Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Yeah, I Have Time to Blog Again plus Farley's March Currently and a FREEBIE!

Let the Sharing Begin! 

Let's just say I am over the moon with excitement. Although I loved every minute of the Daily 5/Cafe grad class, I am glad it's over. The last eight weeks have been a challenge, and my husband started to question if I knew who he was. I signed up for this online course because I needed 3 more credits to move up on the pay scale, and this class looked amazing. Before taking this course, I had never taken an online course. I thought it would be, should I say...easy? Um....I was kinda wrong! Even though it was a lot of work (along with raising 3 young boys, finding time for my husband, working full-time and somehow exercising and cleaning the house-somewhat), I learned SO much. This course literally transformed my teaching. I highly recommend it! Check out the DailyCafe site here. You will find class information on the site. 

My TPT Store is doing well, and I have a huge project in the works. Check out my new March Writing Prompt Menu Freebie (follow the link to my store). My students love these!

Let's Talk About Brain Research...

Every week, we had to read a journaled article and respond to it. In addition, we also had to collaborate and respond to at least two other classmates' responses. One of the main reasons I started to blog is to share ideas, get ideas and collaborate, so this was right up my alley! I love talking with other teachers.

The first part of the course was about Daily 5. I read a few articles (one for this course) and a few others about brain-based learning. Years ago, I was part of a building-wide study on this topic, but it has been years since I read anything about it. For the past few years, I found myself wondering why my students  had such a hard time paying attention. It seemed like they would get so antsy (and so fast). Comparing current students to students I taught 17 years ago, students "nowadays" seemed to have no attention span. I started to think it was me (and in a way it was due to me), but I also found solid research that confirmed children's brains are actually wired differently due to all the technology they are exposed to. Now, this is not a bad thing, but I needed to learn what I could do as a teacher to make sure I am doing everything I can possibly do to make sure my students would pay attention. I learned that students can pay attention for as many years old they are (ex: a 7 year-old student can pay attention to instruction for about a 7-minute duration). WOW!!! I had some changes to make!!!

As I studied my teaching, and timed my lessons (especially my read alouds and shared reading lessons), I found I was teaching/talking for an average of 20+ minutes per lesson!!! Yowza!!! Not good!!! I shared my learning with my students, and they were interested. I told them I wanted to try something stop teaching after about 7 minutes (I teach first grade) and take a Brain Break before continuing. So, from the first week of my class, I have been doing this. Of course, my knowledge and my teaching kept evolving, but this was a start. I will definitely continue to share my learning and my journey of teaching with you. 

Brain Breaks
As many of you know (and already use), brain breaks are very short breaks taken by the students after they've been sitting for a while. They get the blood and oxygen moving, they change the "scene"/switch things up, while offering additional learning. I've used them for many years, but now I use them every day, several times a day. Here are some examples of reading brain breaks. I'll share more on my next post. I'd love to hear some of your ideas!!! Please share!!!

A Sampling of Reading Brain Breaks:
1. Cheer/Chant Sight Words: Either a student-leader or I stand in front of the word wall or word board. All students stand too. The leader says, "Give me a _.", The students make a fist and pump it up while saying the letter. This continues until the word is spelled. At the end of the word, the leader asks, "What does this spell?" The students cheer out the word. This can be used with sounds as well. 
2. Cross-Lateral Movements: Cross-lateral movements are said to stimulate both sides of the brain. Have you ever noticed the students who are lower achieving have difficulty with this? I have (many times). Students can do cross-lateral movements as they recite the alphabet or sounds (or words).
3. I Have/Who Has?: I'm sure many of you use these as well. These can be adapted for ANY skill. My kids LOVE these, and they beg for more. The first time takes a little while, but by the end of the week, they fly through them. I currently use many of the Common Core RF skills. 

I've included my most recent set here for FREE! It's not fancy, but it works. Click the link below to get it.

I Have/Who Has

Now, onto Farley's Currently:

You can tell I haven't blogged in a while because this has turned into a novel! That's it for now. Check back soon!
*Font for my free I Have/Who Has and the March Currently is from Jen Jones at Hello Literacy (


  1. Hi! Visiting from currently! Your post is full of great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

    MrsMc from Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!

  2. Congrats on finishing your grad class. They can be time consuming esp if you have kids and a hubby! =) I am your newest follower!

    Just Wild About Teaching

  3. Hi Jen!

    Congratulations on completing your class! I can't wait to hear all about it. I visited your TpT store sure is growing!

    Hope to see you soon!

    Read with Me ABC