As a huge thank you to all of her followers and fellow teachers, Kristen is hosting a huge Christmas giveaway as her gift to all of you for your dedication to the teaching world.  She's teamed up with some AMAZING teachers to bring  you a fantastic giveaway just in time for Christmas.
Giveaway ends on December 1st
I don't know about you, but this school year is flying by.  I feel like I was just prepping Thanksgiving centers and I'm already rushing to get December centers and activities ready.  Holy moly, is it vacation yet???
Here's what all 26 of us came up with!  You can click on the photo to see more.  All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below!  Ready, set, go!!!

One HUGE thing I took away from the conference was when they said they try to go PAPERLESS!!  Could you IMAGINE?!!  To me that just seems so crazy.  I teach in a school where parents are looking constantly for a grade, a paper with a grade on it, and to see how their child is doing.  I can't imagine not having these "grades" to show them.  But really, what are these papers that we are giving them for?  Are they really helping the students, and assessing where they are?  Or, are these papers to please the parents, and keep students busy so they are quiet!?

This week I told my kids we were going to go paperless for word work.  They asked the typical questions.  Well then how are you going to grade us?  What are we going to turn in?  Do we have to take a picture of it to show you?  (This is my thing for math, so that way I can see what they are working on when I am working with small groups - more on this later!)

I told the kids I would know if they were working or not by assessing their writing and their spelling test on Friday.  If they did well, then they were probably working on their words, practicing spelling the words, and working hard during the time.  If they didn't look at their words all week, then they probably wouldn't do very well on the test.  Now I know some of you will say, but hey, my kids are great spellers.  That may be true, but then it really doesn't matter what you give a student to work on, at that point it is just busy work for them, right?

Let me tell you, it has been great not having papers to grade this week for their spelling weekly work.  I still graded their spelling homework, where they had to write sentences to practice their words.  I think I am now going to give them options for what they can do for their spelling homework, and give them a grid where they can do different activities, instead of just writing sentences.

What would you do with all that extra money in your budget if you didn't use paper?  Are you set on the number of copies you can make?  What happens if you don't use your designated number of copies?
Wow!! What an amazing conference we went to! I need to start by saying that Gail and Joan are amazing presenters and spent a lot of time getting to know the people who came to the conference. At every break we were given they would stand and talk to whoever came up to ask questions.  During lunch they stayed to take pictures with people, and answer questions.  They did the same thing at the end of the day too!! It was great being able to talk with the sisters, and to take our picture with them after.

Our handbook and chime from day 1  - My kids already love this chime and they respond so quickly to it!!
One big piece of research I took from the conference was the 7-10 minute rule. A child's brain can only receive this long of instruction before it is no longer productive, and you'll have to come back to it and reteach. To engage students about every 7-10 minutes you need to shift what you are doing, or how you are doing it. This helps keep your mini lessons shorter. This also helps me with our math rotations to know I've got the first 5 minutes to get the instruction in, and then I need to have them practice that information.

Handbook, notebook, and pen from day 2!
Another huge piece of information was about reading just 10 more minutes a day. They showed this great data of a student who scored in the 50th percentile, and only read 4.2 minutes a day. By just adding 10 minutes of reading a day it increased their score to the 80th percentile!! I shared that with my kids and stressed how important it is that they are reading!!

I love all of the new books we were able to bring home!
We learned so much more, but this is where I will leave you for now. They talked briefly about AR as people were able to ask questions, and they answered them for us. They said AR will be going away soon. How do you feel about this?! Is AR something your school uses, and you support? I'm interested to see what every one else thinks of AR.
As a thank you to all of you sweet teachers Kristen has learned from, she's hosting a Fall Giveaway to share some great items with you.
 As you know, practicing High Frequency Words are essential for emergent readers.  Kristen is donating this fabulous product that her students love.  It can also be purchased in her TPT store.

The winner will be announced on November 10, 2013 via blog and e-mail.  Bloggers will e-mail the winner a copy of her product!  Thank you for participating in this giveaway!
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