Saturday, 20 October 2012

How do you plan?


"Fail to plan and plan to fail," said my last principal. He was right - if you don't have plans then you aren't accountable and can't cover the curriculum in time. This year it's been particularly important in Australia with the roll-out of the new national curriculum.

I have lots of different proformas for different purposes. I have Term Overviews, IEPs, Weekly Plans, Guided Reading Plans, Guided Maths Plans, and Unit Plans for Science, History, Health and Literature.

I would love to hear from other bloggers. Later I will post some of my other plans. For now, here is a photo of my Term Overview. It's full of scribbles as I make sure that everything is taught before the end of November ready for end of year reports in the second week of December.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Mathletics - online maths program

Does anyone use Mathletics as part of their math teaching? Our school subscribes to it and I admit that I was a bit overwhelmed by it at the beginning of the year. Plus, my preps (kinder) were no where near ready to be using such a word-filled computer program. I am not really keen on 5 year olds having too much screen time either.

Anyway, after being shown by another teacher how to set tasks and view reports I am now loving it.

Go here for more information:

I am not endorsing this website at all, I am blogging about it because I think it looks helpful. It correlates directly to the curriculum standards too.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Jelly Bean Maths! FREEBIE

I need to get cracking with end of year assessments already. I thought Jelly Beans might be a fun way to check their understanding of numbers. For my Preps, this means up to 20. For my Grade 1s  it means up to 100. So here is a little package of activities for you to use if you with. I have written it with reference to the Australian Curriculum performance indicators.

Jelly Bean Printable

Monday, 15 October 2012

Term 3 is underway - and the rush is on!

Well, this term is flying by! Only 9 more weeks of school left - assessments and reports are creeping up, not to mention organising end of year activities, Christmas, stationary orders for next year. Oh yeah, and my son just got chickenpox! Eek! So a week at home whilst he recovers! (Yes, he is vaccinated but he still caught it!)

Yes, I am starting to feel a little frantic. BUT, on the positive side, everything is going well in the class. Daily 5 is loved by all the kids. I am about to start Guided Math (thought I would have a trial run before starting it fully next year) AND the kids are LOVING the Science Dictionary! We've done Astronomy, Bubbles and Chromotography (Colour) so far.

So to make up for my slack blogging, here are a few photos ... Enjoy! x

 Chromotography is so easy! Strips of paper towel, draw a line with texta (we used the secondary colours so I could explain that concept at the same time - so purple separated into red and blue, etc)  and then dip the paper towel in water. Kids loved this task!
 Odds and Evens Houses

 An easy number matching job for my ESL student.
 Reading Strategies for Daily 5. A work in progress! Didn't want to use the CAFE language because we are working towards a whole school approach, which is currently Fountas and Pinnell based.
 Science Dictionary.
 Daily 5 - 3 ways to read a book
 Working on Stamina (yes they can read longer than this but I was very strict - as soon as the Barometer child got distracted I stopped the timer)
When a child reads aloud to the class or to me they get a sticker on their Read Aloud Rainbow. Helps be to listen to them regularly (because they nag me for their stickers LOL).

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Science Vocabulary Freebie!

I've been trying to think of ways to fit more science into my teaching. The new curriculum expects us to a lot more than previously. I quite like science and have a scientist hubby who helps me understand the concepts. He is my walking encyclopedia!

I find that even though I do inquiry based units for science, sometimes there is still a need for stand alone lessons where the student can just have a quick play with a science concept. For example, they always LOVE anything that involves bicarb and vinegar, but I can not stretch it out for an entire unit.

So I decided to make a Science Alphabet Book. I am still deciding if I will make it into a bulletin board and add to it as we cover each topic or make it into a shared big book. I will also make miniature versions for the children to write in.

Feel free to print it out! Some of the letters were a bit of a struggle to come up with a matching science word, but science is everywhere! (Eg. J is for Jewellery... you can talk about gems, minerals, metals, mining, melting)

Click here to download Science A-Z

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Linky Party at Teaching Blog Addict!

I know it's against blogging etiquette to post twice in one day but I couldn't resist joining up for my first linky party! TBA is a great site for finding fabulous teacher blogs as the name suggests!

TBA's Ultimate Linky Party

The Daily 5 - Chapter 3

Wow, this is such a helpful chapter! The management and behaviour strategies are research driven and make such good sense!

A brief summary of this chapter and my notes in italics:

  • Establishing a gathering space. I already have a successful space with enough room for circle time or shared reading. I have a movable easel which also doubles as a big book holder. I have my sight words word wall behind my teaching chair for easy reference. Sometimes I sit on the mat with my kids though. 
  • Good fit books. This is something that I am struggling with because I have so many pre-readers. I have a few ideas I will try - a poetry folder for each child; anchor charts (IPICK); and sourcing more repetitive books from the school library.
  • Anchor charts. I have started to keep and store these. I am using large scrapbooks and clipping them to my easel sideways. Might need to take a photo for you to get the idea! A chart I need to do next week is the 3 ways to read a book. This might help some of my pre-readers. 
  • Setting up Book Boxes. This is one is difficult. I can borrow up to 100 books from the school library (which means each child can have 4 books). I have a limited amount of leveled books (approximately 10 of each RR level). So, what shall I do? Spend my own money?? Not unheard of. I am thinking I will create Poetry Folders for each child, plus 2 leveled books and 2 library books. The next thing to organise is the actual boxes: I want to do this frugally of course! Maybe each child can bring a large cereal box from home and the kids can decorate their own box. 
  • Short Intervals of Repeated Practice. Model, model, model! I especially like this idea that you stop the class as soon as one child displays undesirable behaviours and regroup. I need to get some nice chimes to signal to children to come to the mat. 
  • Signals and Check Ins: I already said that the chimes are necessary! Lots of practicing to create a habit. 
  • Check Ins:  I love the self reflection with a thumbs up if the kid was working independently. 
  • Correct model / Incorrect model: I already do this of course, but I need to make it more of a priority, especially modelling the INCORRECT behaviour. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Daily 5 - Chapter 2

This chapter is titled "From 'Management' to 'Principled Habits': Foundations of the Daily Five."

Let's have a brief look at these Foundations:


Kids can't (or wont) learn unless they feel safe. Early in my teaching career a lovely older teacher whom I adore made the comment that her Preppies need to know that she likes them before they start to learn. Now that I have a 6 year old of my very own I see how she needs to feel confident with my love that she can have a try, get it wrong, and still be loved. It's the same in the classroom. The students need to know that if they attempt something new that I wont be mad and it's okay to make a mistake.

On the flip side, we need to trust the students. We need to know that they will make the right choices and do their best. Of course, this trust gives them confidence. What a wonderful win/win scenario!


Children need to have structures, routines and support. However, they are also individual little people with personalities, preferences and diverse needs. So there needs to be a certain amount of choice in the classroom to keep them motivated and engaged.
I remember reading about the Matthew's Effect - that struggling readers read less and good readers read more and thus the gap between the two gets wider and wider. We need to be ensuring that the struggling readers have lots of opportunities to practice their skills at their own level. They need lots of extra encouragement and support.


It is so important that a classroom is a caring community. One reason I can think of is that children who feel safe are more likely to attempt new skills and behaviours. In my classroom I do a lot of social skills teaching and encourage positive words and actions. I have a lot of discussions with my students about kindness. Circle Time is a daily event in my classroom. These little 6 year olds have so much to learn. It's not about me pouring information into their heads - it's about them feeling confident enough to use their talents to find out for themselves!


I like this idea. It's about giving the child the reasons for learning and expecting them to do it. It's about making the most of every moment. It's about empowering the child by putting them in control of their attitude towards work and making their own future. So in the Daily 5, each child knows the purpose of each task. They know why they are doing it. They know how that task is making them a better reader.

Here are some anchor charts I worked on with my class to develop a sense of urgency:


This is something my class needs to continue to work on. A lot of the children can read alone in silence now. However, it's the independent readers who are best at this and as we know already, these are not the readers who need the most practice! (Refer back to the Matthew's Effect). I still have those children who get up every two minutes to change a book or get a drink or whatever! So, I will use utilise their "Sense of Community" and start timing and graphing our class stamina.


Oh this idea is an absolute gem! Micromanaging the kids, too much praise and redirection just makes them reliant on you! This is not what we want - we want independent learners!

Hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend! :)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Daily 5 - Chapter 1

I am going to post my reflections on each chapter as I read. I would love to have some feedback, particularly from teachers who are already using the D5 in their classroom.

Boushey and Moser describe their evolution as teachers with honesty and that is probably what hooked me in the first chapter. Knowing that these "experts" admit that they made mistakes in their early years is very comforting and I respect them for being so open.  Teachers SHOULD admit that they make mistakes. We are learners too and mistakes are there to help us learn. We always need to seek improvement.

In Chapter One the authors describe their ideal classroom. I agree with their ideas - teachers do need to avoid "busywork" and instill a love of learning in children so that they are "self-winding". Personally, I feel that child-led classrooms (with careful teacher guidance of course) and play based learning is the best way for children to learn. So already this book is suiting me well!

I'm going to be honest here too ... my class runs beautifully most of the time but there are still a few challenging students whom I need to cater for better:

  • the pre-readers
  • the ESL students
  • the students who rush through the easiest job instead of extending themselves 
  • the students who has additional needs such a working memory difficulty or attention issues
My classroom schedule right now has 9am-10.50am for the English block. I also have one afternoon a week which I dedicate to Literature response (eg. drama, painting, craft). 

9.00 - 9.15 Attendance' explain the day; 5 rostered students bring a book from home for Show and Tell.
9.15-9.35 Letters and Sounds (handwriting and phonics based on Spalding)
9.40 - 10.40 Literacy Time (Daily 5)  (I have a support teacher come and work with 2 groups during this time and I work with 2 groups). The children do 3 x20 minute rotations - children choose their jobs however some of them I choose for them, such as Computer Turn or Teacher Turn. I've modeled how to do each station and talked regularly about what we are doing - I use the WALT, WILF, TIB framework for discussions. 

  • WALT - We Are Learning Today
  • WILF - What I'm Looking For
  • TIB - This Is Because
I want the children to understand that we are doing everything for a reason. When I catch a child off-task I ask them: "What are you doing right now to help you become a better reader?" This reinforces my message and hopefully links with the sense of urgency that Boushey and Mosey talk about. 
10.40-10.50 is Sharing time. Children can read a book to the class that they have been practicing, share some writing or a drawing from a book. Most children BEG to be part of this and I think it increases accountability. Not everyone shares but I am encouraging the shy ones to stand with a friend. 

I am looking forward to reading more of the Daily 5 to make my teaching more efficient and effective. 

Hope you are all having a lovely day! 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

What I'm reading this week

Of course, I love to read. I like trashy romance novels, books about far flung lands, picture books, text books, art books and even cook books.

Term 2 has just ended so I have 2 blissful weeks to catch up on some reading. I've already devoured one fluffy novel (Irish chick lit, yup!) and I thought I would share some of the books I have read this week.

First of all, some professional books. I LOVE that I can get great books from Book Depository for half the price!

I will write a blog post about these two treasures in more detail later.

Then I have the books that I am reading aloud to my 6 year old daughter.  The Rainbow Fairy Series by Daisy Meadows (is that her real name??!!) and classic Enid Blyton.

Yesterday we went to the local Museum where they had an exhibition of children's book illustrations. The books were available to read. I read this one to my son and daughter.
Elizabeth Honey, Princess Beatrice and the Rotten Robber

This little gem came along to class this week with a student which we all loved so much we did a quick comprehension task and a mini-lesson about inferring.
I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen

A BRILLIANT picture book!

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend! Spring has begun and the sun is shining today! There is always a reason to smile.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Welcome to my blog!

Hi there! I have been teaching for 8 years, from Pre-K to Grade 9 and I am passionate about teaching. Currently I am teaching a Prep/1 composite... it's a lot of fun, extremely rewarding and VERY busy!

I decided to start blogging because it is such a wonderful way to network ideas. Teaching is such a sharing profession - and lets face it, we need all the support we can get from each other!

I am located in Australia and we are in the beginnings of a National Curriculum - another good reason to start blogging and looking for ideas! I should also explain that my state begins with Kindergarten (which is 3 days a week, for children turning 5 in that calendar year), then Prep is the first full time year of school (children turning 6). I chose the name Kindergarten Blossoms because in many other countries our Prep is equivalent to Kindergarten so I didn't want to confuse anyone. I chose the word Blossoms because of the amazing growth that I see in every single child throughout the year.

I am going to begin this blog by sharing some photos of my classroom and current displays and activities.

Please comment or email me - I would love to hear from you!