I am a few chapters behind in my Pirating so I am going to share some insightful and world changing thoughts from chapters 7,8 and 9.  OK…we all know that I’m really just gonna ramble aimlessly for a bit!  True story.
The thing that slapped me silly was this single quote from my buddy Dave (we’re friends, ya know?!  OK…in my altered reality…but that’s what matters…right?!)
Now, I can honestly say that I LOVE teaching all things teachery and teaching.  It’s my career but it’s also my hobby.  I love finding new resources, ideas, strategies…I love creating resources and games…I love talking teaching to everyone who will listen…I think I have the attitude part to be a successful teacher…but I need some tools…My BFF Dave has that figured out too!
Chapter 7 is all about creating engaging lessons!  You can’t teach ’em if they’re not engaged.  Dave says “You have to turn up the heat!” and bring energy to your lesson if you want to sell it.  Teaching kindergarten can be a double edged sword when it comes to selling it.  People, they’re 5 years old.  All it takes to sell a lesson is this:
Nothing gets 5 year olds engaged like seeing their teacher come out of the bathroom dressed like this.  Now that I have them engaged, I have to keep them engaged for the whole lesson.  For 5 year olds, this means a whole 5 minutes.  Trust me, that is much harder than it sounds!  One of the biggest struggles I face as a teacher and an area that I fail in frequently is transitions.  Dave talks about how important smooth transitions are to keeping your students engaged.  I am guilty of stopping momentum to find supplies or power on technology or speak to a visitor.  This is an area I MUST improve on.  
Chapters 8 and 9 talk about different types of hooks:  kinesthetic, people and safari hooks!
Kinesthetic=movement!  Get up and move!  Children are not designed to sit still.  Research proves it.  They will not learn if they’re sitting for 8 hours.  If you come into my classroom duirng the day you’ll see a lot of movement!  We dance…we exercise…we write the room…we use gestures from Whole Brain Teaching.  We move as much as we can.  Why?  It keeps them engaged and focused and is a natural state for 5 year olds.  And honestly, my butt hurts if we sit too long…ain’t nobody got time for that!
People Prop=Use the kids as props!  Use them as models, or manipulatives and get them involved.  I also use MYSELF as a prop.  I have been known to walk into walls…throw tantrums…dance…jump on tables…been written on and glued…and yes, I’ve been know to wear a silly hat or two.  Use the humans in your class to hook your students.  After one kid gets to be a prop, they’ll all want to be involved!
Safari=Get out of the classroom!  Take your students outside or into the hallway.  Change the environement step up the engagement.  When I was in school I remember that feeling of being super cool when the teacher let me work in the hall.  The same thing happens with my students.  They beg to work in the hallway.  Why?  It’s different…it’s risky…it’s fun and new.  If it keeps them learning, then I’m all about going on a safari!
And finally, guess what?
IT IS OK TO HAVE FUN!  I know it’s hard to grasp, but really, it is.  I know there are people who look at me and my class and just shake their head and mutter under their breath.  Guess what?  The data supports what we’re doing.  We might be having fun and being crazy silly, but we’re great readers and writers and we’re great in math.  
I am also reading The Next Steps in Guided Reading with my friends at Freebielicous!  Chapter 2 is about assessment and grouping!
I had a major AHA moment when reading chapter 2.  The author says that once students know most of the letters you no longer need to assess them on letter knowledge.  BAM!  People, we have always tested their letters for every report card.  WHY?!?!?!?!?!  By the end of October most of my students have mastered a majority of the letters, so why keep assessing them???  Old habits die hard!
Something else that stuck out was the assessments that are recommended for early readers.  At the beginning of the year, I administer a skills assessment that includes letters, sounds, name writing, word writing and sentence writing.  I am happy to be on the right track.  For students who do well on letters and sounds, I never would have thought to assess sight words so early in the year, but I will definitely be adding that in for the students who are ready!
Finally, I must stop correcting the child when they’re reading.  It’s sooo hard not to.  As a teacher it’s hard to sit there and let them struggle.  But we need to let them work through the word so they can become a better reader and build confidence.  Also, by letting the student figure out the word on their own, we gain some powerful insight into their strategies for reading!  
Now, for some more fun and excitement!
How about another give away!!!???
A huge thanks to my sweet sweet friend Maggie from Maggie’s KinderKorner for donating this awesome set of name activities!  This is perfect for the beginning of the year!
And you can win my newest Common Core creation:  Blockbuster Numbers!
To enter just leave a comment (with your email!) and share your favorite hook for engaging your students!  
And a freebie that’s a perfect compliment to my Blockbuster Number creation!
Click the picture to download your freebie!
PSST did you see these amazing deals at Amazon????
100 Laminating pouches for $9.81!  I ordered a bunch!!!!  
$6.99 for 12 dry erase markers is AMAZING!  Yep, ordered these too!!!  
(Just click on the pictures to order!!)
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  • Reply AthenaPhoenix June 27, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Okay…you hooked me. Off to amazon to order this book!

  • Reply Mrs. T. June 27, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I try to use a book with each lesson. I also like to use cooking and science experiments when they fit to make things exciting!


  • Reply JoAnna June 27, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I like to use fun read alouds as hooks. Also lots of turn and talk time to activate schema. Love your blog!!

    Joanna_sero at websterschools.org

  • Reply Carol Cobb June 27, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    I hook students by just plain “hamming it up” – acting like what we are doing is the best thing ever!!!!!!!!! If I look super excited and happy about what we are doing, they get super excited and happy.
    I really need to look into getting this pirate book – sounds delightful!
    carolcobb23 at gmail.com
    Mrs. Cobb's Kinder Sprouts

  • Reply MrsS June 27, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    My hooks are hands-on! If you can let the kids get their hands on things, they're all yours!

  • Reply Liz June 27, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I always try to find a short video or song to hook them, my class last year loved brainpopjr! My goal this year is to also use a good story that fits with the topic/theme. Lizdarden9@gmail.com

  • Reply Greg Smedley June 27, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    We cook every Friday in our class!! It's such a fun, engaging way to nvolve students! It's also a great way to work on listening and following directions!!


  • Reply Greg Smedley June 27, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    I love that you aren't afraid to get silly! That's one of the perks of kindergarten! We can be silly and the kids think we are the coolest person ever!


  • Reply Kelly June 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    You do great stuff for your kiddos!! Thanks for inspiring! BrannanKJ@gmail.com

  • Reply Mrs. Taylor June 27, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I love your blog. I hook them by wearing some kind of silly outfit, hat, or crazy accessory. Not only does it hook my students, but Catches the attention of Other classes and teachers which leads to questions about what we're doing special that day. I love that it continues to build excitement.
    Thanks for sharing your aha moments….it helps me have some of my own.

  • Reply Lee LaPradd June 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Puppets…Puppets…Puppets…What more can I say? They are the best. I use puppets to do everything from calling roll to singing Happy Birthday. The students also make puppets to go along with our themes.

  • Reply Cindy Price June 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm

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  • Reply Cindy Price June 27, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    when teaching the sneaky e, I am the sneaky e fairy. my costume is lady bugs wings, purple glasses, a red boa, pink high tops and a wand with an e on it. when I enter the room, I throw paper e's in the air. we then start our activities. my kids love it!

    cprice408@gmail. com

  • Reply Elijesbro June 28, 2013 at 1:51 am

    I'm all about being a prop and using my students as props too. Some days I feel like I do my own little show in my classroom! My kiddos love it and learn it!!!


  • Reply beth June 28, 2013 at 3:08 am

    My favorite thing to do to hook my kids is to truly have fun with them!! When they sing, I sing. When they dance, I dance!!! I never feel dumb in front of them. Kids love when their teacher is having fun with them. We can learn and have fun at the same time!!! bethpittman1@comcast.net

  • Reply NiseyT June 28, 2013 at 3:27 am

    I do pretty everything and anything to get and keep their attention. I may have even done a cartwheel one time:). I used several attention grabbers this year and the kids really liked those. We also dance and move a lot. If we can put motions to it then we do. My kids love games too.

    Ps. Your blog is the first official blog I am following through blog lovin

  • Reply Tamera Westhoff June 28, 2013 at 3:51 am

    I bring in cool things-like insects to get their attention. They were all about caterpillars turning into butterflies and larvae turning into ladybugs. Science really got their attention!


  • Reply Kelly Palazzo June 28, 2013 at 4:17 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Reply Kelly Palazzo June 28, 2013 at 4:18 am

    I love to play dress up and use music. I already have my coconuts and grass skirt ready for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I love to be silly – for teaching colors, I dress completely in one color and give myself a ridiculous name (Rowdy Rebeckah Riverspoon) and tell a made up silly story about why red is my favorite color. It is so much fun to hook kinders!

  • Reply Erin June 28, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I love to break out in a song or dance with my kiddos to get them engaged. My kiddos don't expect it and its always great to see their faces.



  • Reply Sheila June 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    I like to hook them by just being silly and getting down on their level. By sitting on the floor with them or dancing with them to music, they will do anything for you!
    Sheila – cockerill7@gmail.com

  • Reply Jennifer Tice June 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    I'm loving your hat picture collage! I'm all about having fun! Kids love having fun and those little ones forget that they are learning in the process! You've got me interested in the Guided Reading book too. Gonna have to check that puppy out!

    Rowdy in First Grade

  • Reply ronnie June 28, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    My students love to partner read while lying on the rug. Partners can be puppets, or me. vhair61215@gmail.com

  • Reply Raevers June 28, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    I recognize those overalls! I seriously enjoy your blog, Mr. Greg!! I encourage a lot of art/crafts in my lessons, as well. With all the requirements it is sometimes difficult to find the TIME, but kids love tapping into that creative and FUN stuff, so I try to do something crafty at least twice a week. I've not dared to glitter yet, but it's coming this year! Inspired by Smedley, of course 🙂 Thanks for the chance to win! pcolagal1963@gmail.com

  • Reply macgal June 28, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    I love to do anything hands-on to hook my kiddos. Cooking and art projects to go with what we are learning always seem to hook them.

    I'm off to do some ordering at Amazon now! Thanks!


  • Reply Pauline June 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Often I use silly voices. They love it and then try to copy in the same way. It's a quick attention getter that You can immediately do in the moment when needed.
    First Grade by the Sea

  • Reply Pauline June 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    oops I always forget to add my email!
    Pauline at firstgradebythesea@gmail.com

  • Reply marti June 28, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    I try to do various things — a surprise box, talking in “accent” or silly voices, playing simon says in the room except I use my name instead of simon, giving them as much one on one time as I possibly can just so they can talk to me individually (this surprisingly did wonders for my kinders and I found they tried harder on the things they had to do).

  • Reply Tonya Lambert June 28, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    I'm a crazy hat wearer, too! 🙂 Can't wait to use some of your hat ideas with my kiddos!

  • Reply Tonya Lambert June 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    I'm a crazy hat wearer, too! 🙂 Can't wait to use some of your hat ideas with my kiddos!

  • Reply Tonya Lambert June 28, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    I'm a crazy hat wearer, too! 🙂 Can't wait to use some of your hat ideas with my kiddos!

  • Reply rebecca faust June 29, 2013 at 2:59 am

    I wear different glasses to get their attention! Also, I have several picnic baskets that I put items in when I walk over to the gathering area. They are sooo curious to see what is inside!
    Rebecca at faustrs@mps.k12.mi.us

  • Reply Ms.M June 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I don't think there is any question as to you creating engaging lessons lv. 🙂

  • Reply aclark June 29, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    I like to incorporate some type of food into lessons periodically.


  • Reply Amanda McCulloch February 13, 2014 at 8:54 am

    CHILDREN LOVE TO COUNT!!!! When we are transitioning we count backwards, forwards, by twos, fives and tens! They love it!!!

    Great Blog!


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