• Planning with a Purpose (or the year we went off the iRead chart)

    Posted by Alison Ruoff on 3/1/2020 10:00:00 AM

    In reflecting on my Professional Learning Plan (PLP), specifically the instructional growth component, the idea was to take our iRead program and break down specific daily learning intentions that corresponded to the foundational reading skills that all Kindergarten students are expected to learn.  In Kindergarten, it can be tricky to manage learning intentions in conjunction with success criteria in a way that is meaningful to students while still maintaining relevancy (Why are syllables important?  Because they help us read big words).

    This is where our iRead gameboard comes into play.  In order to implement the insturctional goal of daily learning intentions with a way students could monitor their progress and mastery of a skill, I needed to understand the scope and sequence of what exactly they were learning in iRead and how we could create our "I can" statements to organize our success criteria.  

    iRead gameboard

    iRead is organized by units (Level A = Kindergarten, Level B = 1st grade, Level C = 2nd grade).  Within each unit are Series which have a specific skill focus with our end of the year goal as Series 19.  Because iRead has differentiated placement students all start at different lessons (or series) at the beginning of the year with adaptive instruction for students who are below, on, or above grade level.  Each student has their reading "beastie" on the board to track their progress and know what their learning intention is on iRead.  All students have about 12-15 minutes on iRead every day.

    My past experiences with my classroom and iRead over the years was that initially students enjoyed iRead, but as the year went on they lost interest and were disengaged.  I would have one or two students reach their year end goal with the majority not really knowing/caring where they were or where they were going. 

    iread card Once a week, I record everyones progress on their iRead card that we keep in a pocket chart.  The star after their number is how they know that their number got "bigger" and they are making progress.  This has become part of our weekly routine and the students look foward to it.  I do special shout outs to the students who have moved their beastie and then we talk about our super important moves where our learning intentions change.  

    Is this system perfect?  No.  There are always things that can be changed when implementing something new.  I do know that about 95% of my class this year will meet their year end goal with 38% who currently have exceeded their end of year goal in February.

    I look forward to using this for years to come and appreciate the opportunity to learn new things to help my students learn.  Long live Kindergarten!!

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  • Minecraft Sight Word Wall - Developing Assessment Capable Visible Learners

    Posted by Alison Ruoff on 8/19/2019 11:00:00 AM

    Under our class documents section, you will find a list of all the Kindergarten sight words in addition to our Minecraft Sight Words.  These lists both contain the same words but the Minecraft list is broken down into six different levels (Enchanted Words, Iron Words, Golden Words, Redstone Words, Diamond Words, and Ender Words).  These levels are broken down by weeks and are in the order of how we introduce the sight words in school.  

    Our year end goal is to have all Kindergarteners to know at least 70 sight words.  This list has 113 words.  The idea behind the wall in our room is to give the students agency and ownership for their learning through goal setting.  It also helps them become active participants in their learning.  We will be working on setting goals throughout the year, always with the focus being on progress, not just outcomes.

    Minecraft Wall

    They will initially be assessed on all of their sight words and this is counted towards their year end goal of 70, regardless of what level the words are in.  In order for them to get their Minecraft person on the wall next to a level, they need to master ALL of the words in that level.  Students will move their person to the next level as they learn the words with the end goal being Ender Words.  When they reach the Diamond Words, they also earn a set of diamond armor to put on their Minecraft person.  

    Golden Words

    At open house in September, I give everyone their own set of sight word flashcards in addition to the lists for you to work on at home.  You can also search through old blog posts of mine to find tip and tricks to help your little one learn the sight words if they are showing resistance to this.  I have also included in our Classroom Documents section of our website Fry's first 400 sight words, which are the words they will be working on in First Grade.  If your little one does master all levels, we will continue to challenge them with Nether Words (I need to make this level for my wall) as I haven't needed it yet but I did have some get close last year!  


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  • Welcome to the 2019-2020 School Year

    Posted by ALISON RUOFF on 8/11/2019 2:00:00 PM

    Welcome to the newest members of the Eagle Hills family!  I have been in the classroom getting ready for the new year and I can't wait to meet my new group of 25 students.

    first day back Our meet and greet is on August 22nd from 3:30-4:30.  This is a great time to come and just check out our awesome classroom and get some first day jitters out.  Tuition Kindergergarten kiddos don't need any supplies as I provide all of them throughout the year.  The only thing they should bring with them on the first day of school is their backpack.  A traditional backpack is best for our school setting (no wheels or luggage handle and no super tiny backpacks).  If they are eating hot lunch through the cafeteria, please make sure to have money on their account.  It helps to explain prior to the first day that at school "cold lunch" is the food that you bring from home and "hot lunch" is the food you get at school.

    Skype Ready Please click on the links underneath Tuition Kndergarten to check out some of our procedures for Eagle Hills regarding drip off and pick up, snacks, backpacks, etc.  As we get closer to school I will continue to update the website with 2019 information (field trips, show and tell).  

    Be looking for a little postcard in the mail as I am still such a fan of sending letters, notes, and postcards to show that you are thinking about someone.  

    I am including some valuable information that I think is helpful for mommies and daddies heading into a new school year especially if this is your first experience in a public school system.  

    How to Handle Back to School Blues

    School Success Starts Early

    Start School with a Smile

    Manners Matter

    Be looking for an email from me later in the week.  I will be trying out the new district messaging system (keep fingers crossed).  As always, if you have any questions or concerns please email me.  

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  • The End is Here!

    Posted by ALISON RUOFF on 5/31/2018

    What an amazing Kindergarten Promotion we had this morning.  These last days of school are always so bittersweet.  The anticipation of summer coupled with the slow realization that our time together is coming to an end can be hard for the little ones.  We have been talking a lot about next year and how we get to be neighbors at Eagle Hills in the hallway.  I am hoping to continue Minecraft Club so hopefully I will see some familiar 1st grade Minecraft experts in 2018-2019 after school. 

    Graduation Pic

    Ready to Walk to the Gym for our big day!


    Field Day Fun

    Field Day

    Field Day


    I have been blessed this year with an outstanding bunch of students.  This is a testament to you, the parents, for all of your support, love, and consistency at home.  Thanks for all you do and have done for our class this year. 

    Zoo Boise



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  • Exciting Things Coming to Minecraft After School Club!

    Posted by ALISON RUOFF on 1/14/2018

    Check back soon for updates about our Minecraft Club.  Quest-Based Learning with Rezzly!!!

    Rezzly Teacher Badge

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  • A Look Back at 2017 in Room 2

    Posted by ALISON RUOFF on 12/14/2017

    A week from today, we will be beginning our much anticipated Winter Break and saying goodbye to the 2017 schoolyear.  What an amazing year we have had so far.  Sometimes the blog has to take a back seat but.... 

    Here are a few of the highlights from our year so far:


    • We went on three (yes three) field trips this month.  Please check out our visits to the apple orchard, Eagle Fire Station, and Linder Farms in the photo albums.  The unintentional theme this month was getting out and about exploring in our community and learning about our world.

    leaf hunt


    • We start coding right away in the beginning of the year with our Dash and Dot robots, Cubelets, and Awbie, our favorite strawberry eating monster in Osmo.




    • We went to the Boise Art Museum and explored more lego fun with the Abstract art exhibit.

    Quinn art

    • We launched our "LEGO Wall of Fame" in the classroom which turned out to be a big success.  It all started with a download from The Stem Laboratory.  The kiddos submit their completed challenges to me in their Seesaw Digital Journals to earn their picture on our Wall of Fame.  

    lego wall of fame

    Lego Challenge:  Create a Lego boat that really floats

    This challenge proved to be the most popular, which led us to explore properties of matter and why things sink and float.  There is a great Brainpop Jr. video about this and most kiddos made revised boats to improve their original design.  

    Lego Boat


    • We were happy to welcome Osmo Jam and Coding Duo into our Osmo family.  Osmo Jam is all about coding awesome music and doing advanced coding skills, like creating subgroups.  Coding Duo is a two player coding gave with our favorite monsters Mo and Awbie.  

    • And of course our 2017 highlights wouldn't be complete without Minecraft.  With some technical difficulties at the beginning of the year, we have had all 9 desktops and laptops up and running.  We have been prefecting our Minecraft skills and have started to work in an economic simulation world, where we earn gold nuggets for working on the farm, lumberyard, or in the mine.  We have our own plots of land and are building our dream houses.  creeper

    Announcing Minecraft Club with Ms. Ruoff in 2018!!

    2018 will prove to be an amazing year with an amazing class.  Permission slips for the afterschool Minecraft Club went home hard copy yesterday and will be in the Blue News tomorrow.  They need to be returned by Winter Break to get signued up for one of the two sessions being offered.  

    I wish many blessings for you and your little one over Winter Break and look forward to seeing them in the new year!  


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  • A Look At Our First 8 Days of Kindergarten

    Posted by ALISON RUOFF on 9/1/2017

    Welcome to another year full of wonder in Kindergarten.  These first few weeks of school can be daunting with new schedules, mountains of paperwork, and, in Kindergarten, lots of new everything!


    For some, this is their first experience in a formal school setting and others are seasoned veterans of preschool or daycare.  Our Tuition Kindergarten program here at Eagle Hills is unique and I look forward to sharing more about our class with you at our Open House night on September 7th.


    If you subscribe to our Seesaw journal, you have been catching glimpses of our learning throughout the day.  We start right away with working on routines and rotating through our learning centers.  We work on everything from how to line up to perfecting our going home routine.  Many of the activities are designed to be low stress, fun, and welcoming.


    I have been assessing all of the children and will share those assessments with you at parent teacher conferences.  The beauty of Kindergarten is that we all start at different places and are given exactly what we need in order to be successful. 


    I can already tell that this year is going to be one for the record books.  With almost all of the students logging into their own iRead account and showing me that they are independent problem solvers.  


    We have been able to explore our coding robots, post in our digital journals, and just today, had our first experience in Minecraft Education Edition.  We all make our lunch choices using our clickers and have (almost) mastered our ABC lunch order.  

    Learning with Mo the Monster

    We love our mixed reality app Monster on Osmo!  Just simple routines like where the supplies are and how we clean up are so, so important right now to have a successful rest of our year.  


    I love to sing (even though I'm not very good) and we're learning our song cues like champions.  Our days seem to go so fast!  We did our first Wet-Dry-Try today and have our first entries in our problem solving notebooks.  


    My goal for these first few weeks of school, and really the whole year, is to make your child love learning!  I want this to be a place they want to come to in the morning and I think we're off to a great start!  

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  • Minecraft Education Edition

    Posted by Alison Ruoff on 2/19/2017

    Our Minecraft project is in full swing in Room 2!  If your little one has been coming home and talking about playing Minecraft with their teacher, it's true!  I thought this would be a great place for you to learn more about all of the amazing things we are doing.  

    Minecraft Center

    This Minecraft project started at the beginning of the year in my Teaching and Learning in Virtual Worlds class for my EdS degree through Boise State University.  For years my students have been coming to school talking about Minecraft, wearing their Minecraft t-shirts, and bringing their Minecraft toys for show and tell.  I had always dismissed Minecraft.  I didn't know how to play or understand why my students liked it so much.  The phrase "I don't get it." comes to mind.  Dr. Haskell, my professor at BSU, is an educational games and virtual worlds expert and inspired me to integrate this powerful learning tool in my classroom.  I felt so strongly about doing this that I spent months filling out paperwork and working with the IT department to make it happen.  

    At this point in time we having been using it the classroom for about a week.  One story I would like to share with you happened on Friday.  We were looking at our recently built homes.  Every student had their own plot of land and we went through the streets of our town talking about things that we liked and how we could make things better and one of my little guys said, "I didn't know girls could build that."  A boy sitting next to him said, "Of course they can build stuff, look at Ms. Ruoff, she is a girl."  I said that I was learning how to build things just like they were and that everyone can build amazing things, boys and girls.  I can't even begin to explain all of the incredible moments I have seen with my kindergarten.  I had only about 4 students who had ever played Minecraft on a PC before.  Some had experience with it on an Xbox or iPad so learning to use both hands to navigate was the first skill that we worked on as a group.  

    I am in the process of documenting literally "our first steps" into lessons so I can develop a scope and sequence for future years.  There is a lot of formative assessment on the fly when I'm working with the kiddos and from this has come:  Line Dancing with Ms. Ruoff, Follow the Leader, Simon Says, and Hide and Seek: Find Ms. Ruoff Challenge.  We are all having so much fun..."Ms. Ruoff where are you hiding?" or "I'll help you.  Watch me." or "I did it!!"  

    I have decided to divide up our Minecraft experiences into three areas, experiences where I am working with them, experiences working with their group, and free choice, where they can explore, experiment and do whatever they choose.  I have seen such high levels of cooperation and collaboration between my students that I feel the need to pinch myself.  


    For more information and links to research regarding Game-Based Education please click here or visit Minecraft Education Edition  

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  • Caine's Arcade and the Cardboard Challenge

    Posted by Alison Ruoff on 9/22/2016
    Inspired by the short film, "Caine's Arcade," the Global Cardboard Challenge is an annual event presented by the Imagination Foundation that celebrates child creativity and the role communities can play in fostering it.  This September, kids of all ages are invited to build anything they can dream up using cardboard, recycled materials, and imagination. 
    We will be having our 1st Global Cardboard Challenge here in Room 2 on Friday, September 30th in the afternoon after our field trip to Candy Apple Orchard.  All parents are welcome to join us after we get back (around 1:00pm) to 2:30.  If you do plan on attending please shoot me a quick email response.  We will continue our challenge on Monday and Tuesday with reflection and sharing.  We will prepare for our Cardboard Challenge on Thursday, September 29th by watching the videos below and discussing what we will do.  
    How You Can Help:
    • Please send any cardboard you would like to donate to this project to school with your child the morning of Friday, September 30th.  I am asking that you not send it in prior to our event because I don't have adequate space to store it.
    • Please check out why creative play is important here: http://cardboardchallenge.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/DFC-Cardboard-Challenge-Playbook-2016.pdf
    • If you can't send in cardboard supplies it is ok.  Everyone will be working together and I am going to enlist the help of Mr. Dave, our janitor, to round up as many cardboard things for us as possible.  

    Caine's Arcade 2: From a Movie to a Movement from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

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  • Lockdown Drill

    Posted by Alison Ruoff on 9/13/2016

    We practiced a lockdown drill today in class.  I talked to the kiddos about how it's like how we practice our fire drill once a month.  I told them that a lockdown is when there may be someone or something unsafe in or around our school.  During our lockdown we find our safe spot in the corner by my desk.  This is a place where we can't be seen from either door.  I put up our door cover and shut off the lights.  I also move some of our furniture in front of the door.  These things can be difficult for our little ones to understand.  I keep the conversation focused on this is how we would need to stay safe and that it is my job to keep them safe.  During a drill we stay put in one spot.  I talk to them a little about if we ever did have a real lockdown, the most important thing to do is stay cool like a cucumber and to follow my instructions.  If I felt that it was safer for the class to leave the school grounds we would do so together.  It is important to talk at home with your little one too.  

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