third grade in West Palm Beach, FL. I have to say though, KINDERGARTEN is the best! I can't wait to start sharing about what's happening in my kindergarten classroom!