Thursday, September 27, 2012

First Grade Common Core miss a week in blog-land (or 10 or 12 days) and you might as well have missed 5 years.
At least that's how I feel right now.
I wanted to title this post "Out from under my rock...", but if you keep reading and follow the link, you'll understand why I didn't.

After posting last night about my frustrations with first graders and Common Core math, I caught up on several of my favorite bloggers' recent (within the last week) posts.

Did you know that if you have a blog you can get an amazing Common Core resource for FREEEE?!?
You must hurry super fast, as in now, if you want to cash in on the offer; it expires in 3 days!

All you have to do is post about this little best friend to all teachers implementing Common Core  workbook.

Make sure you include a picture of the workbook and a link to the website like this one:
First Grade Common Core
If you click on the pic above, it will explain it all to you.

Boy, could I have used this puppy over the summer when I was searching for free resources.
But I am definitely looking forward to perusing this goldmine as soon as it's delivered to my inbox!!!

It's already easing my concerns over a new math program.
I'm certain (based on other bloggers' comments) it has some amazing supplemental material.

Spread the word to all your followers, and earn a download of the book for yourself.

P.S. Tomorrow's Friday!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Weigh-In Wednesday

So....I've been MIA for quite sometime.
Stress of school is really sinking in!

Tomorrow, we have intervention meetings in my building.
Basically, we look at data and determine what students need intervention (our state calls it MTSS rather than the RtI acronym most of you use).
I was much more happy with the results of our screeners than I was this time last year!
However, there are quite a few kiddos who need help with very basic math (counting and cardinality).

For that reason, I am so glad I get to represent our building on the math adoption cadre this year!
We desperately need a new program to help prepare students for these math standards required by the Common Core!
Currently, we use Everyday Math, and I LOVE that it includes some higher-order thinking, rich problems. That's obviously where Common Core is headed, but....
...that is not where most beginning of the year first graders fall!
MOST students (in my room, anyway) are not yet ready for that kind of thinking and problem-solving. I don't feel it is a good program for Tier 1- Core support.
It is very beneficial for enrichment; for those kids needing a push in mathematics.

I decided after our initial committee meeting today that I would love for some of my bloggy teacher friends to weigh in with their thoughts.
Don't worry---you don't have to get on a scale!

But tell me your thoughts....and don't be afraid to get a few things off your chest (complaints, challenges).
Maybe you'll feel "lighter" after doing so!
Then you can get on that scale, if you so choose. hehehe.

I know it's the last Wednesday of the month, but I've decided to start a monthly linky on the first Wednesday of the month: Welcome to Weigh-in Wednesday!!
I know it says "worrying", but I needed another "W" word to make it cutesy:)
Think 'stressing', rather than worrying, if you want!
Today's topic: Math curriculums programs.
We all know the standards are our curriculum, and the purchased programs are to help implement those standards, but we often use the term "curriculum" when referring to those packaged deals, so I typed it above so you're not confused about what we're discussing.
Not that you would be. But being a first grade teacher, I guess I feel the need to over explain things every now and then:)
I have only 2 years experience with Everyday Math and 0 experience with any other program:)
What are you thoughts about the program you use?
What do you enjoy about it?
What makes you pull your hair out would you change??

Until I figure out how to do this linky thing (I have no time to research it right now..gotta go through my data, get dinner on the table and fold laundry some time this evening!), I hope you'll be so kind as to comment below!
I'm looking forward to hearing from many voices, as I would love the feedback on some of the programs we're looking at right now (enVision, Investigations, Math Connections, EM with Common Core)
And grab the button above "Today's Topic" to pass the word on to all your followers, if you would!

Thanks, all!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Call to Care...and Word Work, day 1

I'm sure most of you have heard about Alisha's, the Bubbly Blonde Teacher, friend with stage 3 cancer.
This young woman, Tiffany, has a young daughter, and Alisha has graciously set up a fundraiser to help with Tiffany's medical and life expenses.
If, for some reason, you haven't heard about this amazing opportunity to help out (and get some great TpT packets in return), click on the pic below to go to Alisha's blog.

Once she's collected $10, 000, she has to stop collecting donations as required by PayPal.
She's asking for a minimum donation of $20, but the HUGE packet you get is worth 10 times that, so if you can donate more, the option is yours.

And on a school note, my kiddos will be starting to build stamina with Word Work and Listening to Reading tomorrow.
With limited space and resources, I was a little concerned about how all my firsties were going to practice at the same time.
I know this practice isn't stated in The Sister's book, but we are going to split the class up this week and have some students Reading to Someone, some students doing Word Work, and some students Listening to Reading for 15 minutes all at once.
I have about 5 spaces for students to Listen to Reading, 8 spaces for Read to Someone, and several spaces for Word Work...if some students want to do it at their desks.
But if students want to use the word wall or pocket chart, that leaves about 4 spaces.

So, that means we have 5 groups, 5 days, 4 stations...oh, whoops!
Good thing we just got a brand-new cart full of iPads in our primary hall!
The last group can work on iPads:) That works, right?

Tomorrow, we are just going to talk about materials that are available for Word Work & Listen to Reading.
Eventually, I want to incorporate some math with Word Work, because I just got these magnetic Scrabble tiles for my birthday.
yes, those are Halloween decorations in the background.
If the stores are ready, so am I! I just l-o-v-e my Halloween decorations:)
Won't they be perfect for Word Work??!

My kiddos aren't quite ready for this yet, but I will introduce it soon, as there a few almost ready to add more than 2 numbers.
I created this recording sheet to go along with them.

Feel free to click on the pic and download, if you think you can use it!

It also has some Rainbow Writing recording sheets, so students can practice patterning...whether or not patterning is stated directly in Common Core, it's an important skill for mathematical practice!

Thanks for the many emails of Happy Birthday wishes:)
 I had a great day...even though I was recouping from the icky sick-bugs on
You all are the best!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Constitution Day

Monday is Constitution Day, and if your school receives title funding, or is within a district that mostly receives title funding (like title money for my building!), it is a federal law that you do some kind of lesson or activity to help your students understand this critical U.S. document.

My colleague and I are each making a class book of the Preamble.
We will pair our students up, and assign each pair a line or phrase from the Preamble, and discuss any unfamiliar wording within their phrase.
A quick-Anita-Archer-style Vocabulary lesson, in a way...sort of:)

Students will then work with their partner to illustrate their phrase, landscape, on typing paper.
They will glue their paper strip with their phrase somewhere on their illustration.
I had to sing the Schoolhouse Rock Preamble tune just to type it out! HA!
If you want the typed Preamble that you can cut into strips, click HERE.

Our character trait for the month of September is Responsibility.
Therefore, to tie in our character ed. with the Constitution, we will talk about rights and responsibilities, and make a T-chart listing our classroom rights and responsibilities.
It will probably look something like the picture above, although I am going to try to let the students come up with good examples before I throw some of mine in:)

We will then rewrite our classroom rules on poster board, followed by our rights, followed by our responsibilities. When finished, it should look something like this:
Now that I'm finished with testing (for now), I am looking forward to teaching, and I just love social studies and history!

I really appreciate all of you who are spreading the word about my almost-giveaway!
Only 11 more followers, and we can get this show on the road!
Feel free to grab the button below and post on your blog!

I'd appreciate it:)

What are you doing for Constitution Day?
Let me know below!
Oh, and today's my birthday:)
I am proudly 32 years old!!
Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A little Good News!

I'm linking up with Jennifer from Rowdy in First Grade for a positive spin on the sometimes negative outlook I have about school (and life).

I sat through a staff meeting today, where I felt guilty and ashamed for something I did (well, didn't do, actually) for a student last year. It seems there was a student who just slipped through the cracks on reading. Many indicators were there, but he responded so well to intervention, it just seemed like it was either a maturity issue, a motivational issue, or possibly both. This student was very hard to reach, and never seemed a "part" of the class.
Then, to be reminded of all the demands we have this year (updated grades WEEKLY, in first?!, testing, testing, testing, Common Core demands, etc)...I just feel spread so thin, burning the candle from both ends, and completely ineffective as a teacher.
Ever had those days, or am I alone at this pity party??

So, Jennifer's Linky couldn't have come at a better time for me.

Something Good at School:
My students are LOVIN' Daily 5, and working so hard! We are up to 20 minutes at Read to Self (our goal is 25), and 15 minutes at the other 2 components we've learned so far. When we reviewed how to Read to Someone today (with a parent watching the entire time, mind you), they popped up with all those D5 buzzwords that I've pounded into their heads from day one. They explained "Coaching or Time" perfectly...and we only learned about that on Monday! Yay!!
I guess I can do a few things right:)

Something Good at Home:
Two nights ago, my oldest son told me, "This finally feels like a home. I'm so glad to have our own space." And my youngest son said, "I like this house better than my other house."(his dad's)---insert sneaky smile. I honestly strive to never make it a competition, but sometimes it's just nice to hear. I always hear fabulous things about their dad and his family and his girlfriend and all the fun things they do...
It felt so amazing to purchase a home for my boys completely on my own...and apparently make it feel just as good (if not better) than other homes they know.

Now, it's your turn.
You know we all need it!
Link up with Jennifer and spread the love, y'all.
Come on and....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Grandparents' Tea & I {heart} the Dollar Aisle!

Hi, everyone!

Don't you L-O-V-E that Walmart has a dollar spot?
Right before school started, I picked up these HUMONGOUS brightly-colored paper clips, just knowing I would find some brilliant use for them.

Lucky for me, I picked up about 6 packs (so I had at least 1 for each student in my room) because I came up with a super cute way to display our iPad "all APP-out me" posters.

Some font decorating with Powerpoint, Crayola "Bold" markers, and Scotch Laminator later (because I don't have a Cameo...Sadsville, as Michelle would say) :

...I now have fabulous name signs to hold all my students' work throughout the year!

I would show you the cute posters hanging from the name signs, but the download is no longer available from the creator. However, you can find something very similar and just as wonderful from Kate of EduKate and Inspire at her TpT store: just look for her iStudent pack.

I wanted to get these lovely name tags up before we had guests for "tea and cookies" on Monday.
Our school district strives for family and community involvement, so we always do Grandparents' Day up right.
Last year, it was a Grandparents' Breakfast.
There were some "kinks" in that system, so we tried an afternoon tea this year:)

It was an absolute hit!
Here is just a glimpse of how crowded my classroom was at 2:30:
and that's just one corner of my world, y'all...
...wall-to-wall people!
You should have seen the halls & the library! Oh my...
We coincide our Grandparent celebration with our Book Fair, so you know we bring in a few bucks there!! Grandparents are such suckers wonderful providers for their grandchildren's education!

I say this with sincere appreciation, as my own parents and former in-laws were taking turns ushering my boys to the book fair:)
One grandma told me "you can never spoil a child with books!"
You are so right, Grammy!

How does your school celebrate grandparents?
I'd love to hear about it!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Favorite FREEBIE Linky

I'm linking up with Cynthia from 2nd Grade Pad to share my favorite freebie.

I haven't made that many freebies yet (just gettin' started here!), but I think my very favorite one so far is my "Chicka Trees" center activity.
This game helps with letter and number (0-9) recognition, as well as color words and introduces sentences (punctuation). It's a great beginning-of-year informal assessment for first grade, and would be good to have at the end of the year in Kindergarten.
My students love this book-inspired center when they get a chance to use it.

It is my favorite because:
It is the first center activity I ever made myself, rather than purchased or downloaded:)
And I love to integrate activities to literature...I LOVE children's literature!

How to use it:
I print my trees and sentence mat so that letters are on one side and numbers on the other, but you could print on separate papers to separate the designated task. If you print letters and numbers front and back as I do, you will need to separate letter and number cards by rubber banding them together in two separate piles.
Students must decide whether they are going to use the letter side of the mats, or the number sides.
They will need to have both mats (chick trees and sentence mat) sitting face up, though one of my centers has a paper holder that I include for students to stand up the Chicka Trees.
If students are using the letter sides, they will need to get the deck of letter cards, and if they are using the number side they will the number cards (obviously).
 Starting from the top of the pile, students put a letter on the sentence mat, check the Chicka trees mat for that letter, then complete the bottom sentence by finding a matching color word for that letter.
The color words can be used with matching color dots or without, depending on the student's readiness level.
Here is my brilliant 5-year-old playing my Chicka Trees pack at home (he and his brother are always my guinea pigs!):

what a ham:)

Kid-tested, Aiden-approved!
I keep all my pieces in the same envelope, but you could separate your letters and numbers if you like!
Click on the pic above to go to Google Docs and get your copy!!
What's your favorite freebie you've made? Link up with Cynthia and share!

Don't forget to spread the word to your friends and followers to check out my little ol' blog...17 more followers and we can all get down with a 100 follower GIVEAWAY!!! Yay!
Happy Monday, y'all!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pass It On!

Just a quick post to let you know some great plans are in the works for a 1-0-0 follower giveaway!
clipart and images from: KPM Doodles, 3amTeacher, and DigiScrap Delights
I just can't believe the generosity of some of the most talented bloggers I know!
 I guarantee most of you stalk loyally follow many --if not all-- of the bloggers involved in this giveaway!!!
They have some great packets up for grabs, but we can't get the party started just yet...

Pass it on to your friends and followers who may not know about my sweet little blog.
17 more, and we can celebrate the coming season in style!

And if I have to bribe you, my birthday is this Saturday (the 15th), and helping me reach this milestone would be the nicest gift you could give me:)

I finished that fall packet I mentioned.
Go ahead and grab yours from my TpT store.
Thanks, all you lovely, loyal followers!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Checking for Understanding & TELL YOUR FRIENDS!

Hi, Friends!
How was your "Woo-Hoo" Friday?

Can I just say how much I love my class??
And can I just say how much more I love the brilliant Sisters, and the Daily 5???!
My aide and I decided what we have implemented in just a few short weeks is a far-cry from the loud, "controlled chaos" that was my literacy block last year.
Seriously, the Sisters...GENIUSES!

Anywho, we are currently building stamina for Read to Self (we're up to 16 min), Work on Writing (we're up to 10 min) and Read to Someone (8 min).
On Monday, we will launch Word Work, and we'll have a lesson on Checking for Understanding during Read to Someone.
I really wanted to find a cool checkmark to utilize during that time, but have yet to find one that strikes my fancy.
I also wanted it to double as my "coaching sheet" when they start to work on that aspect.
Since I couldn't find one I loved... I made one!
It's supposed to resemble a megaphone:)
You just print and fold it in half, so one side is your Checking for Understanding and the other side is your Coaching sheet. I plan on printing mine on card stock, and letting the kids add some color and "personality" to their megaphone (though not over any of the words).

If you love it as well, feel free to use it.
If not, please let me know how I can make it better!!

Okay, everyone...I NEED YOUR HELP!

I am currently 17 followers away from triple digits, and I have an UH-mazing giveaway planned when I hit 1-0-0..., spread the word! 
Tell your friends, and tell them to tell their friends, and so on and so forth, so we can get this party started!
Many of the bloggers I admire and aspire to be like are taking part in donating FABULOUS prizes, so don't delay...act now!

Hope your weekend is super relaxing.
We had a bit of fall-ish weather that is putting me in the mood to make some Fall Fry back soon with that Freebie:)
Thanks for hanging with me, dear friends!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Currently and Goal Setting FREEBIE!

Hello, good friends!

I know we all say it every time there is a new month, but I simply cannot believe it is already September!
Which means, I'm linkin' up with Farley for my second Currently.
Here goes:

After you claim your FREEBIE below, go link up for yourself, and REMEMBER THE RULE OF 3:
Comment on the 2 before you, and the 1 after:)
Spread the love, y'all!

(If you want to skip the wordy narrative and go straight to your freebie, now's the time. I'll forgive you.)

Last year (my first year teaching on my own), we set a goal as a class that we wanted to work on for the week.
As a brand-new teacher, I thought my brilliant class of six- and seven-year-olds would help me come up with some great things we could all improve upon, and some students did inspire several of the goals in my download.
However, others came up with things such as "stop picking my boogers and eating them", "start eating more fruits and vegetables", and "tell my brother I love him every day".
Now, those are all good goals (I seriously hope the student who suggested to stop nose-picking accomplished that over the summer), but not exactly what I was looking for in regards to classroom appropriate goals.

So, I came up with most of the 18 goals that I want my class to work on during the first 18 weeks of school (1 goal per week. Sounds doable, right?), and I will discuss them with my class instead of having them come up with the ideas this least, for now.
These goals are honestly in no particular order, although we did use the first two cards as our first two goals.
You could introduce them whenever you see a need.
I plan on displaying them all year long, as a reference (even when we aren't currently working on a certain goal) after they have been introduced.
Last year, I wrote them on sentence strips, but I liked the pictures better for emergent readers and visual learners.
And folks...some pictures are really stretching it.
I don't yet have as many as I would like in my collection.
See why I just can't get cable yet? (close your mouth, it's not that shocking. No, I'm not a zealot who thinks TV is from the devil, although, some shows on TV, I seriously wonder about...)

Anyway, I will display the goal cards on the poster pictured below.
Click (HERE) to get a different version of the poster.
Google Docs hates me and won't let me upload the cute one, so if you want the one I'll be using, email me and I'll send it to you!
Clipart and frame courtesy of Frog Spot/From the Pond.

And I will try to post all 18 goals in my room (somewhere) after each one is introduced.
Click on either pic of the cards to download from my TpT store.

Do you have any suggestions for goals you like your students to work on?
Sorry...I refuse to make a nose-picking card, but I might try to incorporate a few other necessary ideas!
Let me know what you think below, or leave me some feedback at my tiny store.
I know you won't get credits for freebies, but I will sincerely appreciate it!

Okay, that about does it for the night.
Friday is on the horizon, dear friends! Yeah, yeah!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It's a Wonderful bloggy-World...

Hi friends!
Remember a few posts back when I blogged about Amanda from Teaching Maddeness' HEARALL giveaway, and I mentioned how much I wanted one, and I think I actually called it my prize?

Turns out I'm not a liar...I truly won that Hearall Assessment Recorder! Me!! (haha! eat it suckahs!) sorry...I can be really competitive sometimes:) And I had entered sooooo many giveaways for one of those!
I'm sure many of you are in the same boat; I apologize, sincerely, for gloating. teeheehee
In case you care (if you really wanted that prize, you probably do NOT care, so skip a few lines to where it breaks and continue reading), I posolutely L-O-V-E my Hearall! My students are so engaged in "Read to Someone" stamina-building now that they know they will be recorded!
"Big Brother is listening"...sort of:)
And running records are a breeze now that I can hit "Record" and check it off later.
Instead of focusing on those papers, I can focus on the student's reading behaviors, i.e., tracking, looking at picture clues, etc.
You have to get one!!
I currently have a Donors Choose project to add another (I'm greedy) one to my classroom for running records, as well as those cool Easi-Speak microphones everyone's blogged about. It expires in November so click HERE if you want to help out my class....we would love it:)!!
Or click HERE if you want to start your own Donors Choose project but aren't sure how.
It's Easy-Peasy:) They will walk you through it.
Good luck, and let me know if you post one!

Anyway, the real reason for this post is to let you know that Amanda (my new bf, unbeknownst to her) has so kindly taken time away from her uh-mazing ideas to blog about "budding bloggers", like myself. She is featuring little ol' me today:)

So stop by her AWEsome blog and leave me (or her...) some love!

Teaching Maddeness

And after reading about me, feel free to peruse her blog for the cutest monster creations on the planet! Her theme is incredible...I almost wish I could be a student in her class:)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Answers to my problems...and maybe yours, too!

Some bloggers out there are simply geniuses.
Kristin, from a Teeny Tiny Teacher, has given me two absolute pearls this year.
We are currently using her "gold tag" system, as a K-1 discipline plan.
And just when I thought I couldn't handle the chattiness of my group one day more, I find her "Quiet Creature". Her Quiet Creature was given to her by a friend; I simply use my hand.
It works!
It's like silent magic. You will amaze your friends and family.

Do you do the Daily 5?
My partner teacher and I thought we were doing it last year (we did have some components), but after participating in a book study this summer, and really digging into the "meat" of what the sisters do, I have implemented a much more efficient Daily 5 that looks like a truer version than last year's (except I only have time for 3 work does ANYONE have time for six???)

My kidlets are currently building stamina with Read to Self (we're up to 12 minutes!!) and Work on Writing, and we will begin Read to Someone next Tuesday. They love it! And you gotta love that:)

I was trying to find some resources for "coaching" and "checking for understanding", and I stumbled across this HUGE goldmine of D5 resources. Check out SOME of the wonderful things they offer:

Aren't these shoes the best? There is one for each letter of I-PICK,
and it really drives home the shoe analogy the sisters use!

LOVE this rubric!
 It will help me be much more consistent and fair with their reading grades.

This is AWESOME!
It will help keep kids accountable to how they're using their time once we move into full implementation.
I'm thinking I'll start to phase it out after Christmas Break...
All these Fantabulous resources AND MUCH, MUCH MORE can be found at this site: Teachem2think. Gotta love that title!
By the way, I am in no way affiliated with the above mentioned website, and I receive no compensation (etc, etc) for mentioning them.
 I was just simply amazed and thought others might like their resources, as well!

Finally, if you've made it to the end of this LOOONG post, I think you deserve a little something. My kiddos will start using these in the next couple of weeks, and maybe your kiddos will find them helpful, too. If you use Fry phrases, like our reading program, here are some Fry Phrases with cute clipart.
Just click the pic to go to my TpT store...I know! I'm on the bandwagon, people!
I have one whole product in my store:)

Have a totally awesome (and RELAXING) Labor Day Weekend!!!