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Summer = CHORES!

Summer = CHORES!



Summertime has officially arrived here at the Travis house.... which means only ONE thing.  The kids are going insane ;)  #kidding #notkidding

We have been on summer break now for 3 weeks.... and while I have enjoyed EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE.... my kids are active.  They are boys.  They NEED to be doing something.  (or they are DRIVING me crazy).

They want new toys.... they want to go places... they want and want and want.

While they are only 9 years and 5 years … they are definitely old enough to help out around the house and earn a little spending money while they are at it!


I created a chore chart with chores that meet the needs at our house... but I wanted to share it so you can join in the chore fun too!  (They may be "cheap"... but it's all about teaching value and a lesson for earning)



The chore chart below is 100% editable - BUT you will need the "Hello Fonts" which are free on TpT to make it look the same!

click HERE to grab the chart :)

Feel free to edit your kids names.... prices... chores... whatever fits your needs!

***  My kids DO NOT take naps anymore... which really makes me sad for multiple reasons  (i need some sanity for an hour or 2!) LOL - so on MY chart... they get paid if they take a nap!  Ha!


Happy Summer!!!



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Jessica Travis
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Save Your Sanity: Surviving the END of the Year!

Save Your Sanity: Surviving the END of the Year!



Happy Hump Day Friends!

If you are like me... you are officially in the countdown to summer.  Some of you may even know the exact hours and minutes.... but you don't have to share that secret ;)

Let's face it.... the school year is winding down... and you may feel like your sanity is GONE.  Completely gone.  Lost forever.  

Your students are behaving in ways that you thought only animals could.  Their listening skills may be borderline toddler stage.  AND.... your to-do list is only growing with the amount of things you have to complete for the end of the year.

I GET IT. I am finishing up year 11 (hard to believe!) and every year feels the same.  Whether you have taught only 1 semester or you are wrapping up year 34.... the end of the year is draining.

You have worked SOOOOOOO incredibly hard for over 150 days in a structured routine of curriculum and behavior management.... its no wonder that you are TIRED.  Your students are tired.  BUT.... you still have days left with these students.  To teach them.... to care for them.... to make it FUN and memorable for them!

SOOOOOO......   This post will hopefully help you in *some* way to save a part of your sanity so that you can survive successfully to the end of the year!


ESGI hosts their LIVE monthly webinars for teachers (and they are free!) - be sure to follow ESGI on Instagram and Facebook to sign up for these each month!!

Anyways.... I was blessed to be the webinar presenter / speaker for April.... and you guessed it... the topic was "Sanity Saving Solutions - Surviving the LAST month of School!"

We had SOOO much fun (even though you could only see me on the camera and I couldn't see you all!)  I did receive LOTS of questions (hundreds.....) and I'm hoping this post will help answer some of those for you that did watch AND help those of you who are joining for the first time!

On the webinar.... I shared TEN different Sanity Saving tips that you could try or modify if you are already doing.... so hang in there with me til' the end......




Below I will share the same 10 tips from the webinar WHILE answering many of the questions received DURING the webinar!!

(A LINK TO THE WEBINAR IS AT THE END OF THE POST FOR ANYONE TO VIEW)


Now you are probably thinking.... I do BRAIN BREAKS all.the.time.

Well.... research tells us that if you take a student's age and ADD the number 2.... you get the maximum number of minutes they are able to stay truly engaged and focus before the mind needs to re-set.

That's only like 5-10 minutes MAX for our kids.  So now... how often are you doing brain breaks?

I highly suggest you step back from the lesson or activity every 15-20 minutes and BREAK.

It doesn't have to be a video or guided dance break (although those are FUN!), you can easily do movements with your students.

( Examples - 15 jumping jacks, touch your toes 10 times, count to 100 by 10's - jump each time, etc...)

Although... I do like a good guided dance break as well!  Some of my favorites include:

GoNoodle - free for teachers and SO many options (all including educational!)

Cosmic Kids Yoga - can be found on YouTube!  They range from 2 minutes to 30 minutes!

The big challenge here is making sure your students DO have a break from engagement to re-set back into learning mode!!!  (or you AND the kids will lose your sanity!)


We've hit the point in the school year where curriculum is falling thin and most subjects and concepts have been taught in entirety.  Sooooo... we need to have our students ENGAGED to help with behavior concerns AND to keep the learning rolling!

How do we do that?  With PASSION PROJECTS!   These are projects that students WANT to learn and read about.  These can be research projects.... questions that students may have about a specific topic.... ANYTHING that the student is passionate about!

Many times we research animals because students are fascinated with knowing more information and facts about different animals (ocean, zoo, forest, etc...) but you can easily research just about anything!  (food, sports, hobbies, talents, your school history, the next grade levels, etc...)

We recently went to the zoo on our kindergarten field trip and came back with a passion for zoo animals.  We created charts, lists, questions, and I ended up creating an entire pack with non-fiction pictures and recording research pages.



https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Zoo-Animal-Research-K-1-3744200
YOU CAN CLICK ON THE PICTURE ABOVE TO CHECK OUT THE ZOO PACK OR CLICK HERE.

A few questions answered:

How do the kids do the research?
Great question!  Many of our students are still NEW readers and would have a difficult time researching on their own.... but that doesn't mean they don't have questions ABOUT the topic of research!  I let them ask ALL of their questions and we make charts and lists together with me modeling and writing for them.  I also check out books from the library, print pictures that are REAL for them to see and let them write and read all they want to!  You can also pull up safe sharing sites and let students use the SAFE internet to answer their questions, look at pictures, etc....

When do you have time to do Passion Projects?
Another great question... seeing as how our day is already full to the max with other content and learning!  At this point in the year.... it becomes a little easier to do these passion projects (although we can integrate them in throughout the year!)..... our curriculum is often spiraling now and we can tie these research and passion projects into that learning.
Are you learning about adjectives?  Living/Non-Living?  Problem Solving?  Adding/Subtraction?  You can easily incorporate those skills INTO your projects during already scheduled lessons and activities.  It doesn't have to be a full day of passion.... easily 15-20 maybe even 30 minutes!   You can do it.... and your kids will LOVE it!


S

Sometimes... when you have done something so long and with such structure.... you tend to slack and get laid back.  It's ok... we all do it.  It's the same with school.  We have this constant routine and structure that we have done for 8 months... every.single.day and sometimes we still expect our students to just "know" how and when and why to do everything.  But.... that's not the case!  We still have to be on our toes at all times or chaos *may* be present!

One thing my partner teacher and I did was switch up our schedule for just ONE day.  Instead of teaching writing in the afternoon.... we moved it to FIRST thing in the morning!  Our results were AMAZING! Our students wrote like little authors for the first time in a long time.  We didn't do anything different... except change up the time we did it!

CHALLENGE: Switch just ONE subject for the day to see if the engagement is different or you see different results with student work.  I guarantee you will!!!!!!


You don't only have to change up your schedule... you can easily do something fun and simple!

- Eat lunch in your room one day with your students.
- Sit in a different place while teaching
- Switch up morning work - let them come straight into a brain break!
- Read a book after every single lesson - just as a gift of reading!

It doesn't have to be a huge change... just something enough to rock the routine!

Questions:

I'm not sure my administrator will approve if they come in and see me teaching a different subject than I'm supposed to.  How do you handle that?
Great question.....
Research tells us that our brains and bodies are MOST engaged and active the first 2-5 hours of the day.  However... we often teach writing, science, and social studies at the END of the school day..... so I would share that research with my administrator if they do see a concern (most wont if you are changing for a positive result in students!) and just share that you are wanting to see students shine in their work and efforts!
AND... if you are wanting to change it up for the day.... you can always go chat with your administrator before hand just to give a heads-up and reasoning as to why you are wanting to do it!
Ahhhhhh.... E.S.G.I.  has truly saved my sanity (and not just at the end of the year.... but ALL YEAR!).




If you are not familiar with ESGI, you can check out my blog post HERE to read about all of the AMAZING things you can do to help save you time with student assessments AND better your instruction!!!!

BUT DON'T WAIT TOO LONG!!!   ESGI is doing their Spring Fling deal right now and YOU can get ESGI FREE through August 31....

You will have to sign up BEFORE MAY 15 and use the code: WILD

If you want more information on the Spring Fling deal.... read my post HERE!



You already know how many days you have left (12 here!) so why not celebrate WITH your students.  Celebrate in a FUN way.... so they see the true joy of being in your room!

Many teachers do a 10 day countdown - with balloons and fun incentives or learning activities stuffed inside!  Pop one a day and do the activity!

We do an ABC countdown and countdown the last 26 days of our year!  Each day includes an activity that represents that letter!

You can also celebrate each and every student in a positive way!  So.... if you have 23 students.... celebrate 23 days (one day per student!).  They get to sit in a special seat... use special pens/markers, etc..., maybe eat lunch with you or sit somewhere special at lunch.... just a fun way for EACH student to be praised and recognized!

YOU'VE GOT THIS!!!!!



Y'all.   The behavior is at it's finest towards the end of the school year.  {sarcasm at it's best)  The behavior is out of control.  Even your most well behaved students are doing things they would NEVER do.   Kids are rolling on the floor.  Acting like circus animals that were just released after eating a bucket of cotton candy.  It's insane!

BUT..... it doesn't have to be!

It's time to pull some extra tricks out of the bag for the last remaining weeks!  What has worked throughout the year may not be working any more.  (and that's normal!)  Don't feel like you are the only class that looks like a movie clip from Kindergarten Cop.  It's happens to the best of us!

One of our favorite incentives is Ten Frame Take-Away


Ten Frame Take-Away is a great visual that DOES allow for extra warnings and reminders.  Each day the class starts with ALL ten in their ten frame and the teacher with ZERO.  As the day progresses, IF students are off-task, not following directions, etc... then one of the ten frame points goes into the teacher's ten frame.  By the end of the day.... the goal is that the class has MORE than the teacher! 

You can easily do this with small groups as well where each group must "beat" the teacher for the day!

You can determine an incentive that is rewarded if the class reaches the goal!

Another incentive I absolutely love is Praise & Raise!

Praise and Raise is giving positive praise to students to raise their confidence among their peers and self.  I like to do this during our morning meeting.  I praise multiple students with something positive so that ALL students hear the praise and truly lift up their confidence!  It can be something as simple as "I absolutely love that you came in so nice this morning and got right to work..... what a great job!"

It's all about being POSITIVE..... and not so negative (as it's easier to do towards the end of the year!)

You can see some other favorites in the webinar (linked at the end of this post!)



When I say you are not alone.... I mean it.  I guarantee you that the staff at your school is also in dire need of saving their sanity.  Don't make the end of the year depressing.... make it FUN... and get the staff involved!

Our school does a "Keep the Quote" that hangs for all to see in the main hallway!  It's a simple positive quote that can inspire anyone who needs the advice!



After about a week or so.... the quote is handed to a teacher (or feel free to tear it off for yourself if you feel the quote speaks to you!) and then another quote is added to the roll!


If you have a pretty fun and care-free staff.... STAFF BINGO is the way to go!



You can easily set a goal (fill in 5 boxes..... get a row..... get the most in a week) whatever you want to do!

It's just a fun little activity for the staff to be a part of...... the "winner" can receive something simple - FREE JEAN day.... candy.... recess duty off!  Doesn't have to be huge.... but super fun!

Questions:

How long do you do this with the staff?
You can choose the duration!  You can do one day.... a week.... till the end of the year... completely up to you!

What if a lot of the staff won't participate?
Well.... not everyone is up to having fun.  (Especially if you teach a testing grade and they are still in full on learning / teaching mode..... they have other things on their mind!) You can easily do this with your team of teachers or a select group!  It's just to have fun during the end of the year!


Again.... you can see more staff fun by watching the webinar!!!


This one is my least favorite.... but sometimes a must!  When our students start acting like the beginning of the year again... we need to teach the rules and procedures like the beginning of the year again.  Get back to the basics of expectations!

You may have to create a new chart explaining the expectations of the cafeteria, the playground, how to sit on the rug, how to use materials, how to walk in the hallway, etc...

IT'S OKAY TO REVIEW YOUR EXPECTATIONS!




The end of the year is overwhelming.  That's not a secret.  We have end of year data to collect, assessments, parent conferences, papers to fill out, papers to file, etc....

Our classroom starts looking like a tornado comes through daily and our desk is barely visible.

This is where SMALL GOALS come into play!

Set small achievable goals so that you feel success and less frazzled!

Examples:

- On Mondays - clean off your desk
- On Tuesdays - organize book shelves and centers/stations
- On Wednesdays - file a stack of papers away
- On Thursdays - make next week copies
- On Friday - wipe tables, clean off teacher table

That is just an example of SMALL goals.

You can easily do this with students as well:

- On Monday - read or collect data with 3 students, Tuesday, 3 more... etc...

It's all about setting small goals so you can ACHEIVE them......   :)



Tip 10..... is probably the hardest, yet easiest at the same time.  It's all about finding the balance between school and YOU.

Find time for YOU.

Take a night off of cooking.  Forget about the laundry tonight.  Read a book for pleasure (not because you HAVE to read something for work).  Have a glass of wine (or something stronger... I won't tell!)

YOU HAVE TO FIND THE BALANCE TO BE SUCCESSFUL.

Teaching can over-take your life.  You spend your evenings, weekends, before school, after school, and every second in between thinking or working on something for school.

You need to do you!

Cell phones - set aside.  Not for calling or texting.... but for social media.  It's hard to see other teachers looking perfect in May and their students all learning and engaged on Facebook and/or Instagram... when you are barely surviving.

(That's all a highlight reel by the way) ;)

I challenge you to find time for you... even if it's just 30 minutes at night for YOU.  Sit on the back porch.  Take a hot bath.  Take a nap!

Find the balance!



Now..... if you are still hanging around... you can easily watch the full webinar by clicking it below!

I truly hope (no matter how many days you have left)... that enjoy them.  I know we are excited for summer... but all of the students in your class will always remember YOU.  30 years from now.... when they are asked who their _______ teacher was .... they will say YOU.   So cherish the last few days.... enjoy them and make the most of them....


WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SANITY!








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Jessica Travis
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Spring Fling 2018 with ESGI & Friends!

Spring Fling 2018 with ESGI & Friends!



Happy Easter friends..... and April Fools Day!

This post is NO JOKE.... you will WANT to read and be a part of this AMAZING deal we've got for you!!

- - - - -

It's nearing the end of the year and we all know what that means..... it's crunch time for assessments and making sure our students are where they need to be in order to be promoted to the next grade (or receive additional support to get there!)




ESGI is here to help you save time AND get all of the data you need to successfully finish out the school year!

Not sure what ESGI is?  ESGI - "Educational Software for Guiding Instruction" is a teacher's dream resource!

What usually takes you 1-2 weeks to assess your students on letter ID, sounds, sight words, numbers, and any other skill you may assess... ESGI is here to help you save HUNDREDS of hours and get ALL of your students assessed within 1-2 days (if not less!)

Hundreds of assessments are already created for you to use at your fingertips OR you can easily create your own assessment that matches your exact needs!

You will enter in your student names and you will have a homepage like this:


(Your student names will be easily visible).   You will have multiple tabs (this being pre-reading), pre-math, phonics, phonemic awareness, and sight words!

You can easily move within tabs by clicking.  Each student will have their own page as  well (just click on the student name!)

You will receive data for each section that has been assessed.

****  This student was brand new in January and I easily assessed him in less than 20 minutes to have all the data on a BRAND NEW STUDENT!!!!!   it's like HEAVEN!!!
(as you can see... I was able to easily add him to the class that was already created!)

What I love.... it gives you a percentage of mastery (in this case, the student mastered 100% of each section)

I can print parent letters to send home to communicate with families on student results as well as print out activities/flash cards for areas that were NOT mastered!

Not only can I gather individual student data, but I can look at my class as a whole!  I can see what letters were missed as a whole group the most, the least, and I can better plan my instruction for whole group and small groups!

These are just a FEW of the AMAZING things within ESGI - and all of my data was given instantly to me and right at my fingertips!

- - - - - -

SO....... for teachers who are NEW to ESGI.... this is the part you have been waiting for:

ESGI friends have teamed up to give you some AMAZING things..... but you have to act fast!  This Spring Fling is good through TODAY (April 1) through May 15, 2018.

When you go to ESGI and sign up for a free trial, use the code WILD.   While you would usually get 60 days free to try out ESGI.... we are giving you a FREE TRIAL through AUGUST 31!

Why is this so amazing?!?!?!   - Because YOU get to finish out your report cards, assessments, end-of-year data for this class.... AND you get to get ready for next year's class and be ready to go right when school starts!!!!!!  


BUT.... THERE IS MORE!!!!!!!

When you sign up between today and May 15.... using the code WILD.... not only do you get your free trial extended to August 31.... BUT you will receive a free ESGI t-shirt..... AND you are entered into winning a FREE trip to a national conference this summer!!!!


Seriously ..... what are you waiting for???

It's time to make the END-OF-YEAR stress go away with the ease and perfection of ESGI!!!!!

So..... how do you sign you sign up?!!?!?!



PLEASE email me if you have any questions : wildaboutfirsties(at)gmail.com and I will be more than happy to help you!!!

TRUST ME..... YOU NEED ESGI IN YOUR LIFE!!!!!!





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Jessica Travis
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All About SIGHT WORDS!

All About SIGHT WORDS!



Happy Hump Day friends!  We're over half way through the week.... you got this!

We've officially hit that point in the year where I am thinking "oh.my.word...... I still have soooooo much to teach and so little time!"   Some light bulbs are starting to turn on in little minds.... some readers are progressing and moving right through the levels.... and some students are still trying to get out of the learning rut to make strides and hit that intended goal!

When I think of this "goal" or the progress that I'm looking for, I think of reading!  My little kinder kiddos are really showing progress and growth, but there is still that small handful that just really need extra support and attention daily to meet these goals!

One of the biggest hurdles to climb over in emergent readers... is knowing and identifying those little tricky sight words!  So today's post is ALL about those fun and pesky little SIGHT WORDS.... and helping our students climb that hurdle to master them!



Did you know.... that 89% of our oral and written language is SIGHT WORDS?!  It's true.... and 95% of the words within a Level A-C leveled book... is a SIGHT WORD... that's a pretty high percentage if you ask me!   It's no wonder that we really need our students to master these words!

So why do so many students struggle with identifying these words?  

Well.... research tells us that students (and even some adults!) need AT LEAST 20 exposures to something before it goes into their working memory!  TWENTY!   So think about your sight word exposures in your classroom.... are you exposing your students to a sight word 20 times before you move on or expect mastery?  Even if you only expose one time a day.... you are falling WAY short!

In a nutshell - we need AT LEAST 4-5 exposures a day if not more for our students to see and use a sight word to expect any type of mastery.


Recently I went to my Facebook page and asked teachers how many sight words their students are expected to know by the end of the school year.

The range of numbers varied greatly, anywhere from 25 to 220 for KINDERGARTEN.....  WOWZA!

Developmentally.... (and I'm sure there are critics on this!).... but there is no reason for a kindergartner to have to learn 220 sight words by the end of kindergarten, yet only be expected to reach a reading level of C or D!  It just doesn't match up!

When you look at research, typically.... every 10-15 mastered sight words can be a reading level.   So if you have a student on a Level A, the student should be able to identify and read around 10 sight words. Level B - around 20, Level C - around 30+ words ,etc....

If your end of year promotional requirement is a level D, then the student should typically master between 40 - 60 sight words.  

Now.... I know that districts and people above the teacher's pay grade are making these decisions for the curriculum in which you are required to teach..... trust me!  I know there is no kindergarten teacher out there saying.... "OOOOHHHHH I can't wait to teach my kids 200 sight words this year"

BUT.... we can't really change what we are told to teach.... we can only change HOW we are going to teach it!  

SO......  think back to the 20+ exposures for mastery!  Take this sample schedule into consideration:


Every single day, students should be exposed to the word in isolation AND in context!  They should have it read to them and reading it themselves.  They should see it, say it, spell it, and write it!  All of that takes less than 5 minutes AND can easily be done in your small groups, morning meeting, or even the beginning of a lesson!

Students can write it in the air, dry erase boards, journals, build it with letter tiles, shaving cream, pencils/markers, etc.... any type of exposure to writing and reading!

THEN you can incorporate in some fun sight word activities..... chants, word wall fun, fix and mix the word, sight word STEM, interactive pages, etc...

If you can stick to a consistent routine with your sight words, exposure will come naturally and so will success!

What are some activities that you can do?  Great question!

I definitely try to incorporate sight words into my morning message, but most importantly my small groups and learning/literacy stations!

I have a growing collection of sight word activities including my most recent... Sight Word STEM!  My kiddos absolutely LOVE building and designing sight words with various materials!  

Another little research fact..... did you know that a LARGE percentage of students who are behind or not meeting standards with peers, often struggle with fine motor skills as well?   HELLO sight word STEM.... you are meeting multiple needs!



All you need for this to happen:  different materials for building and the sight words you want them to build!  

I've created an ENTIRE pack for the first 100 fry words (as well as blank templates and cards!) that can help you with this!

I have designed this for multiple abilities.... beginning readers to have the support mats (featured in orange above!), simple building cards (in pink!), and advanced in context (in green)!

Check out the examples below for each part:


These mats are generic and can allow students to use with any word or material!

These support mats are perfect for your young and emergent readers!  A basic outline is provided for support as well as a writing area.  Students can select their material.... and build away!  (all 100 fry words are included!)

Simple sight word building cards are also included and give students the freedom and creativity to build their sight words.


This option if PERFECT for your readers to identify words in context.  A simple sentence is given and students must select the correct sight word to complete the sentence from the three choices!  Students can circle it, write it, and build it!

You can grab the complete SIGHT WORD STEM pack by clicking HERE.

Another great tool that I have been using and recently created is the Sight Word Intervention Binder, which also includes the first 100 Fry Words.


This tool is perfect to incorporate multiple activities and exposures with ONE sight word!

Students will:

- read the word,
- build the word
- write the word
- identify in isolation
- identify in context 
- trace the word
- construct the word

All of the materials are provided except the binder itself, the pointer, and the building materials!



You can check out the SIGHT WORD INTERVENTION pack HERE.

Do you sing or chant with your kids?   

DID YOU KNOW - that when content is put to lyrics or a rhyming musical pattern, it is 90% more likely to be retained?!  

After reading this research a few years back, I wrote a song for EVERY.SINGLE.SIGHT WORD in the first 100 Frys word list!

This is just an example of a song....  "THE" (pictured above!)

You can grab the COMPLETE set of songs.... HERE!

- - - - - 

One of the things that we often forget to do while teaching sight words.... is TRACKING sight words.

There are so many tracking tools out there, but this one is a generic tracking tool I use that doesn't really focus on specific words, but more so the amount of words a student has mastered!


You can easily use stickers, paint dabbers, initials, etc...  to mark and show the number of words a student has mastered.   I've included TWO different versions (counting by5's to 50 and by 10's to 100 - depending on the number of words needed to master!)

You can grab this tracking tool by clicking HERE!


NEED MORE SIGHT WORD ACTIVITIES?  Check out all of the sight word packs and activities (some are FREE!) by clicking HERE.


Sooooo... sight words can definitely be tricky and frustrating.    BUT... if you are only exposing once a day (or less!) then there is a reason to be frustrated!

Students need constant exposure and various activities to master these words!  Make it FUN, meaningful, and engaging... and you are sure to see success!

Feel free to contact me with any questions :)

Have a great rest of the week!!




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Jessica Travis
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Picking the RIGHT book...for your kids!

Picking the RIGHT book...for your kids!


While I wish I could tell you that I took a break from blogging to focus on family or some fun and new hobby... that's just not the case!  It's called LIFE.  Busy at work.  Busy as a mom, wife, and person in general.  Busy presenting at conferences.  Busy taking care of 21 kindergarteners and 2 of my own children.  Just Busy.   BUT.... I'm here now... with a little freebie for you!


SO...... we are at that point in the school year where my little kinders are taking off in their reading!  They are thirsty for new books all of the time and absolutely LOVE having a variety of text to choose from throughout the day.    The BIG game changer..... I (the teacher!) know what level of books that my students need.  I read with them daily in small groups, I know their levels, and I have easy access to a large selection of books ON their level.

The BIG problem.... students don't just want to read at school.  Once they get thirsty for reading... they want to read everywhere!  The car, their house, a friends house, a family gathering, etc...  But I can't be at all of those places picking out the appropriate leveled books for them.  AND.... parents who aren't in education probably are unsure of what a leveled book is, where to find one, how to find one, etc...


There are so many great books and text selections everywhere (WalMart, Target, grocery stores, EVERYWHERE) and many of these books even have a level attached to the cover (Level 1, Level 2, etc...)  But here is a little secret (that isn't so secret!) ..... those levels are not always accurate!  (insert big gasps everywhere!) Most of them are actually TOO difficult.... and students are not able to read independently.

SOOOOOO.... the question that many parents have is "How on EARTH do I find books on a level for my new readers.... or any reader?"

Parents can't go into a store and find a book that is a level B or a DRA 3.... they just aren't found in public.  Sure.... our 3rd graders and 5th graders and pick out a chapter book and read away... but for our young readers, this is TRICKY my friends!


I whipped up this simple and quick little cheat sheet for parents.  It's not much, but it's a game changer when trying to find appropriate books for your new readers.  It takes less than 5 minutes AND you can begin to have a collection of books that are on your child's level....that's a WIN my friends!


It's 3 quick tips for parents.... or teachers ;)


You can grab your own copy by clicking HERE.

Feel free to print for your parents and share away..... we WANT our students with books in their hands that they are CONFIDENTLY reading!!!

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Jessica Travis
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It's OK!

It's OK!



Hi there.  It's me.... the author of this neglected blog.  Yes.... it's been well over a month since I've written a blog post.  While this post will not include fun and engaging pictures from my classroom, it will hopefully let you know that you are not alone.

It's the end of week 9 for me here in kindergarten for this school year.  I'm a quarter of the way through with the school year.  (insert wide eyes)  While these first nine weeks have gone a lot quicker than I thought, I'll have to admit that I am still struggling to stay ahead.  (please tell me I'm not the only one!)

9 weeks.  In just 9 short (but fast) weeks, I've gained twenty new part-time kids.  I've learned their names, their unique behaviors (and they are VERY unique!), learned what they are strong with and what they struggle with, seen how they interact with other students, met each and every parent of these kiddos, learned their favorite color and TV show, what they did over the weekend, and so much more.

You see, the work of teacher is so much more than just "teaching".

Unless you are a teacher (probably why you read this blog!), you are married to a teacher, or have a teacher in the family, then you most likely don't understand exactly what a teacher does on a daily basis.  Sure.... we work 8-3 and have summers off.  (insert LOTS of rolling eyes).

I'ts 7:40 PM as I'm writing this and I JUST got home 15 minutes ago from "work".  3:00 passed a few hours ago and I was NO-WHERE near ready to go home.

Teachers have this amazing ability to do SO many jobs as a "teacher".

We as teachers are:

- lesson plan creator (mostly consuming our entire weekends to plan and create activities for!)

- lesson deliverer (while delivering this lesson, you are monitoring multiple behaviors, making sure all students are attentive, understanding, progressing, using, and retaining, etc... )

- RTI Specialist

- Advanced student specialist

- Right on Target student specialist

- Nurse

- Playground monitor

- Lunchroom specialist (making sure each and every student has their food, their tray, their lunch number, and they make it to their table and have their food in front of them!)

- Hallway leader and police!

- Parent Conference PRO!

- Behavior Specialist

- Restroom monitor (and boy they need to be monitored!)

- Advocate for student rights

- Attendance marker

- Email checker (and yes.... you must respond to some of these emails!)

- Faculty meeting expert!

- Filing organizer (you know.... after you planned all of the wonderful lessons and you need to store them for next year!)

- School supply sorter (find a basket and location for the 48 different supplies they bring!)

- Calm Down Caregiver - (when students are melting down over something very simple in our eyes.... but the entire world to them!)

- Germ Fighter (because we know those little babies are flying!)

- Newsletter creator (oh.... and that's every week my friends!)

- Guided Reading Royalty - yes... that's MULTIPLE groups with multiple levels of activities, differentiated activities and you do this DAILY my people!

- Science and Social Studies - yep.... gotta teach those too!

- Document the Data - (for ALL students!)

- Did I mention the Copy Machine and Laminator?  - we kinda need these every now and then too!

- After school Duty Pro - I mean... we gotta get these kids to their home right?!

- Objectives - post these somewhere....everywhere.... you MUST have them!

- Centers and Stations - (I mean.... you can't leave the same stations up all year.... we are constantly changing out these engaging activities to meet the needs of all of our students!)

- Shoe Tie King/Queen - (Velcro should be mandatory until you turn 12)

- Relationships - (yep.... you gotta manage to build a relationship with all students - trust me.... this one is a good one!)

- Computer Login Leader - (have you ever tried to login 20 five year olds on a computer with a username and password?  - you should try it sometime!)

- Weekend Warrior - this is where you spend all weekend thinking, prepping, planning, creating, and re-planning for your upcoming week!

- Part Time Parent - you are with these students for a big chunk of the day.... they get sad, scared, sick, and worried..... we become a parent for these students!

- Team Planner - so after all of your weekend planning... get ready to come to the table and share!  You will probably lose a conference period for this!

- PLC - say no more!  It's all about that Data.... growth.... and student success!  So bring that 17 inch data binder and get ready to share!  (it's really a good thing)

- Bulletin Board Master!  - you create monthly, adorable, and creative ways to display your students work!

- Artist - (you know... you're gonna draw little pictures, create charts, and make things for your lessons to stand out a little more!)

- Special Needs Supervisor - yep.... you will have students with special needs... which makes you even more special as a teacher!  :)

- Teacher

(yeah.... that's all for the job of a "teacher"....that person that works from 8-3......)


Did I mention that with all of that..... you still have a family at home.  Kids.  Spouse.   Dinner to cook.  Kids to bathe and put to bed (don't forget the reading and nightly homework!), downtime (HA!) try to watch the news to see what's happening in our world..... all while doing the things on the teacher list above.


While most people think at week 9... we should be rockin' and rollin'..... well we are.  But that doesn't mean it's easier.  It doesn't mean I have more time.  It just means that I know my students, I know how and what I need to plan, what things I need to focus on, change, and re-plan.... but it's still hard.

It's not my first year or second year of teaching.... i'm over the decade mark and I still struggle.

I struggle with finding time with my own children.  Making sure i'm giving them quality mommy time, doing the mommy thing, eating a meal with them, slowing down to let them know they are still my first priority.

I struggle with finding time with my friends.  Going to eat with them.  Catching up on our latest tv show gossip and fashion trends (I mean... I can only say so much about CAMO)

I struggle with trying to find an engaging lesson for EVERY lesson..... guess what.... it's ok if every lesson isn't PERFECT.  You give your best effort, you plan, and you go from there.  Your kids will not fail from one not-so-perfect lesson.... and you won't fail as a teacher because of it.

Guess what.... you are not alone with struggling.... and that's OK!

It's ok to struggle.  It's ok to ask for help.  It's ok to extend a deadline.  It's ok to not blow dry your hair each day.  It's ok to go to bed at 8:00.  It's OK!

Whether you are in week 6, week 9, or week 12..... it's ok to still be struggling with the balance of teaching.

I promise.   It's ok.

Teaching isn't easy.  You have to have a college degree.  You have to observe.  You have to be critiqued.  You have to control students.  You have to share knowledge.  You have to learn.  There's no wonder why 50% of teachers leave the profession within the first FIVE years.  It's not a walk in the park. But it's rewarding walk.


You are not alone in this world of TEACHING.  You are a teacher... who is changing the world!  If you don't ever fail... you won't ever know what success feels like.

Go get some sleep..... grab some ice cream and cookies.... and relax.  You need it.  Your family needs it.  Your students need you to.


If no one has told you.... you are a ROCKSTAR.  You are a teacher for a reason.  You are making a difference.   Your kids need you.  They love you.  You aren't perfect..... but you are perfect to them!

So ROCK ON!




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Jessica Travis
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Decomposing to 5 - Math Fun!

Decomposing to 5 - Math Fun!



Happy Tuesday that feels like a Monday!

We just came off of our three-day weekend where I had ALL of these plans to knock off some things on my TO-DO list.... but my list only grew and few things got done!

Anyways... it was back to the grind today down in kinder-ville!

Last week we focused on numbers to five and really diving deep into each number (showing the different representations of each number, counting to and back from the number, creating our class charts, etc...)

Today we started working with all of these numbers to five, starting with decomposing!

Here a quick overview of what we did today:

If I can tie in literature with other subjects.... I'm definitely on board!  Decomposing to 5 has a few books to use, but "Five Green and Speckled Frogs" has to be my favorite :)

Prior to our lesson this morning, I grabbed my large chart paper, post-its, pipe cleaners, beads, and my favorite decomposing book!


Do you see those little frogs?!?  Those little goodies came from the Dollar Tree in the bath section!  They come 3 to a pack and are PERFECT for this lesson :)


I started off the lesson reading (well.... singing really!) the story of Five Green and Speckled Frogs.  As I was reading, I used the frogs to demonstrate and act out the story!  

Don't have the book?  You can search on YouTube and find a TON of different variations that include the music :)


After introducing the term "decomposing" and showing students the motions, we read through the story again and reinforced the decomposing piece of the story!   (5 frogs on the log, 1 jumped into the pool... now there are 4 ----- 4 and 1 make 5!)

To get my students involved, we created these little frog bracelets (using brown pipe cleaners (LOGS) and green beads (FROGS) :)


Each student will need ONE "log" and FIVE "frogs"


As we read through the story (sang!) students became interactive learners and moved the beads as the frogs jumped into the pool in our story!  

This is an AWESOME visual for the students because they still have FIVE "frogs" on their log.... they just simply move one of the beads to the bottom of their bracelet.

As we go through this slowly during our read-aloud, we create this chart together using post-its to represent the two set of frogs (on the log and in the pool)


This chart hangs in our room now to give students a great visual for decomposing the number five.

Students get to take the bead bracelets home to share with family and introduce decomposing to them at home!

This is always one of my favorite beginning of the year lessons with numbers!!!

I hope your week is off to a great start :)

Happy Teaching!!







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Jessica Travis
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