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Stress Free Open House/Meet the Teacher Night

Do you feel like you are on a Merry Go Round during Open House / Meet the Teacher Night?  

It's CRAZY!  22 families coming into your classroom (basically at the same time) and you feel like you just can't talk to everyone the way you would like!  

Instead, you are giving the same instructions over and over and over again.  They leave and you can barely remembered your students, their families, and your classroom is now a disaster...

That is until now- last year I started doing "stations" during Open House.  Parents/students are given a checklist and they use the station signs around the room to help them know what they need to do!

I'm going to show you how I did it- but, guess what, all of the station cards are EDITABLE so you can change it up to meet your needs!

To check it out, you can click HERE or click any of the pictures on this post!

10 Stations- all station cards are editable

#1- Parents Sign in and take a Checklist (editable)

I put this at the front entrance of the door.  You want to make sure that it is VERY visible.  I had a couple of families miss it last year and I had to then show them.

#2- Supplies- 

Product includes supply labels so that you can have tubs for your community supplies such as kleenex, markers, crayons, Clorox, etc.

#3- Find Your Desk- 

Students find their desk and put the rest of their supplies in their desk.

#4- Meet the Teacher- 

Parents/students come and introduce themselves.  This gives you a few minutes to talk with the families. 

#5- Say Cheese- 

Use one of the cute signs included (preschool-4th grade) and take a picture of each child.  (Hint:  I also have a checklist handy with student names and I number them as I go so I know the order of the kids on my camera).

#6- Parties- 

Parents can sign up for parties.  We do a Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine's Day party.  This form is editable so you can add the parties that you need.

#7- Transportation- 

Parents will let you know how their child is getting home each day so you are ready the first day.

#8- Facebook- 

We have a private Facebook Page so this station gives information about that page.  I have included a copy of our letter as a sample so you can make your own if you use Facebook, Instagram, Blog, Remind App, etc.

#9- First Day Letter- 

Parents write a short letter to their child for the first day of school.  They put it in their mailbox so they get it at the end of the day on their first day! (Hint: If I have parents that don't show up for Open House, I write a short letter to any students who weren't there that night.)

#10- Roam the Room- 

Parents/students can check out the room and say good-bye when before they leave.

I hope you are able to have a stress free night meeting your new students and their families!

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How to retell a story: Why it's important and strategies you can use.

Maybe you know that your students or children need to know How to Retell a Story, but you aren't really sure exactly what that means or how to teach it.  Is this you?  If so, you are in the right place- I hope I can help you out!

If you are in a school that uses common core, here are the standards.  Let's take a look at what exactly is expected of your students.

RL.K.2:  With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.

First Grade
RL.1.2:  Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.

Second Grade
RL.2.2:  Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

What does it mean to retell a story?

Retelling a story is a way for teachers to understand how well a student is comprehending a specific text.  During a retelling, teachers can learn what the student thinks is important in that specific text.  Retelling, however, looks different depending on the grade level.  In kindergarten, students have to retell familiar stories that they have heard someone else read to them.  In first grade, they also retell familiar stories but must also be able to tell what lesson was learned or what the central message was in the story.  In second grade, students have to recount stories.  This means they are telling the events of a story that they read independently.

How do you teach retelling to students?

There are many techniques to help students learn how to retell.  You may have heard of a retelling rope or using your hand to help retell.  These are both great strategies for students.  I have also created a visual way to help students retell.  A good retelling should include the following: naming the characters, stating the setting, telling the important events while also providing the problem and solution.  I have used large puzzle pieces as an anchor chart in my classroom.  We learn about each puzzle piece individually and then we practice retelling stories that we have read together.  Here is a FREE bookmark that you can use with your students that is a smaller version.

What stories can be used to teach retelling?

When students are first learning how to retell, using stories that are very familiar is a great way for them to learn this skill.  For example, I use many fairy tales with my first graders.  I feel it also helps to have pictures that students can sequence to help them retell.

If you are interested in teaching students how to retell a story, I have made it easy for you!  Check out my retelling stories unit here.  It includes large puzzle pieces that tell how to retell, a read aloud story called Retelling Robin, two student books retold by me including The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Little Red Hen, and much more.

Thanks for stopping by!

Rockin' Phonics- An Entire Year!

Are you tired of searching for phonics activities each week?  If you are anything like me, you are scouring TPT to find just the right game or activity for your phonics lessons!  This past year I decided I was done doing that.  I was never truly happy with what I put together because it was different each week.  I decided I needed to create my own phonics lessons. 

*** Stick around, there are TWO FREEBIES at the end of this post***

I wanted something that was routine for me and for my students.  I also wanted something fun and engaging.  So, what came to be, was Rockin' Phonics.  Ultimately, it ended up being 28 weeks that follows first grade curriculum.  I wanted to share with you what activities are included each week!  So, I've broken it down into days to help you get a better idea of what it is all about!

Rockin' Phonics consists of an animated Power Point each week and a 4 day game rotation.  Each day (Monday-Friday) we start with an anchor chart of the phonics skill we are working on.  
When you start on slide one of the Power Point, you can go to the day that you are on.  It looks something like this... (Click on any of the pictures below to take you to the bundled product.  If you are interested in a specific phonics skill, you can find it in the description from there.)

Once you click on Monday, you get an empty anchor chart...

When you click through the chart (I would HIGHLY recommend purchasing a Power Point Clicker), it will go through each picture word by word.  Students will "sound out" the pictures.  Many times, this is a great way to introduce new vocabulary.  On the second slide, students will just read through the words as the animation brings them on the slide.

This anchor chart is presented each day for continued practice.

Next up on Monday is what I call "Drum and Strum".  This is a fun way to get students to segment and blend words with the focused phonics skill.  I have students stand up and "drum" the segmented sounds.  Then, they "strum" like a guitar as they blend the sounds together to make the word.  

The next activity on Mondays is a word sort.  The sorts are a little different depending on the phonics skill.  For the CH unit, students sort words that begin or end with CH (there is a worksheet that is included).  I have them use crayons of different colors to help "highlight" the phonics skill that we are practicing.  What I LOVE best about this sort is that I can just click through the slides.  I'm not going to my Smart Board or Document Camera to write the word first.  The slides do that for you!  This allows you to walk around your classroom and help students that need your help.  

You will start by going through the anchor charts on the Power Point each day.  Then, the first activity is called See It Write It!  This activity help teach students how to segment and write words using the phonics sounds that you are teaching.  Students use Elkonin Boxes to learn how to write words.  Before coming the Smart Board/Carpet on Tuesdays/Thursdays students bring their whiteboards with them (or you can use the Elkonin Boxes included in the product).  

While you click through the slides, students will attempt to write the words.  The first slide shows the picture and how many sounds the word has.

I like to do a fun little chat to have students show me what they wrote as they hold up the whiteboard.
Teacher:  One, two, three, show me...
Students:  One, two, show you...

I take a quick look to see who is getting it and to see who needs some additional help, then I go to the slide that shows how it is spelled.  We do some words with 3 sounds and then some with 4 sounds.

Next up are Rockstar Jumps!  Students put away their whiteboards and stand where they can see the Smart Board but have their own space.  By clicking through the slides, this helps students to learn how to "sound out" words using the phonics skills we are learning.  Students don't see the entire word at once but rather in segments that would help them to sound out words.

For example:

This slide starts out blank.  When you click it once, it shows the "r" and students say that sound.  Then, when you click it again the "an" shows up and they say "an".  Then, with another click, the "ch" shows up and the students say that sound.  Finally, the last click, brings up the entire word "ranch" and students say that together.  After every few words, students will see a Rockstar Jump slide.  This is when they do a Rockstar Jump (jump in the air and kick their bottom with their feet).

After the Rockstar Jumps, students will participate in a game rotation.  This rotation lasts for four days (Tuesday-Friday).  You can divide your class into 4 different groups and each group plays a different game each day.  I just use table groups so the groups end up changing throughout the year.

***These are the game rotations for CH Rockin' Phonics, however, games change throughout the school year***

Bump:  I usually make 3 sets of BUMP so that students can work with a partner.

Memory:  I usually make 3 sets up Memory so that students can work with a partner.

BINGO:  I make one set of Bingo (seven boards).  I teach students to play different Bingo games (four corners, X, etc.)

Go Fish:  I make two sets of Go Fish.  Students can play in groups of 2, 3, or 4.

Each day (Tues.-Fri.) we play the games for about 10 minutes.  The kids LOVE it!

Wednesday starts out with the anchor charts and quickly moves into the Drum and Strum.  This is the same as Monday only with different words.

Then we do a Real vs. Silly sort.  Again, I love this because all I have to do is click through the slides.  I am able to interact and work with students as we are doing the activity together.  The students have a worksheet and write the words as we go through the slides.

Then we do Day two of the game rotations...

On Thursday, we go through the anchor charts again.  We bring our whiteboards to the Smart Board again to do Elkonin (sound) boxes.  It's the same process only using different words.

Thursday is one of my favorite days because we play a game of SCOOT!  If you've never played this before in your classroom, I would highly suggest it!  I'm warning you though- the first time is a complete TRAIN WRECK!  You will be ready to tear your hair out, but I swear it gets better and becomes routine!  If you are not sure how to play SCOOT, it is explained in the product or you can check out this blog post.  Each week, I have differentiated the SCOOT games.  You can choose what best fits your class and/or students.  For example,  for the short vowels, there are two different answer sheets.  You can give students different answer sheets dependent on their ability.  Here are the two different choices:

This set has none of the letters on the cards.

This set focuses on the short vowel sound.

Two different recording pages to fit your needs.

Lastly, on Thursday we finish off with our game rotation.

Friday is purposefully shorter than the other days.  If you do spelling tests, you can have time to administer your spelling test on this day.  If you are looking for a Differentiated First Grade Spelling List, I have a resources that matches up perfectly with all of the Rockin' Phonics Weeks!  We start with the anchor chart and then move right into the Rockstar Jumps.  This is the same as Tuesday only with different words.

Then we do our last game rotation...

So, seriously, all of this for only $6.00 a week!  If you purchase the entire First Grade Bundle, you save 20% and get 28 weeks of phonics instruction!

Not sure if this is right for you?  Check out Short A for FREE!  That's 178 pages/slideshow/games etc. for FREE!  Click on the picture below to download!

Or, if you are interested in the entire First Grade Bundle (20% off), click the picture below!

If you've made it to the end of this post- congratulations!  I know there is a lot to take in- but I have a special FREEBIE for you!  Here are some Phonics Anchor Charts!  These are the ones that are used in this product but they can be used with any phonics program!  Click below to get your FREEBIE!

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