Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trims are over and I'm safe!

"Trims" is what happens between the 5th and 10th day of school...the district looks at the numbers and decides if each building has too many teachers or needs more.  Well, long story short, I was the last one hired, so there was a lot of nail biting going on for these last 7 days.  After a very intense emergency staff meeting, all is well and I still keep my kiddos!  Hopefully they hire some new teachers next year so I'm not on the chopping block again.  It's wishful thinking, I know.

Knock on wood, my kids are pretty good!  It's all relative, but I haven't had a chair thrown in my room or one hide under furniture (unlike last year).  So I'm really excited!  The majority of them are still scared of the clothespin chart (unlike last year).  It's so funny, because they do slip up, and I correct them, but then laugh at myself because last year I would have been thrilled for someone to "only" do what they just did.

I started reading groups today which was rather interesting.  I have one or two who refuse to even try to sound out words.  Any suggestions?  They know what the letters sound like, but there is no effort given to try sounding it out on their own.  They also don't even attempt to do our motions during our phonics program.  I'm thinking maybe a pack of Smarties might be in order tomorrow as an incentive for trying.  Sound out a word, get a Smartie. :-)

Then, I had one break down in tears when he saw the book because he "can't" read.  Really?  Because I did 7 days of assessments and they told me you can read so let's try anyways.  Sure enough he read two whole pages!

Today was the first day I started meeting with guided math groups as well and I'm loving it!  It felt so good to  meet with the kiddos that need the extra help and know that at least I was trying to help them succeed.  I had the rest of my kiddos work at our three sets of desks and rotate about every 15 minutes.  Two tables worked on concept of number and the other table played a game from our math binders.  I am slowly introducing a game at a time so that eventually we will have covered all of the games and they can take their binder and work around the room.  I feel bad that they are at their desks right now for this hour, but I let them sit or stand while they work and I am just not ready to have beads and pipe cleaners (for concept of number) scattered on my floor.  Eventually I will give up control, but that just seems like too much right now.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Survival of the Fittest!

Whew!  I survived the first week!  I have to say this is my least favorite week of teaching.  I hate teaching procedures and doing mushy gushy get to know you activities.  I realize it's important, but I want to teach the meat of it!  Thank heavens Monday we will begin our "real" units!

I ended up not getting a class list until the day school started and then three kiddos never showed up so I have 18!  That is so much nicer than the 25+ we were originally expecting based on last year's kindergartners!  Everyone kept saying how hectic the first day was.  I was convinced that it was only as hectic as you make it.  Sure enough I was right.  The first 15 minutes of hugs, kisses, and goodbye tears to mommies and daddies were the worst.  After that, I shut my door and conducted business as usual.  No chaos, no confusion, and no more tears.

I have to admit though, by Wednesday night I was beat!  I fell asleep before 8:00!  This 5:00a.m. wake up call is rough!

I have two stinkers and two who are oblivious.  Not too shabby.  They are quickly learning that I mean business and no monkey business will be tolerated.  The skill level of some of them is rather alarming, but we will work through it.  Some of them still need to recognize letters, realize they have sounds, and realize that there are lines on the paper for a reason.  :-)  "No, Johnnie, you can't write diagonally across the paper, nor can you write from right to left and use picture symbols."

Some funnies from the week:
*Me: "Tell me the sound that you hear at the beginning of the word 'pick'" Student:  "D*ck"
*Me reading a sentence for an assessment:  "Terry loves to play soccer."  Student:  "Oh, I have a Terry in my family, but he's in jail."

And now I hurry up and wait for magic day #10 when the district will decide how many teachers our building actually needs and if I am getting bumped to a new school or not.  Ugh!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Last Day of Summer Vacay, TPT Blues, and First Grade Fairytales Giveaway!

OMG Summer is over!!!!!!  I can't believe my alarm will be going off at 5a.m. tomorrow!  My plan for today is to get the house under control.  It needs to a good scrub, I have ironing to do, and about a million little things around the house that aren't in the right place.

Does anyone else do a final push to get their house in order before school starts?

Does anyone else get the post TPT sales blues?  This was my first sale and don't get me wrong I am happy with my sales, but I still didn't sell the products that I am most excited about.  For all of you expert sellers out there...what do you do when your cutest products don't sell?  Over the last few months, I tried selling my math centers separately for $!  I tried raising the price to $!  I tried combining them and selling them as a whole set for a deeply discounted!  I haven't sold any of them!  Any suggestions?

Ok, enough grumbling....on to the super exciting news!  Just in case you didn't get everything you wanted during the TPT sale, check out First Grade Fairytales!  She is having a $25 TPT gift card giveaway!  Hurry up and enter!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My First Donors Choose Project!

I am so excited!  I finally had the nerve to submit a project to Donors Choose!  For some reason it seemed very intimidating.  I created my account back in the spring, but never did anything with it.  It turns out the process is super easy.  The hardest part was deciding what I wanted.  I saw the word building puzzles at Lakeshore a few weeks ago when I went to OKC, but they were not on sale.  I had money on my PayPal account from Teachers' Notebook and thought I might scoop them up that way.  The only problem was that when I got home and tried to order them, I realized that Lakeshore doesn't accept PayPal.  I was bummed because I really wanted these puzzles and they were definitely not in the budget.  So tonight I went shopping and picked out all of the games and puzzles I wanted for my classroom as if money was not an issue.  I submitted my project and now it's time to hurry up and wait.  I am not planning on including a link to my project because I don't want you to think that I'm asking for donations.  I truly just wanted to share how excited I was to take the plunge. What other items have you asked for or are planning to ask for on Donors Choose?

Is anyone else as excited as I am for the TPT Back to School sale?!  This is my first sale so I am anxious to see how it goes.  Everyone swears July is their slowest month of the year so I can't wait to see how it takes off from here.

Back To School Sale Linky Party!

Blog Hoppin'
I am linking up with Blog Hoppin' for their Back To School Sale Linky Party.  Click on the link above to see dozens of other stores that are offering great deals!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Centers with a Freebie!

Everyone has their own management style for centers.   You have to figure out what works best for you and your kiddos.  A lot of people use pocket charts, but I do not have a lot of room to hang yet another chart.  I also don't want to have to switch cards around everyday so that everyone gets to go to a different center.  My co-op used a center map and I grew fond of this technique.  The kiddo follows the pictures in order going down each column depending on the day of the week.  I like my centers very orderly so we will all be cleaning up and moving at the same time.

Typically you would have a kiddo's name at the top.  I chose to come up with a numbering system instead.  This way when I have kiddos move or get a new student I don't have to print a new map.  The numbering system works like this:  The number represents what group they are in and the letter designates who it is.  I only wanted 5 kiddos in a group and I only wanted to see 5 groups in a day.  My maps are labeled 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 2A, 2B, 2C, etc.  If I need to switch two kiddos around in a group then I can have them switch maps.  I also made signs to label my centers in my room.  The pictures all match.  This also gives me options as to what to include in my centers.  Technology for instance, has both computers and Leap Frogs.  At the library center they can read a book or listen to a book.  At the beginning of the year, they will only have one choice, but I wanted to options later on.

You can click on the signs and get them as a freebie on TPT!  You can also click on my center maps and pick them up at TPT as well.  I would be more than happy to customize the center maps for you as well for no extra charge.  Just shoot me an email and let me know what you need.

Sample Center Sign:

Sample Center Map:
In this sample, this map is for someone in my first guided reading group which is why you see a table in the first box each day.  The last box is for seat work which is their sight word packet that I made.  I wanted to make sure they were practicing their sight words every day.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

ABC Matching and Back To School Sale!

I am holding a Back To School Sale August 12-13th!  This is my first sale, so hopefully it goes well.  I am offering 10% off in conjunction with TPT offering an addition 10% off.  Don't forget to use the promo code BTS12 to take advantage of both discounts!  Tell your friends!!!!

I have been locked to my computer for the last two days creating ABC Matching Games!  It doesn't seem like there are a lot of materials for Pre K and Kindergarten so I thought I would give it a try.  Each set of ABC cards can be used for matching upper lowercase letters.  I have included directions for three ways to play:
  *Pull and Say:  Place the cards in a container and students will pull a card out one at a time and identify the letter.  If they identify it correctly, they can keep the card.  If they don’t identify it correctly, they place it back in the container.  If a player draws the keyword card all of their cards must go back in the container.

*Memory:  Use the word cards to play memory. Simply eliminate the keyword cards.

*Old Maid:  Choose a set of upper and lowercase cards.  Pass out all of the cards.  On their turn, the player will turn to the person to their left and choose one of their cards.  If they have a match, they can put it down.  Play continues until someone runs out of cards.  At the end of the game, the person with the keyword card is the loser and the person with the most matches is the winner.

Click on the previews to head to my store.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Yippee!!! and Boo!

Sorry I haven't had any blog worthy moments lately.  I have been putting the finishing touches on my room and hopefully don't have to go back into school until next Wednesday when our in-service days start.  On an exciting note, we were told today that we will temporarily continue to have color ink available for printing!!!  This is huge!  I can finally start surfing TPT again for goodies!

On a bad note our district looks at numbers around the 10th day of school and can trim more positions.  I found out today that there are two grades that do not have enough kiddos to warrant the number of teachers they currently have.  Since I was the last one hired there is a chance that I will get trimmed and have to switch to another school that is in need of teachers.  Keep your fingers crossed that dozens of kiddos enroll by the time school starts on the 20th and no one has to get bumped!

For those of you that are just getting into your classrooms...I don't know how you do it!  I was there almost once a week this summer.  Good luck!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Short A Jumbo Pack

I have been kind of sad that no one has bought my Short A Jumbo Pack. I went onto TPT and tried to verify the price...that's when I realized that I never posted it in my store!  Duh!!!  Here it is:

Short A activities that are differentiated for CVC or digraphs/blends.  Perfect for small groups or centers.  Aligns with Common Core.

13 Activities Included!
* Word Sort: Sort the word cards by their word family
* Memory: Use the word cards to play memory
* ABC Order
* Bingo: perfect for small groups
* Short A Maze: Help the boy get to school by coloring in the short a words to find a path.
* Sketch It: Draw a picture to represent each short a word.
* Name It: Set a timer and see how many short a words the students can name.
*Read, Trace, Write, Color
* Pencil, Crayon, Marker
* Roll, Think, Write: students roll a dice and think of a word that is in that word family. Nonsense words may be necessary.
* Short A Data Collection: color a square on the graph for each word that is found that is part of the word family.
*Word Search
*Word Shape