Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Best Part of Someone's Day

I was preparing a bunch of little notepads, odds and ends, etc for the Secret Santa gift exchanges that are happening this week. I had purchased a mix of notepads, never really looked at them closely--I just love notepads! I pulled one out of the pile and read the top, "You are the best part in someone's day."

Those were some words I needed to carry with me today. A day when I really did not think I had enough patience to make it all the way through. A day when it sometimes seemed as though I might just slip right over the edge. But, I had those little words cycling through my negative dialogue and they kept pulling me back into reality. A reality that if I remain grounded I cannot slip.  That we've all visited the edge and most of us balance on it just fine. That little quote kept me balanced.

By the way, in case you need this tomorrow, remember:
You are the best part in someone's day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How's Your Word Workin'

Did you ever find yourself surrounded by magnetic letters and say, "I should know what to do with all of these?"

Well, that was me a few days ago.  I found myself in one of my cupboards at school and before I knew it the cupboard was emptied all over my carpet and I discovered a scary reality. I had tubs upon tubs of magnetic letters with very little purpose. I did the logical thing, packed them up in a crate and put them in the back of my car. Ah, no longer a problem in my cupboard, but what was I going to do with them??
I have long been attempting to get really good with "word work." You know, get it all organized, have a bunch of awesome activities at my finger tips. Well, I can now happily say I am one activity closer. I spent my Monday evening finishing up what I started on Sunday, a magnetic letter sorting marathon. Isn't it beautiful? I even ended up with a huge tub of, "to donate" letters and some empty containers. Now my letters will be workin' for me!
On an additional note, here are the word work activities I have started this year as well as a small list of what I plan to get going soon. I started small and I really think that my word work skills are growing. I have also included a few sites that will likely overwhelm the "word work" newcomer, but they have really good ideas. Just tackle a few and get started!

I began by assigning a word work activity to each day of the week. Lately I have been doing two to three to differentiate for student needs. I hope to get to a point where more activities are open and students can choose their form of word work, take their word list, and get busy!
Here is my starter list:

Play dough words--Make snakes into letters or make a pancake and write on it with a pointy object--golf tee is one of the best ideas I have seen.
Watercolor Words--Write words with yellow or white crayon, wash over them with watercolor paint for a wax resist piece of word work art.
Connect Four--Fill an 8X8 or 16X16 grid with words students have learned. Taking turns with a partner, students read a word and cross it out, then color in a set of four when they "connect four."
Word Puzzles--Write letters of a word on small square pieces of card stock. Write the word on an envelope and place the squares inside. Students put the word together then write it down; I start with names.
Dry Erase or Chalk Boards (I also got some neat black dry erase boards this year for something different).

What I hope to start soon:
My new and improved word boxes! I have white boards that I have divided with tape into three columns. One column is for a word card--read the word, the second column is for making the word with letters, then the final column is a spot to write the word with a dry erase marker. I think my little word sort boxes will work nicely with those divided boards.
I also bought some pebble style fish gravel that I am going to have students use to do "pebble spelling." I have mats with the word already written down. Students can cover the letters with pebbles forming the word. I would like to get some other objects to use like shells or flat glass pebbles.
Here are some great website resources too!