Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

First Blogger Meet Up

Today was the Oklahoma Blogger Meet Up!  Due to unfortunate circumstances several people couldn't make it, but Jennifer from Herding Kats in Kindergarten, Kaci from Mrs. Hoffer's Spot and I had a wonderful chat!  We sat in Cheesecake Factory for over 3 1/2 hours!  The food was delicious and the stories were even better.  I want to say a huge thank you to the ladies for putting it together and we will have to do it again sometime.

If you have not checked out their blogs, you must!  They are serious about this stuff!  If you mention an activity they can tell you who in "Blogland" wrote it.  I clearly have a lot of catching up to do!

Now I am off to catch up on the Olympics.  Thank heavens for DVR's!

Friday, July 27, 2012


Talk to me about consequences in your room...What happens when Johnny has to move his clothespin, turn a card etc.

I am not a fan of taking away recess due to their need to expel energy and unless I sacrifice my lunch there is no way to enforce them walking/running laps.  I need some new ideas for my little firsties!

Not 1 but 2 Awards!!!

Jessica at Tales Of A First Grade Teacher gave me 2 awards!  Thank you so much!

For the One Lovely Blog Award:  

 For receiving this award I have to...

1. Follow the person who gave me the award.

2. Link back to the person that gave me the award.

3. Pass to 5 new bloggers and then let them know they have received the award.

The rules:
1.  Link back to the person who gave it to you.
2.  Post the award to your blog. 
3.  Give the award to other bloggers with less than 200 followers.

I Nominated:

The First Grade Scoop
That's So Second Grade
Schoolhouse Treasures
A Day In First Grade
Mrs. Saunders' Lovelies

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Year Long Master Plan

I was wondering if everyone out there has a year long master plan or if you sort of wing it.  I am too OCD to wing it.  I had to sit down from the very beginning and outline everything.  Of course, I know I won't get through it all due to field trips, assemblies, snow days and fire drills, but at least I have a plan.  As I stated in previous posts, I am not a thematic person, I am a unit person.  I like to dive deep into a unit and cover it thoroughly so that we can reference back to it later in the year and the kiddos will still remember it.

My first step was to create a list of topics that I wanted to cover and figure out how many school days I was planning for.  Our year ended around 165 last year, so I am sticking with that number.

Math - this was simple because there are 10 units for our Everyday Math Curriculum.  Our team plans to teach math Monday-Thursday with Friday being a catch up/game day.  I also added in a day for review.  I counted the lessons, added the review day, and spread them out on my calendar (which you will see in a minute) skipping Fridays along the way.

Reading - I decided on the following units: Strategies, Literary Elements, Sequencing, Main Idea and Details, Cause and Effect, Compare and Contrast, and Text Features.  I figured out that each unit would be about 25 days with Sequencing only being 15.  At the end of each reading unit I included a reader's chair day where the kiddos can choose one of their independent level guided reading books and share it with the class.  This is put in place as a "non-stress" activity to let our brains rest a little. (Oh and it's a great way to meet those Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards!)

Writing - I decided on the following units:  Writing Process, Narrative, How To, Friendly Letter, Descriptive, Persuasive, Report, and Compare and Contrast.  These units are about 20 days. At the end of each writing unit I included an author's chair day where the kiddos can share their writing piece with the class.  This is put in place as a "non-stress" activity to let our brains rest a little. (Oh and it's a great way to meet those Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards!)

Word Work - student paced because we are using Words Their Way in a guided spelling setup.

Science and Social Studies - our district has these broken down into marking periods so it's pretty straight forward.

After making all of my lesson plans I went through and added in the Common Core.  Yes, some may say that's backwards, but you would be surprised how well it works out.  Any standards I may have missed will be thrown into guided reading.

My lesson plans are labeled with the unit and what day they are for: Narrative Day 1, Narrative Day 2, etc.

Here is a sample of the calendar that I use:

Now I also realize that days 5, 10, and 15 may not be Fridays, but it all works out in the end.  I still know that by day 15 we should have our Writing Process unit finished up.

I did mine in Excel but, I know some of you are scared to death of Excel.   You can do the same thing in Word by inserting a table.

*Before anyone thinks that I am nuts for actually starting Writing, Math and Science on Day 1, let me explain:  Writing for day 1 will be "What do writers write?"  the perfect way to get their brains thinking about writing.  Math for the first week will be exploring their math toolkits, exploring the math manipulatives, showing me that they can write their nubmers, etc.  During Science we will trace each other and color them in and describe how we are alike and different.  Perfect first week stuff!  And if you notice the hour for guided reading, hour for guided math, and 30 minutes for reading, and 20 minutes for word work are free and clear and available for all of those first week activities.

So do you have a master plan?  Do you need help creating a master plan?  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My First Blog Hop!

Grade Three Is The Place For Me is hosting a new blogger blog hop.  Head on over to join!

My Five Facts:
1) I'm in Oklahoma
2) I teach first grade
3) This is technically my first year teaching
4) I started blogging a couple of weeks ago
5) Check out http://teachingsuperpower.blogspot.com/p/blog-baby-blog.html to get help with your blog

Blog Award...I think?!

Vicky at http://themadnessthatiskindergarten.blogspot.com/ gave me an award!  Thank you Vicky! I recommend everyone go check out her blog, it's adorable and has lot of cute ideas!

The problem is that I have no idea what I do now. :-)  I copied and pasted the picture of the award.  Hopefully that's what I'm supposed to do. 

Third Grade Homework!

I had no intention of making a third grade homework set, however someone requested it.  So here it is! 

This idea was inspired by The Lesson Plan Diva. She was unable to post her homework because her team made it. So I made my own. 

There is a page of literacy homework and a page of math homework for 32 weeks. There is also a homework helper to go along with it. Some questions repeat, but they are many weeks apart. 
It is Common Core aligned.

Literacy Topics include:*Identifying a correct sentence*Combining two simple sentences*Syllables*Contractions*Irregular Plural Nouns*Past Tense Verbs*Compound Words*Synonyms and Antonyms*Handwriting - Cursive*Analogies

Math Topics Include:*Word Problems*Rounding To The Nearest 10 and 100*Writing Numbers in Expanded Form*Writing Numbers in Word Form*Graphing*Addition and Subtraction - 2 and 3 digit*Perimeter and Area*Skip Counting - to promote multiplication facts.*Fact Families - Multiplication and Division*Fractions - dividing and shading shapes, fractions of a group, comparing fractions, equivalent fractions.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Second Grade Homework Now Available!

Due to the popularity of the first grade homework, I have created a second grade edition. This idea was inspired by The Lesson Plan Diva.  She was unable to post her homework because her team made it.  So I made my own. 

There is a page of literacy homework and a page of math homework for 32 weeks.  There is also a homework helper to go along with it.  Some questions repeat, but they are many weeks apart.  It is Common Core aligned.

Literacy Topics include:
*Identifying a correct sentence
*Combining two simple sentences
*Irregular Plural Nouns
*Past Tense Verbs
*Compound Words
*Synonyms and Antonyms

Math Topics Include:
*Addition and Subtraction
*Fact Families
*Place Value

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Classroom Photos!!!!

 I finally got to take some photos of my room today!  Huge thank you to my mom who came to visit for a week in May and helped me get my room 99% ready!  

You can see the door at the very left of the this picture.  I am going to clockwise around my room.  The four section whiteboard will hold the four spelling lists for my four spelling groups (Words Their Way).  In the middle is my SMARTBoard. In the foreground of the photo you can see a cart with cords, speakers, and a mini whiteboard.  The cart will hold my laptop, projector, and document camera.  To the right of my SMARTBoard is a bookshelf holding supplies.  The T.V. is going to be taken down since I have a SMARTBoard and the shelf is going to be turned against that wall.  Behind this shelf is another whiteboard so that I still have a little whiteboard room if I need it.

Pretty baskets holding supplies. Uh oh I just saw the two blue baskets on the second shelf.  That will get changed the next time I go in.  Sorry OCD is kicking in.

Morning Meeting board.  The skinny pocket chart will hold our schedule and the empty pocket chart to the right will hold our essential questions for each subject.  You can also see our computer center. 

Next to the Morning Meeting board is our Word Wall and Word Work center.

The Word Wall is in the corner of our room and this cabinet meets up with the Word Wall.  It holds my borders and all of our math manipulatives.  On the front we will keep track of our sight word and math fact mastery.  Kiddos can earn stickers to track their progress.  Next to this is a big set of drawers that holds all of my decorations for each holiday and our classroom mailboxes on top.

Next to the set of drawers are two tables of desks.  You can see my tool-turnabouts with their supplies.  There is a third set of desks to the right of this picture.

Each set of desks has a set of shelves at the end to hold their supplies.  The top shelf will hold their folders, mini trashcan (the blue bucket) and a box of tissues.  The next shelf has their browsing boxes (books that are at their independent level).  The bottom shelf has their math toolkits, base-10 boxes, and letter boxes for making words.

Next to the desks is the only bookshelf in my room where books can actually stand up.  On the top shelf are my file folder games neatly organized by category.  On the next shelf down are my binders which will be labeled before school starts. The next shelf has the students math binders on the left (labeled with their student number) and then our classroom library.  I will be hitting up another used book sale in August. :-) The bottom shelf has the Leap Pad materials, books that don't fit into categories and then more books neatly sorted.

File Folder Games

Classroom Library Bins

 Coming around the corner you will find our focus walls.  These are dry erase boards which will hold our essential questions, anchor charts, sample foldables, vocabulary, etc.  Oh and in the bottom right corner you can see my cute rugs from Walmart and some pillows in the our classroom library.  In the foreground you can see the drawers of markers.  I saw lots of teachers on Pinterest who sort their markers by color so I thought I would try it out and see what the fuss is about.  The two sets of little drawers hold the skinny markers and the big set of drawers holds the regular markers.

Guided Reading Table 
(The blank focus wall will be for science and social studies. I just need to find letters to put up there.)

Guided Reading Bins
(No, there is not a specific reason that B, C, H, and K have orange letters.  The pack of black letters only has one of each of those and they were left at the "private" school that I was at previously.  I just need to find another pack of letters.  The red bin is currently holding my sight word photo albums which will be handed out as soon as the kiddos get there.  The black tool-turnabout is mine and will be a "teacher touch" only so the kiddos keep their grubby paws off. :-) You can also see my Buzz! games and Power Towers on the bottom shelf.  Duct tape is so much fun!

Writing Center and Writing Focus Wall
(All of the junk on the table is going to storage as soon as the janitor figures out where that "storage" is going to be. And please excuse the ceiling tiles in the corner.  They are trying to figure out how to hang our projectors from the ceiling so that we don't have to orient our SMARTBoard every 2 seconds.)  The sorting bins will hold my copies for the week.  I highly recommend this method of organization.  It is so nice to just grab what you need and go.  The cabinet at the right of the picture will hold our clothespin chart and library card pouches.  The library pouches will hold the tickets my kiddos earn for good behavior.  When they earn 20 tickets they get a prize.

Well that's it...any tips or suggestions?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Grading Policy - Report Cards

How many of you have to give a letter grade to your kiddos?  I was shocked when I found out we had to give our kiddos an actual percentage grade for their assignments.  And we have to have 18 grades for each subject for the marking period.  That means twice a week we have to make sure the kiddos are doing an assignment that shows their individual ability and we can actually put a grade on.  We have decided that this year we will be grading homework and spelling tests to meet our quota for language arts and math facts tests, math homework, and math unit tests to meet our quota for math.  Science and social studies get a combined grade so we only need 9 grades for each of them.  We ended up using a lot of Scholastic News and the supplemental materials last year.  This year, I'm going to try harder to create formal assessments.  Even if they are only 5 questions, at least it will be something.

I did find this rubric that I really like for writing.  You can click on the picture to take you to the Google Doc.  I would give credit if I could, but there are only photos of it circulating on Pinterest.  None of them seem to take you to an actual blog or teacher's website.

Even this rubric is hard to use because we spend so much time editing our writing in first grade.  I used it once last year for a reading packet I made and it worked pretty well.  Even though all the kiddos had to do was copy exactly what I had on the board, it was still very clear who could do the listed tasks and who could not.  I like this rubric because I think it's pretty straight forward for parents.  Oh, be careful when you are grading because you will notice that there are 3 extra points built into the grade. (9 categories x 3 points each = 27 points, but the total at the top is 30.)

Oh back to report cards...we then had to go through every single Oklahoma standard and give the kiddo a number rating (1 - mastered, 2 - developing, 3 - needs improvement.)  Needless to say most of the teachers filled in "2" for almost every category, because very few students had mastered anything.  The only "good" part was that there wasn't a parent who could comprehend the mile long report card that printed out so no one ever questioned their grades.

Now flashforward to this year and we were informed that our report cards would be changing.  There will be less categories (thank heavens), but they will not align with Common Core!!!!  Ugh!  Are you kidding me?  Why can't we just use the CC standards?  There are half as many of them as there were Oklahoma standards and if we have to use them...let us really use them.

What are your thoughts on grading?  What does your district do?

Smart Board Concept of Number or Addition

10 Smart Board Files for Concept of Number or Addition!  Great for math centers or workstations.  Aligned with Common Core and easily differentiated.

These are the actual Smart Notebook files so you can edit them!

There are eleven pages for each file.  I require my students to show me 10 different ways to make the number that they are working on.  (i.e. 10 different ways to make 5)

Another way that you could use these files would be to have a child show you a way to make each number listed at the top (5-15).  This is why there are eleven pages.

Open the file that you would like to use.
Slide the box to highlight the number that you would like to work on.
Grab the shape that you would like to add to the scene.

Themes Include:

Christmas – scatter presents around the tree.

Easter – scatter Easter Eggs around the bunny.

Food – create a meal on the plate.

Halloween – add spiders to the spider web.

Ice Cream – build ice cream cones.

Pond – add frogs or ducks to the pond.

St. Patrick’s Day – scatter shamrocks or pots of gold around the teddy bear.

Summer – scatter buckets, shovels, beach balls, or crabs on the beach.

Valentine’s Day – scatter hearts around the teddy bear.

Winter – scatter mittens, hats, or cups of hot chocolate around the snowman.

Friday, July 13, 2012


I just found out that not everyone knows what Smencils are!  The kids go crazy for them!  They are scented pencils made from recycle newspaper.  The individual case is biodegradable and the plastic tub is recyclable.   Yes, they are pricey but you can do a school fundraiser.  Most parents are willing to give Johnnie a $1 or $2 without too much of a fight.  My co-op used to give them out for birthdays as well.  Michaels sells them, but check around, you might be able to find them cheaper. Click on the picture and check out their website.

Lunch Date and Shopping!!

My teammates and I finally got to have a lunch date and shopping!  We hit up Target, Dollar Tree, and Michaels!  We found lots of nice little baskets at Dollar Tree along with kitchen timers.

At Michaels we found tons of $1 deals!  They had clearance aisles all over the store.  Some things to watch for are pencil top erasers - $1 for a pack of 40! Dollar Tree also had the same deal going on.  So don't bother getting them anywhere else.  Target wanted $0.99 for 15.  Michaels also had magnetic letters or numbers for $1 in these cute little clear zipper bags.  They are nearly impossible to find around here right now.  Michaels also had the little pencil grippers...you know the triangle shaped things that help the kiddos hold their pencil properly...$1.99 for a whole pack, 6-8 maybe?  Sorry I'm too lazy to go look in the guest room.  And did you know that if you show your ID at Michaels teachers can get $15% off?  Of course the girl didn't bother to tell me or one of my teammates that so only the other teammate got the benefit.  Oh well.  If you are doing the jungle/safari theme Michaels is definitely the place to go.  They had everything including gerber daisies with wild animal prints on them (yikes!).  They also had popsicle sticks with animal prints on them, they were pricey, but adorable.  Oh and our exciting find were these little containers at Michaels (only in the clearance aisle) that look exactly like the mini M&M containers.  We racked our brains trying to figure out what we could use them for because they were only $1 or $2 and I finally decided that I was going to use them to hold the coins in my math toolkits.  I tried finding a picture online, but they are already off of their website.

The only thing I got at Target was a little upright vacuum.  It's the one that turns into a dust buster too.  They are on sale this week for $17.99.  I love our custodians, honest.  But our school is three stories and frankly it's just too big for 2 people to clean every night.  Vacuuming only happens once a week if we are lucky and even then...After last year I'm ready to go into the bathrooms and mop them myself.

I came home and found out the hubster had to buy 2 new tires for one of the vehicles today...oops!  Thank heavens for $1 deals! ;-)


I did it!  I have a "Grab My Button"!  But, it's clearly too big.  What number do I need to change? Here is the code:

<div align="center" style="padding: 5px;"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uUnMoeA7zQE/UAAuKLm8_JI/AAAAAAAAAFk/AM5F0UpYcks/s1600/Blog+Button.JPG"  title="Who's on first?" alt="who's On First?" /></div><textarea style="background:#f0f0f0;border:solid 1px #cccccc; color: #777777; font-size:100%; height: 50px; margin:auto; text-align: left; padding: 2px 0 2px 5px; display: block;  width: 90%;">&lt;div align="center">&lt;a href="http://who-is-on-first.blogspot.com" title="Who's On First?" target="_blank"&gt;&lt;img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uUnMoeA7zQE/UAAuKLm8_JI/AAAAAAAAAFk/AM5F0UpYcks/s1600/Blog+Button.JPG" style="border:none;" /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/div></textarea>

Name It! and Everyday Math Review

Name It!
Last night I finished this word work/vocabulary game.  There are 28 different categories or topics and students are asked to come up with a word for each letter of the alphabet.  Introduce a timer and it becomes a fast paced game.  This is perfect for your writing or word work center and is fun for all ages!

 Everyday Math Unit Test Review Games
This morning I uploaded my Everyday Math Jeopardy Games.  There is one for each first grade unit and all of the topics on the test are covered in this interactive game.  Editable!

Symmetry Monsters

Symmetry Monsters

These were made for our unit on symmetry.  I folded a piece of card stock in half and cut out a random blob.  We then took popsicle sticks, dipped them in the paint, and then tapped them on one side of our "monster".  (Do not cross the center line that you created when you folded it to cut it out) The more you tap, the bigger your paint blog becomes.  We then folded the monster in half again and rubbed like crazy to help the paint spread out.  Once they were dry I cut out some "circles" and they drew black dots in them to make them look like eyes.  

I stepped out of my comfort zone big time for this activity...I don't do paint!  Liquid glue is typically beyond my comfort zone so paint is definitely out of the question.  But they were fun and turned out adorable.

Sorry the pics are crappy, but these were taken with my old phone.  And for you OCD friends out there, I know the "R" in "Symmetry Monsters" is not technically symmetrical, but the back of these letters are white so I couldn't flip it over otherwise the colors wouldn't match.  Trust me, I thought long and hard about how to make the "R" work, but my OCD had to be suppressed for this one.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Grab My Button - Help!

I have been trying to make a "Grab My Button" gadget, but I'm stuck.  Do I have to have a flickr account in order to get the picture url?  I uploaded the picture to my blog, but that url doesnt seem to be working.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Common Core

This is sort of a rant...why is everyone so obsessed with Common Core?  Yes, I know the standards are "new." But, for 99.9% of the teaching population who has been doing their job, they aren't new at all.  It's the same thing you've been doing all along, just worded differently.  Honestly, I think they are pretty straight forward.

No, they are not perfect. Yes, I believe there are holes, like not having any standards about money in first grade and yet they need to be doing multiplication by the end of second grade.  Do "they" truly think that we are not going to tell our kids that 2:25 exists on the clock? Honestly though, it's a start.  We had to start somewhere.

It just boggles my mind.  Blogs created specifically for the common core, workshops for creating common core based lessons, etc.  Common core isn't a new way of teaching.  The standards are there as a tool, the way you teach it is up to you.

My recommendation is to sit down and really read the standards.  Start with the grade below yours and read all the way up through the grade above yours.  Read straight across the page, not one grade and then another.  Look at how they transition from grade to grade and progressively get more in depth.  The more you read them the more comfortable you will become.  Don't scrap your lessons and start over.  Look at your lessons and find the standards that go with them.  I guarantee you, you will cover more standards in your lessons that you think.  The majority of the speaking and listening section is covered everyday on your carpet, I guarantee it.  Honestly, I believe that's probably the average first grade teacher's strongest section of the standards.  We should strive to cover all of the other areas as thoroughly as we typically cover that one.

I believe it's the concept of "change" that has everyone freaked out more than the actual standards.

Ok, my rant is over.  I'm sorry, I'm normally the uptight one, but seeing everyone else stressing online is what is making me uptight right now. :-)


Here's my question...If a kiddo falls asleep in class do you let them sleep?

Last year, I let them sleep.  My philosophy is that they are 6 not 16 and if they are that tired, they need their sleep.  They aren't doing it to be disrespectful or because they are bored, they are doing it because they are exhausted.  (Most of the time it was because they spent the night/weekend at daddy's house and stayed up playing video games.)

But, what do you say when the principal walks in and sees Johnnie passed out on his desk?

Data Folders and Behavior Plan Freebie

Data Binder
This is just a picture of my data binder because it wouldn't apply to most people because of the sight word lists and Literacy First Skills.  However, I wanted to show you how simple it can be.  I (or possibly the students by the last half of the year) am going to color in their progress for each category.  The bold sections are the goals for first grade.  Sight words and math facts do not have a goal because the expectation is mastery.  I realize that the parents won't be able to tell what Literacy First skill 5 is, however they wouldn't know the difference between a digraph and a dipthong anyways, so why put extra words for confusion on there.  The majority of our parents are unsupportive and will probably end up throwing this away rather than returning it, so the less confusing the better.  (I am not exaggerating when I say I had an average of 5 students a week turn in homework last year.)

Behavior Log (*Freebie!)

Now this on is a freebie!  I realize everyone's classroom rules are different, however these rules are fairly generic and straight forward.  There are two behavior logs to a page.  The students will circle or color where their clothespin ended up (or card if you have a card system) and then circle the rule(s) that they broke.  At the end of the week mom or dad signs it and returns it.  My ultimate goal would be to keep track of all of this data so that when parent-teacher conferences roll around I can inform moms and dads that little Johnnie has left his seat without permission 20 of the last 25 days. That way they really get it.  This will also help me figure out the correlation for the little ones who spend the weekend at dad's house and have a horrible day on Monday.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Power Towers and Supply Storage

Power Towers - take disposable bathroom cups and write a math fact or sight word on the bottom.  If the kiddo can read the word or solve the problem they can keep the cup and begin building their tower.  I used the small Pringles cans and was going to cover them with card stock, until the hubster suggested Duct Tape!  It's not the best picture, but I already took the completed ones into school.

Supply Organization - Tool-turnabouts from Pampered Chef!  My mom was a PC consultant and we were able to get some through their outlet which made them affordable.  I have two for every table, one for me, and one for the writing center.  Instead of kitchen tools they hold, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, dry erase markers, and rulers.  (Markers, scissors, and glue are in baskets for supervised use.) They work great!  I have decided to turn their desks around so that they are inaccessible this year.  My first week last year, one of my teammates and I spent an entire evening cleaning out their desks and we found a dehydrated hot dog!!!!  I also managed to find dehydrated broccoli behind one of the bookshelves.  Ugh!  No more desks!  I will post pictures of the shelves and magazine holders that they will use for their materials as soon as I can get back into my room.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Xtra Math

Have you heard of Xtra Math?  If not, you MUST sign up!  It's completely free.  Enter all of your kiddos and print off the login cards and letter for parents.  Now your kiddos can login during centers, computer lab time, or at home and play fun math games.  The best part is that they keep track of which students are using it and what they are doing.  The activities progress in a certain order getting harder once mastery is achieved. (Differentiation!)  And the kiddos love the fun games and activities.  I am planning on having my kiddos use this once a week during computer lab to give them that extra push that they need.

Back To School Math Centers

Well, I have been on the computer for almost 12 hours straight, my hand is fried and my wrist is swollen from clicking away.  The good news is I have uploaded 18 Back To School Math Centers!  Check them out!  Let me know what you think.  I am looking for suggestions of new things to make.  What are there not many of?  What type of games/activites would you like to see?

On a side note, I would love to add pictures of my room, but I can't.  They are waxing our floors, with supposedly 10 layers of wax!  They are off limits for a while.  Luckily, I was able to go in last week and make several thousand copies for the year, so I have stapling to keep me busy.  As soon as I can get in my room though I will snap some photos.  They will only be cell phone photos though because I am trying to save up my TPT and Teacher's Notebook money for a fancy camera.  I love photography and steal borrow my mom's camera whenever I can.  It's time for one of my own though. :-)

More TPT Goodies

I have 19 Halloween Math Centers available.  The picture above is a preview.  $1 each or $15 for all 19 centers! (Over 130 Pages!)

Topics Include:
Place Value
Greater Than/Less Than
Ordinal Numbers

First Grade Common Core

Above you will see samples of my Common Core packet.  I have created editable checklists for your classroom, 16 different mini math assessments, and "We Can" signs for all of the Common Core standards. 60+ Pages - $5!

First Grade Homework

This idea was from The Lesson Plan Diva As you will see in her post, she was not able to post her document because her whole team created it.  I saw the picture and ran with it.  32 Weeks of homework.  One page of literacy homework and one page of math homework each week.  Simple, easy to follow format. 
65 Pages - $5!


It's pretty straight forward.  37 pages - $3

Bump or Roll and Cover

Some people know it as Bump others call it Roll and Cover.  Either way it's a very popular game.  I have made 3-5 games for the following times of year:  Winter, Summer, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Spring, Easter, and May.
4-6 Pages each - $1

Clip Art...How do they do it?

So I have to ask...anyone know how they make all of the adorable clip art?  I know some people have artistic genes and can sit down and draw just about anything, but...there is so much clip art out there!  And all of the digital scrapbook kits!  I have googled and googled this concept, and most of the sites tell you how to alter clip art that is already made, or take a photograph and turn it into clip art.  Just looking for your thoughts. I would love to be able to start creating some of my own clip art.

Adding TPT Items...Hopefully! ;-)

My mission for today is to figure out how to post my TPT things on the blog.  (And maybe a freebie too) Here goes nothing...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What would you like? What do you need?

Apparently one of the number one searches on TPT is Smartboard.  Would you like more Smartboard games, such as Bump, Top-It, etc?


My Plan of Attack: Writing

Writing:  (45 minutes) Just as I did with Reading, I am choosing to focus on topics.  I want mastery, not hit and miss learning.  The units will include:  The Writing Process, Narrative, How To..., Descriptive, Friendly Letter, Compare and Contrast, Report, and Persuasive.  Each unit will focus on shared writing and independent writing.  Kiddos will meet with me to conference about their individual writing piece and do kid writing while I am meeting with others.

My Plan of Attack: Math

Math:  (90 minutes) Yes, I said 90!  That's what our district expects, and that's what they are going to get!  Our district is in love with Scott Foresman, however the first grade team was not.  Before I got there, they saw that it was not working and asked the principal if they could try Everyday Math.  (My co-op for student teaching was an Everyday Math trainer and the district only used Everyday Math!)  Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I got the first grade job last year and found out they were using Everyday Math.  The teachers were gushing about how much the kiddos were learning!  Picking up that Everyday Math manual that first week was comforting.  It was one time throughout the day that I truly felt like I knew what I was doing.  

Now, here's where I am twisting it a little.  Guided math is becoming insanely popular!  I love the concept, but I had a hard time wrapping my brain around how to fit all of the components of in and still meet with guided math groups.  So here is my plan...Start the unit with a pre-test.  This is really the exact same test as the unit test, but the kiddos are 6 and cannot remember what they ate for breakfast, so I don't think it will be a problem.  I will take the pre-tests and gather information to form groups based on the data.  Everyday we will meet for roughly 30 minutes and do a whole group lesson.  This will focus on Part 1 of the lesson. (If you are familiar with Everyday Math, you know what I am talking about.)  Then for the next hour, I will meet with small groups, focusing on part 2 of the Math Lesson and whatever the pre-test tells me.  Math Boxes will be completed as morning work.  I will only be using this format Monday-Thursday.  Friday will be our catch-up day and Everyday Math game day.  If there is a fun math related craft for us to do, this is when we will complete it.  We will also play all of those wonderful Everyday Math games.  Some are better played whole group when it comes to first graders.  

While I'm meeting with groups:  At first, the rest of the kiddos will be working on concept of number activities.  (Google Math Their Way)  As the year progresses, they will move into my math binders.  I saw all of these wonderful teachers posting math tubs.  Again I ran into the problem of management.  I don't want to have to trade out math centers every week or create three different versions of the same math center.  I live almost an hour away from school, I don't want to be there all night.  Please forgive me.  So here was my solution:  Math Binders!!!  I created two sections in the binder.  All pages are in page protectors making them dry erase!  All binders are labeled with student numbers.  The first section has concept of number and math fact activities.  (I highly recommend visiting www.theschoolbell.com to grab some.)  The kiddos will gradually work through pages based on the concept of number/math facts that they need to work on. (Differentiation - Check!)  The second section is games.  These are all different games that I came across while blog hopping and snooping on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I also created my own games which you can find in my TPT store.  The kiddos will simply grab their math tool kits (thank you Everyday Math) and find a comfy spot around the room.  Of course, I will model each page before allowing the kiddos to try them out.  (I am thinking about a post-it note system, green means you can try it, pink means you cannot.)  

You cannot imagine how much thought I put into this plan for math.  It's the only one that met my needs as well as my students' needs.

My Plan of Attack: Guided Reading

Quick Side Note:  Our district follows an assessment program called Literacy First.  I feel like I just committed a crime by typing their name.  Apparently, it's quite a popular program and yet, no one talks about it!  I'm serious...Google it if you don't believe me.  You won't find much of anything.  Even their company website, doesn't tell you much.  The bottom line is that there are four categories of skills that you test:  Phonemic/Phonological Awareness, Phonics, Comprehension, and Fluency.  There is a continuum of skills that are assessed from Pre-K on.  Basically, you focus on the skill that they are on until they master it before moving on.  Some teachers decided that they would only focus on the skills during guided reading rather than putting real books in the kiddos' hands.

Guided Reading:  (60 minutes) That approach that I just mentioned above, didn't work for me.  I want to see my kiddos with books in their hands everyday!  I want to know without a doubt, who can read, and and who can't.  Why would I focus on each category separately, when I can put a book in their hand and focus on all of them?  I am choosing to guided reading groups four days a week.  Friday is going to be a catch up and assessment day for Literacy First.  Oh and since I'm not technically following Reading Street, I found a conversion chart for the Fountas and Pinnell levels.  I spent several hours sorting and labeling the books.  I also took the time to create a lesson plan for every book!

My Plan of Attack: Sight Words

Sight Words:  Literacy First has their own list of sight words.  There are three lists actually.  List A and B have 100 words each and List C has 200 words (technically a 2nd grade skill).  They are also part of the continuum and technically cannot move onto one list before they complete the previous list and skills.  Well sending home 100 sight words at a time is a little overwhelming.  I took List A and List B and broke them down into lists of 10 words.  I numbered them accordingly (A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, etc.).  I then created eight different activities for them to do and put them in a packet.

Activities Include:
Pencil, Crayon, Marker
Read, Trace, Write, Color
Sight Word Graphing
Roll, Read, Write
Word Search
Word Shapes
ABC Order & Fancy Handwriting
Unifix Cubes - The build words with Unifix Cubes and record how many cubes it took. (Almost like Legos for those hands-on boys!)

The kiddos will be assessed at the beginning of the year to see where they fall on the continuum.  I will give them the corresponding packet.  They will be required to finish two pages a day before they may choose a center.  Once they have completed the packet they will be able to be tested on those ten words.  If they pass, they move onto the next ten words and get to put a sticker on our class chart to show their progress. (Common Core Data Tracking) If they don't, they will get the same packet again.  Oh and I also printed the lists on 4"x6" index cards and placed them in the cheap photo albums from the dollar store.  Each kiddo will have one to bring back and forth to school to study from.  They will also have a data sheet to take home. (I haven't decided how often...maybe once a month?  That will be in another post.

Before you shun me for giving my students a "packet"...think about it.  They would do these activities at my word work station anyways, so why should I have to change papers at my station every week?  Why should I have to come up with three different activities for my word work station every week to target differentiation?  These packets are differentiation at it's best. And they are not just "worksheets" either.  Think about the manipulatives they are using...dice, crayons, pencils, markers, and Unifix Cubes.  I am targeting the hands-on learners along with the artistic learners.  We will see how it works, but I honestly suggest giving it a try.  Take your word lists and your activities and bundle them.  Work smarter not harder!  

Oh, and we had a wonderful volunteer stand at our photo copier for a week making the copies for all three first grade rooms.  I took an extra set of mailboxes that the teacher next door was getting rid of and labeled them for each list.

***Power Towers and Buzz!*** - I created Power Towers for the sight words.  I'm sure you have heard of the internet sensation.  Write words or math facts on disposable cups and the kids read them or solve the math fact.  If they are successful they start building a tower with their cups.  Buzz!  Has a variety of names. Just write sight words or math facts on popsicle sticks and add a stick that says Buzz!  Kiddos pull sticks, read the word or solve the problem and keep the stick if they are successful.  If they draw the Buzz! stick they have to put all of their sticks back.

My Plan of Attack: Word Work

Quick Side Note:  Our district follows an assessment program called Literacy First.  I feel like I just committed a crime by typing their name.  Apparently, it's quite a popular program and yet, no one talks about it!  I'm serious...Google it if you don't believe me.  You won't find much of anything.  Even their company website, doesn't tell you much.  The bottom line is that there are four categories of skills that you test:  Phonemic/Phonological Awareness, Phonics, Comprehension, and Fluency.  There is a continuum of skills that are assessed from Pre-K on.  Basically, you focus on the skill that they are on until they master it before moving on.  Some teachers decided that they would only focus on the skills during guided reading rather than putting real books in the kiddos' hands.

Word Work:  (20 minutes) Again, the "amazing words," "sight words," "vocabulary words," "spelling words," and "word work" from Reading Street were just too much.  I was running out of room on the board to list all of these words.  The words were out of control.  Another aspect of Literacy First is the Words Their Way program. Teachers receive a Words Their Way Manual and can use it help move their kiddos along the continuum.  I was fortunate enough to use the Words Their Way Workbooks in Pennsylvania.  And let me tell you, they are amazing!  For the first time kiddos can learn how to spell.  Not just memorize a word and forget it the minute the test is over.  There are 4 levels that move through the different levels of spellers according to Words Their Way.  We do not have the whole kit, just a few copies of the workbooks that were confiscated when another building was shut down.  So I sat down and aligned the various sorts in the workbooks with the Literacy First skills.  I plan on having 4 guided spelling groups each week.  They will stay on that skill until they are ready to move onto the next skill with Literacy First.  I feel that this tackles a multitude of problems at once.  Why should spelling and reading be two separate ideas?  They need to be joined at the hip, in my opinion.

Mondays - cut and sort
Tuesdays - sort and glue
Wednesdays - Making Words - use letter tiles to spell various small words and then form one big word with those same tiles.
Thursdays - Pattern Hunt - look for words in books that follow the pattern that you are working on.
Friday - Spelling Test - I am going to pull one group back at a time and give them their spelling test to eliminate some of the confusion of having four different spelling tests.  The other kiddos will start working on centers and come to my table when their group is called.

My Plan of Attack: Reading

Reading:  (25-30 minutes) The district endorses Scott Foresman's Reading Street.  After getting to use it for a few months last  year, I was not impressed.  There were a multitude of reasons, but the bottom line is that I'm not a fan of basals.  I want real-life books in my kiddos hands.  Whole group reading, in my opinion, is the time to teach kiddos the strategies and concepts, not a time to teach everyone to read the same story.  That's memorization in my opinion, not reading.  Anywho, I chose to take a more direct approach and teach each concept for 4-5 weeks. Our units will include: Reading Strategies, Literary Elements, Main Idea and Details, Sequencing, Compare and Contrast, Cause and Effect, and Text Features.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

First Year Teacher...Technically

So...I did it!  I created my first blog!  Now what?!  Does anyone really want to hear every random thought that goes through my head?

Well I guess I will start with the basics...Technically this is going to be my first year teaching.  Technically?  You ask.  Well, I graduated college in Pennsylvania in December of 2008 and substitute taught until August of 2009.  At that point I became an Emotional Support Aide for our district.  I helped students transition into and out of the emotional support classroom.  This meant that for the next year I was in  3 different schools and a total of 5 different classrooms.  At the time, I was not thrilled.  For the last half of the year my day was split between two buildings.  Then I realized how much I was learning.  Here I was, a certified teacher, getting to "snoop" in 5 different teachers' classrooms.  I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I saw what worked and what didn't.  It was priceless!

During all of this madness, the hubster got a new job, half way across the country...in Oklahoma!  Once the school year ended I joined him in this new chapter of our lives...in the middle of no where.  He is a chef and culinary arts instructor.  I was fortunate enough to receive a job at the same university as my husband.  I was a faculty tutor for our local college.  This meant that I got to see the end result of all of our elementary teachers hard work.  I can't even tell you how scary it was.  College students who couldn't make change...college students who couldn't tell you the cost if they bought 2 sandwiches for $2 each...college students who could not form a sentence...and worst of all college students who wanted you to do the work for them.  A year later budget cuts took place and my position was cut.  

The great job search began.  I ended up at a very scary "private school".  That did not have curriculum, pencils, or paper despite telling me how "technologically advanced" they were during the interview process.  Needless to say I lasted 6 weeks.  The verbal abuse was too much to handle.  Four teachers, including myself, left within those 6 weeks due to the hostile working environment.

Luckily for me a local school district was hiring and I received two phone calls on the same day for first grade positions!  I could not believe my luck!  During my interview I had to ask the obvious question...why were they hiring with only 12 weeks left in the school year?  Well it turns out, a first grade teacher tragically passed away in a car accident just weeks before.  Talk about big shoes to fill.  Long story short, I got the job and began making the classroom my own while the district finished up my paperwork.  I spent almost a week there, hiding from the kiddos, and sneaking into the room to make changes while they were at lunch or specials.

Finally, a room that was all mine!  I was ecstatic!  Oh...and the best part...two of my teammates are amazing!  The best teammates I could ever ask for.  With somewhere around 60 years of experience between the two of them, I was set!

Two weeks later, tragedy strikes...teammate #3 chose to "seek other opportunities."  Which meant that my group of kiddos that had already suffered a tremendous loss, spent weeks with substitute teachers, and just got a new teacher, were in for another big change.  Six new kiddos were added to our class!  Six new kiddos who had already had a rough year.  The first week of math I had kiddos crying everyday and pounding on their desks.  They were frustrated because they were on their umpteenth teacher, frustrated because they wanted their old teacher back, frustrated because they didn't like their new classmates, frustrated because they were behind and the work was just too hard.

It was a rough few months to say the least, but we got through it.  And wouldn't you know they almost looked like second graders by the end of the year?

I will call that my trial run.  So now, in August I will begin my first official year as a teacher.  I have been feverishly planning all summer long and cannot wait to meet my new little ones.  Hmmm...little ones...they are going to be babies!  What am I going to do with them?  I forgot to mention that pre-student teaching and student teaching were both in second grade.  New little first graders are babies to me!  Do they know how to do anything?  Ugh...that is the scary part for me!  By January, I will love them, but these first few months, they are going to scare me!