Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 10

Welcome Friends!
Once again I'm linking up with the Hello Sunshine teacher's blog for their book study on Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Chapter 10 is the Summary.

Adopting the Components
You need:
Educators that Believe.
Students that Understand
(neural connections).
Classrooms that Differentiate.
Opportunities for Critical Thinking.
Focus on Potential.

If you would like a video to show your students here is a short animation to explain the difference between growth and fixed mindsets.

Mary's Story
Mary Cay Ricci herself had a fixed mindset when someone suggested to her that she write a book. She even said "I could never write a book!" With her hard work, effort and perseverance, she succeeded, just like our students can too!

Next up:
Wrap up on June 28th
My in final post I'll write about Appendix A and Appendix B which will include a sample training plan for staff growth mindset professional development and parent newsletter blurbs.

 Hello Sunshine!

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 9

Welcome Friends!
Once again I'm linking up with the Hello Sunshine teacher's blog for their book study on Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Chapter 9 is about different Ways School Staff Can Maintain a Growth Mindset School Culture. Although there is not very many pages in this chapter, what I read made me really excited! I thought to myself, this IS possible! My school CAN do this!

Reinforcing the Growth Mindset Message
*Embed specific plans to maintain a growth mindset school culture in your yearly School Improvement Plan (SIP).
*Dedicate the first 15 minutes of each staff meeting for discussing your school's growth mindset culture.
*Learning environment should be a fear-free zone.
*Teacher's language should acknowledge what students do rather than who they are.

My favorite part of this chapter is the page with a picture of a school staff that is very committed to building a growth mindset school culture. In the picture all staff members are wearing a growth mindset culture t-shirt. My student's parents see me before school and after school. What a wonderful message to not only communicate with parents but to proudly wear!

"Look Fors"
Each school should brainstorm what Ricci calls "Look Fors" or evidence that demonstrates a growth mindset school and class culture. The areas that should be brainstormed for are:
1. Ongoing Assessment
2. Flexible/Fluid Grouping Practices
3. Curriculum Compacting
4. Expectations
5. Questioning
6. Higher Level Thinking
7. Acceleration and Enrichment
8. Classroom Environment

Next up:
Chapter 10
 Hello Sunshine!

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 8

Welcome Friends!
Once again I'm linking up with the Hello Sunshine teacher's blog for their book study on Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Chapter 8 is about different Ways to Help Students Adopt a Growth Mindset?

I teach kindergarten so it is important to me that my students can understand the activities that Ricci recommended. First step to help my 5 year olds (with a few older 4 year olds) is to "preview". The teacher can point to her head and ask:
"Who knows what is in here?"
This question is simple enough for my students!
"What do we use our brain for?"
Another simple question!

Then comes the preassessment. Ricci provides a copy of a blank preassessment (please see below for a link to a FREEBIE that includes a similar preassessment) as well as some completed examples. This preassessment is perfect for my kinder kids because they love to draw. The sheet has a side view of the outline of a head. Students draw what they think the brain looks like inside. Teachers then analyze the drawing to determine their knowledge of the brain. 

Sample Learning Tasks
Ricci describes 5 learning tasks. The one that stood out to me and I plan on trying with my kinders is #2 Building a Neural Network. With this task you use thread (for new learning) and yarn (for a deeper understanding). This interactive activity is so visual that I believe my kinders will understand more of what happens when we learn something new.

Growth Mindset Reminders
You can find some ready to print inspiration quotes to put up around the classroom or school here:

Next up:
Chapter 9
What Are Some Ways School Staff Can Maintain a Growth Mindset School Culture?
 Hello Sunshine!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 7

Welcome Friends!
Once again I'm linking up with the Hello Sunshine teacher's blog for their book study on Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Chapter 7 is about whether or not gifted education and a growth mindset belief can coexist. This was an interesting chapter for me because my daughter has been in our district's gifted program since she was in kindergarten and now she is going to 7th grade. Our district calls it SUN or Serving Unique Needs. Below are some of my favorite quotes for the book.

The Gifted Label
Ricci advises the reader to think about our use with the word "gifted". She recommends using "high-potential learners" or "highly motivated".

Early Ability Grouping
Ricci believes that there can be negative messages sent to students that are placed in gifted classes. As I mentioned before my daughter has been in the SUN program since kindergarten. From K to 2nd I didn't see anything negative in her attitude about being in the SUN program. When she got to 3rd grade I began to see over confidence in her. She didn't take suggestions well and she believed that she knew it all. The most disappointing change was that she would and still does tell her little brother that she is smarter than him. After reading this chapter I began telling her that if her brother is motivated he too can accomplish great things in school. Unfortunately she doesn't believe me. This is a message I have always told her but not in those words. This chapter has helped me better understand gifted labels.

Philosophy for Gifted Education
Next up:
Chapter 8
What Are Some Ways to Help Students Adopt a Growth Mindset?
I can tell this will be a chapter with lots of highlighting going on!

 Hello Sunshine!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 6

Welcome Friends!
Once again I'm linking up with the Hello Sunshine teacher's blog for their book study on Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Her book is a wonderful read with each chapter guiding anyone who reads it to a growth mindset school culture. Chapter 6 helps inform of the messages to parents and even how parents can communicate with teachers!

Here is a list of essential concepts to share with parents:
1. Information on growth and fixed mindsets
2. Encouraging resilience
3. Basic brain operations
4. Ways to praise their children.

Way to share essential concepts:
1. School website
2. School social network sites
3. Newsletter blurbs
4. Principal coffee hours 
5. Parent information evening

Suggestions for building resilience:
1. Use growth mindset praise
2. Model flexibility
3. Adopt a "glass half-full mentality in the home
4. Help children find their own niche

Next up:
Chapter 7
Can Gifted Education and a Growth Mindset Belief Co-exist?
Can't wait to find out!

 Hello Sunshine!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mindset Book Study - Chapter 5

Chapter 5 How Can Students Learn from Failure?
This is the book study for Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Failure. To many it sounds like a bad thing, right? Actually it is not! Sound odd? Take a look at the video below. The first page of the chapter describes this scene from Disney's Meet the Robinsons. It is a great way to react to our student's failures.
A message like this will help our students not dwell on their "failures" but rather try harder next time which also means they don't give up! This along with learning about the brain and how the brain works will help our students deal with "failure" in a positive way. I had an "A ha" moment when I read the line in the book where Ricci said "It is imperative that teachers develop a climate in their classroom where failure is celebrated and students learn to reflect and redirect so that they can approach a challenging task in a new way or with more effort." I've never celebrated failure but this year I will!

Unfortunately I'm going to have to revisit my classroom's Treasure Box. Why? To get my kinder kids to do many things I use extrinsic rewards quite often. Extrinsic rewards, as defined in the book, is outside incentives provided to a person by another individual or source, such as money, certificates, or prizes. My Treasure Box if full of old McDonald's toys. I started collecting them when my kids (now 11 and 9) would play with them for a little while and then not touch them again. I collected many and they now wait in the box for my kinder kids who earn Table Points all week long. My students are not motivated to clean up or help each other because this is what they are supposed to do but because they want win a prize. Very wrong! Students should have personal satisfaction when they accomplish something, also known as a intrinsic reward.

Changing How Students React to Failure
I really love the quote at the end of this chapter from Michael Jordan:
Many people know Michael Jordan as a basketball great but we don't know all the disappointments that he experienced along the way. He never gave up! He kept trying! This is the message I am going to take back to the classroom.

Don't forget to link up with the Hello Sunshine teacher blog to follow this book study!
Hello Sunshine!
Next up  is Chapter 6: What Messages Should Parents Hear About Growth Mindset?
It starts June 16th.
Hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

MIndsets Book Study - Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Why is Critical Thinking Important in a Growth Mindset Class Culture?
A book study of Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci.

There are three types of critical thinking
1. Reasoning
2. Making judgements/decisions
3. Problem solving

Here are some Highlights and Take It and Use Its from Chapter 4.
Critical Thinking Growth Mindset Project
Ricci wanted to test her theories on cognitive abilities and critical thinking experiences so she created this project. It included six Title 1 schools with 53 classrooms of 2nd and 3rd grade students which included critical thinking professional development for teachers. 
Ricci describes a conversation she had with two ESOL students after playing ThinkFun's Rush Hour game. In response to Ricci's question 
"What makes you think that you can do it?" (play the game) 
A student responds:
"Because when I try, I know I am getting smarter by making connections and the new connections will help me do it!'

Here is a video of how to play the Rush Hour game.
This demonstrates the critical thinking involved in the game. Many teachers from the project reported that they felt that student perseverance increased with a combination of the ThinkFun games (like the one above) and growth mindset discussions!

Don't forget to link up with the Hello Sunshine teachers blog to be a part of this book study!
Hello Sunshine!
Chapter 5 is called How Can Students Learn from Failure?
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 3

A Differentiated, Responsive Classroom in a Growth Mindset Culture
How many times have you heard the word differentiate in your school this year? Countless right? You may have heard it in morning staff meetings, from your principal requesting it in your lesson plans and if you are really lucky you may have had professional development in differentiation. It's a word that gets thrown around a lot. Chapter 3 in Mary Cay Ricci's book Mindsets in the Classroom shows how to differentiate for your students. Oh boy was I surprised! I didn't know there were so many steps and ways to differentiate! After reading this chapter I feel like I have more tools in my toolbox for the coming school year!

To begin with, let's define differentiation with the definition used in the book. 

"Differentiation - the way a teacher responds to a student's needs so that each student is challenged at the appropriate level.  "

7 steps have been outlined to have a responsive, differentiated classroom.

Step 1: Preview and Preassess
To begin with teachers allow students to "preview" the content that they will be preassessed on. The reason for this is that it can activate some prior knowledge on the subject. All of a sudden you may hear "Oh yeah!" Whenever my kinder kids have an experience they recall and want to share they usually begin with these words; "One time my (mom/dad/nana/tata)." Once they have previewed and the preassessment has been given the results can give a more accurate view of what they know on the topic.

Step 2: Curriculum Compacting
What is "curriculum compacting" you may ask? I wondered the same thing! It is an instructional strategy that streamlines grade-level curriculum by eliminating content that students have previously learned. The benefits of doing this is to make the most of instructional time by going "deeper and wider" into the subjects you are teaching. Not every child will benefit from curriculum compacting. Here are some signs to look for:
  • Students that show great interest and motivation in areas of study.
  • Students who consistently and accurately finish their class work early.
  • Students who create distractions in class. (It might be because they have time!)
Step 3: Flexible Grouping
Ricci acknowledges that often time students are only grouped in reading and not in math. This is true in my classroom as well however I plan on changing that for the coming school year. How can I effectively differentiate for my student's varied abilities if they are all lumped together? How do you run your math lessons? Do you have flexible grouping? If so, Bravo! I would love to hear about your math lessons!

Step 4: Mangagement
Who has heard of  "anchor activities"? Ricci defines anchor activites are ongoing tasks that students work on independently when they complete classroom work or when their teacher is working with other students. Many of you talented teachers may already be doing this and calling them centers. These activities shouldn't be things that will keep your students busy but rather things that will go deeper into the topic. 

Step 5: Acceleration and Enrichment
Do you know the difference between acceleration and enrichment? I'll tell you!
Ricci defined acceleration as moving faster through content, allowing students who have already mastered content or who master content quickly to move into above-grade-level content.
She defines enrichment as learning with greater depth and breadth; going deep and wide into the content.
Ricci believes that both are equally imporant.

Step 6: Formative Assessment
Formative assessments tell us a variety things:
1. Who needs to be retaught.
2. Who is on track.
3. Who needs enrichment and acceleration.
These assessments should be ongoing and do include your observations.
Formative assessments are important because it helps the teacher modify lessons and as a result can improve student understanding.
Crockett's Classroom has a freebie download of some Exit Questions and Tickets Out The Door that you can grab as formative assessments. 

Step 7 Summative Assessment
The end of the unit assessment should be different for your flexible groups. Remember when we differentiate we challenge our students at their appropriate level so the summative assessment should match their level as well.

Chapter 4 starts June 11th!
Why is Critical Thinking Important in a Growth Mindset Class Culture?
Please check out the Hello Sunshine teachers blog for linking up too.
Hello Sunshine!
Hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 2

Hello Friends!
Welcome to the book study for Chapter 2 of Mindsets in the Classroom written by Mary Cay Ricci. This book study is being hosted by the lovely gals over at Hello Sunshine Teachers. Isn't their blog button the cutest?
Hello Sunshine!
Chapter 2
What Are Some Ways To Begin Building a Growth Mindset School Culture?
Chapter Highlights
Seven steps are highlighted in this chapter so schools can begin transforming their culture to one of a Growth Mindset

Step 1: Reflect and Preassess
This step details the first professional development meeting with staff. In order to find out what staff currently believes, teachers are given an opportunity to write down their beliefs on intelligence. The chapter provides an example of a teacher worksheet to use however you can get free, ready to print ones at Hello Sunshine's Chapter 2 blog post.

Step 2: Educate the Staff About the Malleability of the Brain
First of all I must define the word "malleability". To be embarrassingly honest, I had never heard of this word before reading this book therefore this definition is more for myself than anyone reading this. According to Merriam-Webster online "malleable" is defined as "capable of being easily changed or influenced". Synonyms include "moldable" and "shapeable". I can't even tell you how many times I clicked the audio pronunciation button for the word "malleability". Try saying that word three times fast!

The part from this step that made me reflect was about how some school choose to adopt a school motto. Some examples were:
"We can all get smart at Harmony Park"
"Our effort is the best at Havencrest".
I started thinking about my school's motto.
"Be a STAR. Success is Your Only Option."
Would someone view this as a growth mindset or a fixed mindset motto? It seem positive enough but for some reason I keep getting hung up on the word "only". I feel like it needs more key words.  I'm going to have to think about that one!

Step 3: Educate Staff About Praise for Students
I know I have said "Great Job" to my students many times over the course of the school year. This step reminded me that I can change my praise to a growth mindset praise by simply modifying or adding effort praise. The example given in the book is "You did a great job on that paper" but adding "I can tell you worked very hard". While this is something that is not new, I recognize that I need to do 100% of the time!

Step 4: Educate Teachers About the Brain
This step acknowledges that the field of neuroscience is an ever changing field when it comes to studies and research however one thing remains the same. Neurons make new connections, those connections become stronger with practice and effort.

Step 5: Teach Students About the Brain
These lessons cannot be just a few lessons. As I think about the curriculum at my school I can say that the brain is covered during a unit called My Five Senses. This unit last for 2 weeks. After reading this step I understand that I need to remind my students often about the brain and that their intelligence is influenced by their their effortpersistence and motivation. These are words that I will be using much more in my classroom.

Step 6: Educate Parents
I communicate with my student's parents through a weekly newsletter. One thing that I will do differently is give growth mindset tips each week. This book provides several good examples of how to praise our children in Appendix B with Parent Newsletter "Blurbs" in both English and Spanish. Then there's the Welcome Letter that provides another opportunity to let parents know my belief system. Definitely have things to add to my To-Do List!

Chapter 3 begins Tuesday June 9th.
It's called Why is A Differentiated, Responsive Classroom
Important to a Growth Mindset Culture.

It begins with a quote from a Grade 1 student:

"My brain is getting smarter and smarter each day."

I'd love to have my kinder kids say this!
See you Tuesday!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 1

Hello Friends!
I'm joining the book study hosted by the gals over at the Hello Sunshine blog for a book called Mindsets in the Classroom written by Mary Cay Ricci.
Hello Sunshine! 
I'm super-excited about this book because it is based on the work of University of Stanford professor of psychology Dr. Carol Dweck and how to apply it to the classroom. If you haven't heard of Dr. Dweck you have to watch this video:

Inspiring right? Who knew the word "yet" could be so powerful! A few weeks ago I was discussing Dr. Dweck's study with my principal during my final evaluation. It was because of this professor that I knew I couldn't miss this book study. Thanks Hello Sunshine gals!

This is my very first book study online so for the first chapter I took sentences from Chapter 1 and added them below.

Chapter 1
What Are Mindsets, and How Do They Affect the Classroom.

Chapter Highlights
Besides defining growth mindset and fixed mindset I included what has to be the best sentence from Chapter 1. I loved it so much it inspired me to make a graphic for it that I will be hanging in my classroom the next school year.

Take It and Use It
 "As early as possible we need to start a belief system 
that communicates that all students can succeed."

After reading this chapter I had to reflect on the school year that just ended and decide if I was a teacher that encouraged a growth mindset. I can remember back to last July when I taught a Kinder Jump Start Program. In this program I had 11 brand new kinder kids for one week before the regular school year started. At the end of the half-day we went to the cafeteria. These 5 years olds (a few older 4 year olds too) were having trouble opening their milk cartons and were asking me to open it for them. I told each student that they had to try opening it themselves first because they "could do hard stuff"! I used that phrase all year long "You can do hard stuff". By the end of the year I could tease them by saying "I have something really hard to show you," and several kids would say "No, it's not hard! We can do hard stuff!" I guess I actually did start early with my kinders!

Chapter 2 linky starts June 7th!
Did I mention how excited I am about this book study? Not only do I have this awesome book to read but I also have several other teacher bloggers that just as excited about this as me and willing to share what they got out of it! See you Sunday!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June Currently

Hello Friends!
It 's my first EVER "Currently" with Farly from Oh' Boy Fourth Grade.
I'm so excited to be sharing especially with this super cute background frame. Upon reading Farley's page with all the instructions one thing stood out to me loud and clear about the creator of the Currently linky; 
She Has A Big Heart!
Farly is hoping to raise money through donations for Wimberley Adoption Group and Rescue. WAG is housing several animals affected by the devastation caused by Mother Nature recently. If you're an animal lover like Farly and would like to donate Click Here to go to her page and look for the "Donate" button. Then save and post the picture below to your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or whatever social media you prefer to spread the word!

And now, on to my first EVER Currently;

Listening - My kiddos were excited about attending the Summer Rec program at a local school. It started this Monday and I'm enjoying the peace of a house with no bickering!

Loving - I'm participating in my first EVER (another first) book study! The book is called Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci. It's based on research by Dr. Carol Dweck. It's hosted by the Hello Sunshine Teachers

Thinking - I was considering registering for the Teachers Pay Teachers conference this year. I'm not sure though because I will know no one there. Sure I interact with several teacher bloggers on Instagram but I don't know, know them. You know what I mean? What if I say "Hey, I know you from Instragram" and they look at me like I'm crazy! 

Wanting - I saw bright swimsuits at Walmart that I really like. They have neon colors which is what I'm planning on using in my classroom for the upcoming school year. Why not match my swimsuit to my classroom theme. Doesn't everyone do that?? (LOL!)

Needing - "I gotta wash that grey right out of my hair!" Ok, now I'm showing my age. That line is from a commercial for boxed hair dye from a loooong time ago. Anyone remember that commercial? Probably not! Anyhow and which is the correct word "gray" or "grey?" Well I used both so I could be half right!

Summer Lovin - Woo Hoo! It's so wonderful to not have to set an alarm. Unfortunately, my body didn't get the message that school is out because when I woke up this morning it was about the same time my alarm goes off during the school year. That's OK though. The earlier I wake up the more things I can accomplish! I'm also lovin' taking the kiddos to the pool. While they get tired out I sit and soak in the sun. Only problem is that we're in 100 degree temps here in Tucson, AZ. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!

 Thank for reading!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Word Family Posters

Check out my Word Family Posters!
There's 22 of them.
PLUS 22 sheets so students can write the words in that family.
PLUS 22 fluency strips that can be laminated and put on book rings!
Check them out HERE.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Liebster Award

Alexis over at Mrs Hudgens Hears a Who let me know through Instagram that she nominated me for a Liebster Award! The Liebster Award is an award given to new bloggers (less than 200 followers) who have amazing content to share and link up with other new bloggers. 

Thank you so much Alexis for thinking of me! You can check out her gorgeous blog Mrs. Hudgens Hears a Who by clicking on her blog button below. 
Mrs. Hudgen's Hears a Who

Here are the questions that I was given to answer as part of accepting the award!
1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
My very first post was back on February 5, 2012. During a staff meeting our principal had all the teachers sign up for a google email. During this meeting a teacher told us about Classroom Freebies. This introduced me to the world of blogging. The rest is history. It's been a slow history though, lol!

2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?
Sharing. When I first started blogging I created a lot of products that I offered as Freebies. I thought so many talented teachers all over were sharing their ideas through blogs that I thought were cool. I felt that maybe somewhere there were some teachers that might think my ideas were good too.

3. Is there something you learned late in your blog journey you wished you knew before?
Have fun and don't get stressed out about followers. Share what you know and enjoy the process. Just like the line from Field of Dreams "If you build it, they will come." So if you are interested in blogging start building but only because you enjoy it!

4. What is your favorite past time other than blogging?
Instagram! I love that it's such a simple app to use and way easy to communicate with great teachers!

5. How many hours a week do you dedicate to your blog?
YIKES!! Not very much during the school year as you can easily see if you scrolled down my homepage. HOWEVER, it is summer right now so I have already started being more faithful!

6. What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?
I LOVE posts with classroom pictures. Every year I change the layout of my classroom. I believe that it is like coming back to a new job each year which is never boring! Whenever I discover a new blog I instantly go to the label "My Classroom."

7. Where does your blog inspiration come from?
Basically from my needs in the classroom. If I like a theme (I love chevron prints) then I create things in that theme. That and whatever theme our reading program is doing.

8. Which post that you have written are you most proud of?
I am most proud of a post with a combinations of 10 freebie. It is also my most downloaded item in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I love knowing that kiddos all over are practicing this skill with my product.

9. Is there a post you have been planning to do, but have been postponing it for awhile?
I am going to be posting about an engagement activity I did at the end of the year. It focuses on teamwork, collaboration, perseverance and not giving up. I always tell my kinders to be "hard workers" instead of telling them they are 
"so smart". It has made a big difference in motivation for my students.

10. Which idea from a blog would you like to try yourself?
I just learned about Portfolio binder from Alexis, the person who nominated me. It just so happens that I have a class set of binders sitting in my classroom right now that I haven't used. Now I have a purpose for them besides collecting dust!

I nominate (in ABC by their blog name):

Suzanne from Kindergarten Planet

Laura from Luv My Kinders

Chad from Male Kindergarten Teacher
Male Kindergarten Teacher

Deirdre from Mrs. Garcia's Super Scholars
Mrs. Garcia's Super Scholars!

Bryce from The Teaching Texan
The Teaching Texan

Here are the rules for accepting: 
1. In your post link my to my blog through my button or a link as a shout out and follow my blog!
2. Answer the questions I answered above. 
3. Nominate 5-11 blogs of your choice that have less than 200 followers. 
4. Let your nominees know they have been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept! 
5. Last but not least, comment on my post with a link to your acceptance of the award!

Thanks so much for reading and hope you follow these great blogs mentioned above!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer Practice Calendars

Don't let the Summer Slide happen to your students. If you have kindergarten kids going to first grade then this packet is for you!
See everything that is included below.

For this product Click Here to go to my TPT store.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memory Books Presto You're Done!

It's the end of the year and what better way to end it than with a Memory Book that will be fun to create and something parents will save for years to come.

Several pages are included that can fit your classroom needs. Pick the ones you like and staple!

 Here is a look at all that is included in this fun Memory Book!

It's in my TPT store right now!