Monthly Archives: July 2013

Tweetness and Twitter love


Things I learned during a long weekend out of town:

1) Never leave home without my laptop

2) Twitter is pretty amazing

Just like week I posted about needing something to tweet about.  I wanted to get more into it – I just wasn’t sure where to start.  Not even an hour after I finished writing, I noticed that #kinderchat was hosting a chat for newbies.  I immediately jumped on it and counted down until 9:00 pm.

Let’s just say the chat was awesomely overwhelming — so many unique, talented, experienced voices all coming through at one time.  I wanted to take the time to read each one and I wanted to respond as well.  I started the chat using Hootsuite.  While I found it useful for reading everyone’s tweets and I love how you can have a page for each hashtag – the chatting part was not friendly for me.  Someone in the chat tweeted she was using Twubs.  I checked it out and liked it immensely for the chat experience.

I was able to chat with kindergarten teachers from all over the country with varied levels of experience.  Already, I consider each one to be a part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN).  I have been sharing resources, getting advice, and exploring new ideas for the upcoming year.  Not to mention, the positive feedback and support… from complete strangers.

You may ask, what does this have to do with literacy?  This blog is supposed to be all about it.  I’ll tell you this – it has everything to do with literacy.  In the past week, I have thought about all sorts of literacy.  After the chat, many of us discussed the validity of calendar.  Who was doing calendar in K, what did it look like, was it really valuable?  All of these are questions I struggled with this year.  I, myself, quit doing calendar every single day about half way through the year.  I did not see value in it for my students because they were not valuing it.  We still sang songs to increase numeric fluency, awareness of time and days of the week, and coin recognition.  This article was suggested by @togolightly in regards to calendar:

She links her post to this article from the NAEYC: CalendarTime

The issue of homework in Kindergarten was also discussed.  Again – this is an issue I struggle with.  Currently, we have monthly homework calendars.  The choices on the calendar are designed to be extensions of what we are studying in the classroom to build literacy and numeracy.  Most nights, I would really love my parents to just read with their children.  That is powerful in and of itself.  However, we do teach in a culture that expects certain things.  I am hoping that homework will not be an expectation from my classroom in the near future.

Here is an article that really made me think about homework:

Thanks @mattBgomez!

One of the ideas I’m most excited about is setting up a Twitter handle for my class this year.  Several of my new Tweeps have handles for their classes.  Some have a continuous feed going, others choose a Tweeter for the day.  I like the idea of choosing one student a day to start.  Students have the opportunity to share their favorite part of the day.  They learn that their thoughts become words, their words become writing – writing that can be shared with the world.  What’s more literate than that?

I’ll leave you with this thought – a video from my mentor Kristi.  Are you a lone nut?


Filed under Literacy, Technology

Something to Tweet about

I have a twitter account for networking purposes.  I have had it just about as long as I’ve had this blog.  I do not tweet everyday – and if I do – it is usually a retweet of someone’s tweet I really enjoyed.  I am a twitter newbie… plain and simple.

Just last week, a friend tweeted me, calling me to tweet more.  I thought – why not?  But then, I thought, what do I tweet about? I automatically retweeted from some of my favorites because I wasn’t sure what else to do.  Does someone really want to know that I’m on Pinterest yet again searching for more ideas and blogs to follow?  And if I have a question I want to open up to the global community, will I get an answer?  Will I use the right hashtags?

I love twitter for what I get out of it – I’m still just learning what I need to put INTO it.  I want to join in on chats and the like, I’ve just got to get in there. I hashtag my blogs and follow those links.  I’m loving what #kinderchat is doing right now with the #kinderblog13 and encouraging teachers to brag about themselves.

So far – here are some of my tweets I’ve retweeted and favorited:





I LOVE following other educators and following people they follow.  I’m looking to do more that retweet and tweet my blog.  So I’m calling on my friends in the education community to lend me some advice – and give me something to tweet about.

Follow me on twitter: @FrannieGay


Filed under Technology

Site worthy


I’ve been playing online today checking out different sites that I can recommend to parents and use at the Smartboard center in my class.  I hope you find some that work for you and yours…

Tried and True (membership required)

Something New

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Filed under Literacy, Technology


Since I am fortunate enough to teach in a school with 1:1 iPads in every classroom, I thought I would share some of my favorite apps.  These apps can also be useful if you only have a teacher iPad in the classroom – they can be used as a part of centers, small group, or whole group instruction (with iPad attached to Smartboard).


This common core app is FREE!  It is a great resource to have at your finger tips.  Carry your iPad to trainings and have all subjects right there – rather than having several notebooks.


Endless Alphabet is one of my favorite apps.  There are updates regularly and that keeps the content fresh.  Students are exposed to new  vocabulary in a fun way.  They spell the word with “monster” letters and then watch a short skit performed by the monsters showing what the word means.  Cost: FREE


ABC Magnetic Board can be used in a variety of ways.  I use it for making words, assessments, vocabulary, math, writing… The students enjoy spelling sight words and word families, making each others’ names, and creating pictures to be used in other projects. Cost: FREE


Phonics Awareness has different categories to practice segmenting and blending words, as well as vowel sounds.  I like to use this app in place of Elkonin boxes in small groups.  I have blogged before about phonemic segmentation… And while I don’t always agree with the method – I want my students to feel successful if being assessed in that skill.  The students like moving the bugs around and the ability they have to check themselves on their progress.  Cost:  FREE


I have professed my love for the Storybots on numerous occasions.  Their newest app puts all their fun in one place.  With this app, you have access to learning videos, classic songs, and the Storybots alphabet videos.  Many videos within the app are free, with the option to have a monthly membership with unlimited access to additional content.  For my uses, the free content works just fine. Cost:  FREE (with additional in app purchases if wanted)


Scribble Press is a creation app that I use for writing workshop and the reading center (response to literature).  Students can choose writing/drawing utensils, add text or stamps, and then save to their camera roll.  Creators have the option of making a singular drawing or creating a book.  We use it mainly for single drawings.  This is one app of many in the writing folder that my students use to create.  Cost:  $3.99 (but keep your eye out – sometimes it is temporarily cheaper, even FREE)


Our dynamic duo of writing!  My students use doodle buddy and book creator to write and create their own books that they then upload to their iBooks app. They draw their own illustrations in doodle buddy and then save them to the camera roll.  The images can then be uploaded into book creator and edited to fit the way my little authors want.  Audio and links can also be added into books through the book creator app.  Cost of Doodle Buddy:  FREE  Cost of Book Creator:  $4.99 (and worth every penny)


Pic Collage is an excellent app for showing many different examples of the same skill.  The collages can be saved to the iPad camera roll for easy emailing, etc.  My students use this app to show knowledge in math, writing, vocabulary, science… Doodle Buddy helps us with this app as well.  Stamps are included, some free, some as in app purchases.  In the end, most students choose to add their own works of art from Doodle Buddy.


Let’s build some math literacy, shall we?  Hungry Fish is a favorite in my students’ math folder on their iPads.  They enjoy being able to customize their fish.  The app also builds in difficulty as the students excel.  Their task is to feed the fish numbers that equate a particular sum.  When fed correctly, the fish gets fatter and fatter (the giggles get louder and louder).  When not fed enough, the fish loses weight (which causes concern) and the students know to feed him more. This is a great app to build number sense. Cost:  FREE (also available for iPhone)


Montessori Numbers is one of those apps we jumped on while it was free.  I find the versatility of this app beneficial for small groups and center time.  Students have the choice of building numbers and counting numbers using base ten blocks.  The fun music helps keep them engaged.  Difficulty levels range from 1-20 to 100-999 (depending on the activity chosen). Cost:  $3.99 (keep an eye out for discounted pricing)

Yes – apps can be pricey.  However, Apple does offer discounted pricing for bulk purchases of apps.  Also, check out the Technology in Education page on Facebook and their appy mall website (mentioned here).

Want more ideas?  Check out my colleague Billie Ann

Her 2 most recent posts are all about apps she uses with her fourth grade students.

Another great source:

Happy App-ing!

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Filed under iPads, Literacy, Technology

STOP! Collaborate and Listen

I’m feeling pretty pumped right now… Ice Ice baby pumped!

Today, I met with my mentor for the second day in a row.  We are brainstorming ideas for the upcoming school year.  At the end of last year, we dipped our pinky toes into the pool that is personalized learning.  We are both pretty much “all in” to this way of thinking about teaching – progressing from pinky toes to a comfortable backstroke.  At times, we find ourselves reaching out to each other as a life raft or full on grabbing the side to hop out for just a second.  Personalized learning transforms your way of teaching.

Our new classes offer us the opportunity to incorporate our ideas such as individual schedules and codes of cooperation sooner.

A lot of my collaboration with others happens in electronic form.  I follow blogs, pinterest boards, and twitter feeds of various educators (some I do not even know personally).

I invite you to check out some of my favorites and find your way to Ice Ice baby pumped!

My coworker Billie Ann:

My mentor Kristi:

My media specialist mentor Andy (great ideas!):

Technology in Education (on Facebook) and their links to free apps!

Personalized Learning:

Twitter feeds (still new to tweeting):
#kinderchat, #plearnchat, #literacy, @RebeccaWildman, @khmmc, @KristiMeeuwse, @plemmonsa, @BaBlalock


Filed under Uncategorized

Tutor Time 2


For a lot of students, and many adults, one subject comes more easily to you than another.  You’re either a “math person” or a “reading person”.  I would be the first to raise my hand as a member of the “reading person” group, but as a teacher, I’ve come to view myself more and more in a mathematical perspective.  We want our students to see themselves as capable of anything – they are writers, readers, scientists, explorers, artists, athletes, and yes – mathematicians.

In my very first blog post, I wrote about all the different types of literacy.  In schools today, so much emphasis is placed on reading and math.  Being mathematically literate is just as complex as being functionally literate and able to read.  There are several components.  Below is a graphic from  This website is an awesome resource for teachers and parents alike.


In Kindergarten, we fortify the foundation for mathematical literacy.  Our students come in with a sense of what numbers are and the meaning numbers have in their lives.  Every brick we add to this foundation is hopefully equipping our students to be mathematicians in upper grades.

During my tutoring sessions this summer, we have been working a lot with numeracy and quantitative literacy.  We are focusing on the order of numbers and how we can change a number by adjusting the value we give that number.  The numeral nine can have multiple meanings, depending on the value you give it.  Is it 9, 90, or 900?  As a former teacher of upper grades, many of my struggling students lacked a true understanding of the value of numbers.  When a student does not have a strong foundational understanding of number sense and place value, this can cause issues with more difficult math later on – multiplying, dividing, fractions.  Number sense is key.

As always, I use several different methods during one hour long tutor session.  We use games, handouts, the iPad, etc.  Again – varying the approach makes tutoring more fun and insures the student will hear the same concept multiple times (without getting bored).

20130709-154329.jpg The app Pocket Charts Pro is pretty amazing.  It incorporates both reading and math into one app.  There are 20 different “pocket charts” for the students to choose from.  In this picture, the student is using the Counting 1-20 pocket chart.  As you can see, a star is awarded when the student matches correctly.  When a student uses guessing as a strategy (crutch), they can just keep putting numbers up until they get the star.  While working with this student, I am reminding her that guessing is actually taking her more time (for the most part) than if she just counted as matched appropriately.  This is another reason why I use different methods and modes of learning during tutoring – I’m trying to weed out the strategies that are more crutches than actual strategies.  Can guessing be beneficial at times? Of course!  But in this case, I need to SEE that she understands the value of the numbers and can match using 1:1 correspondence.

20130709-154310.jpg We are also reviewing counting by 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s.  We chant, write, and match.  We fill in missing numbers in grids and on number lines.  We place cards in order as shown in this picture.  Skip counting can come across as a very “rote” activity.  However, it lays the foundation for a great strategy students can use when adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.  The ability to manipulate a number grid/line adds to the numeracy aspect of mathematical literacy.

20130709-154247.jpg My school is fortunate enough to have 1:1 iPads in each and every classroom.  However, I understand the importance of still being able to put pencil to paper.  A student may transfer to another school where iPads are not readily available.  Again this is a case of multiple deliveries and methods – showing literacy in a variety of ways. Here, the student is connecting the dots through skip counting.  She then fills in missing numbers – before and after.  We follow up by playing hopscotch outside with numbers (similar to the sight word hopscotch) and guess my number.

One of my favorite things to do – and the students seemed to enjoy as well – was telling number stories.  I would tell a number story using the students’ names.  They would use mental math or their fingers to solve.  We would “erase our hands” (shake them out) after each story.

Also – just because I love incorporating books into every subject area – here is a link to one of my favorite informational authors – Loreen Leedy!

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Filed under Literacy, math literacy