Organizing Sight Word Sticks

I don't know about you, but when I first saw Reagan Tunstall's sight word stick centers, I was immediately smitten. I knew this was something I wanted to add to my word work center. I love low maintenance activities that really help students master their sight words.

But what do you do with all the sticks? How to keep them? Where to put them? Here is my solution:

First go ahead and gather those sticks. My curriculum at this point of the year introduces 6 sight words a week. I write this week's sight words on one end of the sticks and the lesson (27) on the other.

 I find that 4 students per daily 5 choice is about the max I can handle without going crazy! (so much NOISE) So I have 4 sets of sticks, and each have their own cup in the "Work on Words" tub. 

I make sure to assign each set it's own color so that the students can easily know whose sticks are whose, no matter how many friends are at the center and how mixed up the sticks get. I can also easily pull out the sticks from weeks ago that the students hopefully have mastered already because I have the lesson number on the other end of the stick.

Now, how do I store all these sticks you ask? Well, each lesson gets its own snack sized baggie baggie with the lesson number on it.  I find these are the perfect size for the sticks. Then I put all four sets of sticks from the lesson together. Even though they are mixed up, they are easy to separate by color and put into the correct cups. 

Then all the snack sized baggies containing each lesson's words go together in a quart sized bag labeled with the unit on it. My units have 4 lessons that introduce new sight words and a review lesson. So each quart baggie just has 4 snack baggies. Easy to find what I need. 

I can also easily fit all 6 unit bags into a gallon sized bag with the whole year's worth of sticks.

 I simply keep this bag at the back of my file cabinet where I store all my other Journey's materials and pull what sticks I need or file away the old sticks as needed. Depending on your file system, you could even just put the baggies in a hanging file, but I'm a little tight on space and can't stand for things to fall out of the folders. So a baggie works best for me. 

I easily finished the second half of my year's sight word sticks in one sitting. And I have WAY less during the first half of the year, so this was an easy project to complete in one planning period and a few minutes after school. And I feel SO good knowing I'm ready for next year. I don't know about you, but I'm all about easy and the more prepared I am, the easier my day goes.

Hopefully this helps you, or at least gives you an idea about how to go about getting together your sticks in order! I am hoping to get out another post about how I organize all the papers for this center soon! I highly recommend this product. My kids are loving it and so am I!! 

Curing Tattle Tales

Okay teachers. I have discovered something. Or rather, uncovered it. I'm not sure where this inspiration came from, but it has completely changed how I feel at the end of the school day. It has to do with the dreaded teacher issue of tattling.

When my children tattle, it makes me crazy. I can't stand it. It irritates me and frustrates me. It's my least favorite thing about teaching. I know and recognize that it is a natural part of childhood, and that because my students trust me and know that I support them, they want to naturally bring their problems to me so I can help them. But I strongly believe that it is more important to teach them how to get along WITHOUT teacher intervention or at least as little intervention as possible.

Which is where my discovery comes in. When students come to me tattling I reply with a simple response: "Why are you telling me? I didn't do that." This makes them think and realize that *I* cannot/should not solve their problem. When I tried this the first time, they tilted their little heads and looked at me with confusion. Then they thought about what I had said. This is when I encouraged them to go and talk it out with the person who was bothering them, and not me. After all, I didn't cause the problem. Their friend did. And to solve it they needed to talk with their friend, not me.

This is where it is important to get out of the way. Most often, they can simply talk it out together and figure out what to do together, which I sometimes think is the most important of kindergarten skills to learn. I often suggest my students step into the hallway to discuss and come back when a solution is found. If they can't come to conclusion, I help, but at little as possible. Often I sit between them and ask them to tell me their issue, and simply repeat what they said back to them. We go back and forth until things are smoothed out. A typical conversation goes like this:

Lucy: "Mrs. Broughton! Suzy put her ponytail in my face!"
Me: "Why are you telling me? I didn't put my ponytail in your face."
Lucy: **Looks quizzically at me**
Me: "Why don't you talk to Suzy about it?"
Lucy: **Goes to Suzy** "Suzy I don't like that you put your ponytail in my face"

Usually, this conversation continues on to solution on it's own. But in the case that it doesn't, here is how I would participate:

Me:  "Suzy, Lucy doesn't like how you put your ponytail in her face."
Suzy: "I didn't mean to, I was just standing in line and scooted back and did it on accident."
Me: "Lucy, Suzy says it was an accident. How do you feel about that?"
Lucy: "I didn't like it."
Me: "Suzy, Lucy still wants you to know she didn't like it."
Suzy: "I really didn't mean to. I'm sorry, will you please forgive me?"
Lucy: "I guess it's okay. I forgive you."

Now obviously this is the ideal way this would go. But I hope that you'd be surprised that it goes this way more often than not. Especially if you really hammer home a clear and distinct way to apologize, which I do as often as possible. I only try to involve myself if the kids are really getting upset and can't quite get their emotions in check. They need practice discussing issues and brainstorming solutions. Obviously my little narrative above isn't one of those situations, but you get the idea of the technique I use. If it appears that a solution is not going to come, I will sometimes suggest a break until the emotions level out and then bring them together again to try to sort it out. But this rarely is the case. Usually they can and will sort it out themselves!

Try this. I dare you. You might find that they stop coming to you because they know what you are going to say, and skip that step altogether and start a conversation on their own. I found some kids doing it the first day! Good Luck!

Did you try this? Did it work for you? I'd love to hear your experience!

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