Saturday, January 19, 2013

Newbie Blues

Teaching Kindergarten has been a great challenge for me this year.

I know some of you are like, "piece of cake, yo."

But, I am not one of those people.

Kindergartners are notorious rule breakers. 
They do their own thing all of the time.

Yelling "NO!" and running out of the classroom is part of their routine.
10-15 minutes dedicated to coming down from P.E. twice a week is a necessity.
Giving up your turn for a friend and then deciding 3 minutes later that you want your turn back - which leads to a major melt down.
 Only being able to share, read, or speak in front of your peers using a dinosaur puppet.

As you can tell, this is an adjustment for me.
Kinda crazy how different K and 1 can be?!?

Yes, my Firsties are unique as well, but it isn't the same as the Kindergartners.

So, I have my inclusion K kids for 105 minutes a day and I am in charge of teaching them all ELA standards plus social studies and some science.

105 minutes is not a lot of time to get in as much as I am supposed to get in.

I've been a nervous wreck about that fact.

During this ulcer-inducing time, I've been researching the best ways to reach my littles.

When I say researching, I mean reading blogs, scouring TPT, attending conferences, and picking up some CCSS resources.

Here are a few of my favorite gems I have been using that I LOVE, my kids LOVE, and makes my ulcer a little bit smaller (which my insides LOVE):

Anything, and I mean, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING by Deedee Wills.
She is a genius!

I have been using her Literacy Stations cardsTime Me! stations,  Read, Trace, Glue, and Draw work pages, Writing Work Stations Bundle, Stamping Word Fun, and many many more.

Currently, I am totally digging her Poetry Packs. These weekly poem packs are so perfect for my limited schedule. My Gen-Ed kids are practicing their fluency while my ESE students are hitting many of their IEP goals. SCORE!


Jennifer Jones at Hello Literacy has been the beacon I've been looking for. Her knowledge of the CCSS and her willingness to share with us is a Godsend.

The CCSS are so confusing for this K/1 teacher. I attend workshops where I hear front-loading is bad and close reading is good. Then, I read online that providing some background knowledge is important for our little readers and that doing close reads is for the upper grades not the primary.

I have been given so many mixed messages. Where do I fit in?????

Jennifer has great blog posts that help me figure out the ELA standards better.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still confused - but not as much as before!

I simply adore her Phonological Awareness Curriculum that she sells at her "Hello Two Peas in Pod" TPT store.

Bringing P.A. and tying it with real literature. What an idea!
The curriculum is awesome and my kids are doing so well.
The looks on their faces when they blended the word correctly or made a new word first before their peers is priceless. L-O-V-E!

Whenever I get an email from TPT stating that there are new products posted by my favorite sellers, I am giddy with anticipation. Hoping that I might find my next favorite thing.

For now, these are my favorite Kinder products.

My next post will be about my favorite First grade products, AND let me tell you I have found an AWESOME resource that I am stoked about using and my kids are absolutely soaring.

Happy MLK day!
Be kind and play nice.

Here's a quote I just read on Twitter:
Silence and smiling are two powerful tools. 
Smiling is the way to solve many problems and silence is the way to avoid many problems.


  1. Andi...I feel your pain. I had taught first grade forever when 5 years ago my principal asked me if I would consider going to kindergarten. I remember thinking, "How different can it be? No sweat!" I stayed for 3 years and it just about did me in. I am back in first grade and now have a whole new appreciation for anyone that is teaching kindergarten. I think that EVERY teacher should have to spend time with kinders....
    Good luck and hang in there!!!

    Lori @
    Bee the Change
    Mrs. Faas’ First Grade

  2. Hang in there, I bet you are doing way more than you think. Thinking of you!
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

  3. Hang in there! It's amazing how different kindergarten and 1st grade can be. (Especially HALF DAY kindergarten!) I'm sure you're doing great and I'm sure the kiddos love you!

    Simple Suburbia

  4. I know exactly what you are saying. Kinder is H-A-R-D work!!

    But... it does get better. I find the first half of the year is like going up a very steep mountain, it's tiring and at times you are out of breath and some days you don't think you can make it. But the second half you are at the top and it is smoother sailing. It is then that you will see the fruits of your labour and it can be very rewarding. What a feeling you have when your little ones begin to read and write and it was all because of you.

    Be kind to yourself and always make time for you to chill out because you need it.

    Classroom Fun

  5. I feel your pain. I have such a rough group this year and they act the exact same way, only...they ARE first graders! Hit me up if you ever need Hit me up if you ever need a venting session, I am totally in the same boat this year with my firsties! Hang in there, and thanks for sharing all these awesome resoruces! :)
    Chelsea Rose

  6. Andi!
    Wow! Thank you so much for the awesome shout-out! You are too kind! I think CCSS and Confusion are must be in one of the Common Core appendixes SOMEWHERE! I think you are doing an amazing job, and having taught 1st grade for many many years myself, I TOTALLY GET your pain! A complete adjustment for sure! Kindergarten teachers have always been good at close readings especially if they were doing read-alouds as interactive. As long as your read-aloud titles are two years above their reading level, your read-aloud and your attention to the vocabulary and language will be bringing the reader and the text "close" together. Timothy Shanahan of is very clear about sending the message that text complexity starts in 2nd grade, and that Kindergarten and first grade needs to spend MOST of their readng energy on DECODING...teaching these little ones HOW to read the they are ready once they get to 2nd grade to read complex challenging text. Keep up the remarkable work and thank you for continuing to share your journey with everyone on your blog! You are helping so many other teachers in your exact same situation!
    Jen Jones

  7. Andi, I really feel for you! If you're not used to kindergartners, they can be quite challenging. As a blind kindergarten teacher, I have many tricks that I use to keep my kids in line, motivated, and engaged. I sing ALL the time. I even sing to them when I want them to go and sit on the rug. It really works. I also try to really keep in mind student interests when I'm making books, papers, games, etc. I just put up a whole bunch of freebies on my blog about the book "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake". Stop by if you have a second. I'd love to talk to you!

    Sharon Dudley, NBCT
    Teaching with Sight