Image Map

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Peek at Week #4

We are slowly but surely progressing through the first weeks of first grade. Thankfully, mostly of my little ones have realized that school is here to stay - their game faces are on and they are ready to learn. Now if I could just get everyone on board with this learning thing we're trying to do, that would be fantastic!

Speaking of fantastic - it's Sunday and I'm sitting here in bed with my two kitties. No Sunday anxiety. Praise the heavens for the little gift known as Labor Day. It could not have come at a better time.

By the end of week three, we've built our writing stamina up to almost 20 minutes. I am seriously so, so impressed with these kids! Now if I could only have more time in the day to work on their handwriting (yikes). Our district does not explicitly teach it and I have some very interesting penmanship coming over from kindergarten.

Also on my to-dos for this week is to introduce the overall structure of our reader's workshop. My workshop spells out READ which stands for Read with Technology, Enjoy a Book, At Your Seat, and Discuss with Teacher. The technology component is new this year and I can't wait to see how it goes. I am also going to try out book baggies for each individual student where they can self-select 2-3 books to accompany 2-3 books I have selected for them at their just-right level.

I am most nervous about introducing the "At Your Seat" component. This includes everything from hands-on centers to fun printables that incorporate a variety of reading skills. It was very rough during the first few months of school last year - I have such a huge reserve of activities and the kiddos come in really lacking the independence needed to pick up an activity and tackle it without teacher guidance. 

Short /e/ makes its entrance this week. We will also spend time practicing the word work activities that I have already introduced to the students. This has worked out so much better than it did last year (hooray for little teacher victories!)

Next up for math is understanding subtraction. This was a tricky topic for some of my kiddos last year who still struggled with understanding addition. We are really going to dive into my Fun with Number Bonds pack to give my visual learners a chance to really see the part-part-whole relationship!

Last but not least, we will wrap up our living/nonliving unit of study. Students will get together in groups and create posters using images found in magazines. This activity was a huge hit last year and I am so excited to introduce it to my students this week!

Alrighty, you know the drill - head on over to Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten and share your week with us. Huge shout out to Deedee for keeping us all accountable :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Unexpected Responses

There's a reason why the old show Kids Say the Darndest Things existed. Kids truly do offer the most unexpected and oftentimes hilarious responses! There are a number of times when a rough day at work immediately became better after reading something one of my firsties came up with. For example, the last response below - most kids said something along the lines of "It was hot" or "They were happy". I think "Because they wanted to rock and roll" is a perfect response!

My question for you is: What is one of your most memorable unexpected responses? 

If you're interested in linking up for Wordless Wednesday, head on over to Christina's blog, Sugar and Spice! She has included guidelines for first timers like myself :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Parent Orientation Night

I feel bad for Mondays. People are always hatin' on and complaining about Mondays. And I get it - it's difficult to come off of the weekend. But for some reasons, I've never really been anti-Monday.

Tuesdays are a different story. I'm not sure what it is, but I am always beyond exhausted on Tuesdays. This Tuesday, in particular, was extra busy. After a long day at work, I had to run errands, get my books, purchase my parking pass, and pick my little munchkin up from the vet. I had class at 4:30 and then zipped on over to school for parent orientation.

Thankfully, I thought parent orientation went really well. I can be a bit nervous when meeting parents for the first time since I do not know what to expect and hope that they are going to support me as I work with their children. I was much more at ease this year than I was last year (second-year teacher win). I even put together a packet of information for my parents to make things easier.

The first thing parents saw upon opening their folders was a contact sheet. I wanted to make sure parents know that I believe strongly in the parent-teacher partnership and that they may contact me with any questions or concerns. I also included a list of fun sites students can visit at home to practice math/literacy skills.

I also wanted to include some ideas to incorporate math and literacy in the home. Primary Junction has a bunch of free handouts to choose from. I got the awesome reading handout from Valerie at All Students Can Shine. The last picture is a parent volunteer form - if anyone knows who to give credit to, please let me know!

Finally, I had to include some teacher-y cheesiness. I provided water bottles and a little treat for those who attended :)

Time to reward myself for a night well done with some Bachelor in Paradise! Talk about a guilty pleasure...

Monday, August 25, 2014

One Week Until Labor Day {Monday Made-It}

Four more days. Four. More. Days. Then we've got a glorious, much needed three day weekend. Can you tell I'm excited? I'm definitely excited.

Tara at 4th Grade Frolics has announced that this is the last of the weekly made-its. While I look forward to them every week, I am a bit relieved - I am so busy that I am running out of things to share each week! Hopefully I'll deliver more quality ideas once we are back on the once-per-month schedule :)

Today I got to try out one of my newest products - Cookie Addition! I was a bit nervous having the kids try it out today, since today was the very first time I explicitly taught them how to write addition number sentences. I was very happily surprised when I saw how well they picked up on this task! It is great for practicing addition and writing number sentences - my tactile learners liked that they could "tap" each chocolate chip with their pencil when seeing how many there were in all. And the best news? Cookie Addition is free at my TPT store!

These aren't new. Nor were they my original idea (however, the person who first thought of this deserves some sort of medal or something!) Love my weekly organization drawers. I am sad that some of the letters are starting to peel off (darn that Midwestern humidity). When I redo them, I'll probably type the labels onto the paper so I don't face this problem again. Regardless - Love. These. Drawers.

Okay, so I didn't create these. Credit goes to Reagan from Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits. But technically I did make them. With my glue stick. And a fancy piece of black construction paper. I even laminated them. Awful attempt at a made-it but hey, if you didn't know about Reagan's fantastically free workshop posters, you do now!

I promise to save up some better made-its for next time around!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Peek at Week #3

I can't believe it's already time to plan for another week! 

Last year, I felt that my early writing lesson plans were a hot mess. I've always loved to write but did not realize how challenging it can be when many first graders come in with very little writing knowledge. I made the mistake of trying to jump right into narratives before my kids were ready, so this year we are starting slow with Deanna and Deedee's Writing Through the Year Unit 1: My Pictures Tell a Story. So far so good - their units are fantastic for beginning writers!

Another new thing I am trying this year is slowly introducing my word work activities one day at a time. I'm hoping this will help more kids become independent quicker since they are explicitly taught each activity and are not presented with too many choices off the bat. View my word work activities bundle here.

On a final note, both my Commutative Concentration and Cookie Addition products are offered for free at my TPT store! 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

You Might Be a Teacher If...

As a teacher, there are just some things that only fellow teachers will understand. I'm talking about those crazy moments when you cut off part of your shirt in the paper cutter and think Only a teacher would be able to relate to my current misfortune. Okay, maybe the paper cutter was just me...but I know everyone has those "only a teacher" moments.

For example...
Who needs room for "personal touches" around the apartment? 
I am convinced that a lot of teachers have some of the worst eating habits ever, seeing as we are always on-the-go at work and exhausted when we come home! I don't even want to know how long it's been since I've been grocery shopping. Apparently the bologna, beer, and apples are good enough for now.
Sometimes you've gotta make yourself laugh while going through those monotonous tasks, ya know?
Hello, world!

Have a teacher-y moment to share with us? Link up with Christina! I'm sure we could all use someone to relate to right now as we stress over the beginning of a new school year.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School 2014 - When Thursday

Last year was my first year teaching and I had so much freedom. It was almost overwhelming how much freedom I had when it came to when/how/what I taught. Key word: almost. This year, we moved to a master schedule that everyone has to follow in order to accommodate common intervention times.

Long story short - I got stuck with an awful schedule. The one everyone looked at and said "I hope I don't have that one". I had morning specials, which I was not used to. But even worse, I had reading and math back to back. Right after lunch. With less than two hours in the block. My immediate thought was How is that possible? My next thought was Seriously, HOW is that possible?

Thankfully my principal was super understanding and allowed me to shift some things around. The afternoon still feels a tad longer than I'm used to, but morning specials are growing on me :)

Here is a look inside the organized chaos of a first grade day!

Head on over to Blog Hoppin' and share your day with us!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School 2014 - Where Tuesday

I'm back again with Blog Hoppin' and their Back to School 2014 link-up! Since I already "revealed" a lot of my classroom in my post here, I thought I'd get a little creative with today's "where" theme.

Here is where I go to work! Good ol' Carl Sandburg. I promise it's much more exciting than it looks on the outside. Our district went to grade level centers a while back, so Sandburg is home to approximately 600 first through third graders. Yup - there's that many of them! I'm in a pretty small town, so this is one of only two schools who hosts the younger kiddos for the whole town.

I am posted up in the east-central Illinois town of Charleston. See that itty-bitty dot on the map? Yup - here we are! See the red square all the way at the top-right of the map? That's where my hometown is. Coming down here after graduation was definitely a big change, but it's growing on me :)

Charleston is home to Eastern Illinois University. It's not my alma mater yet, but will be once I finish up my Masters in Elementary Ed with my reading specialist endorsement. Yet another aspect of this town that has grown on me in the past year - it is awesome to see the pride this community has for its university - Go Panthers!

Fun fact - Charleston was home to the first ever Jimmy Johns! The original building isn't here anymore, but that still doesn't take away from our little claim-to-fame :)

Your turn to show us where YOU teach!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School 2014 - Who Monday

Although I participated in Stephanie's "Meet the Teacher" link-up last week, this Back to School shindig is way too fun to pass up! Plus, we all know teachers love talking about themselves ;) So here we go with 10 random facts about me (template courtesy of Amy Lemons). Head on over to Blog Hoppin' to join in the fun - I love reading about my fellow teacher bloggers! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Another Peek at my Week!

In order to help keep myself accountable, I've decided to link up with Deedee again to show you what I have planned for this upcoming week. Last week was a lot of readiness/routines, so I am ready to dive into some "real" teaching this week!

Be sure to link up with Deedee, too, so we can all see what wonderful things you have planned!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Five for...Saturday?

I've decided I love these blogger link-ups. You all are so creative and inspiring and funny and I love reading about your lives/teaching endeavors/pinning sprees/new products. But here I am, dropping the ball on Doodle Bugs's Five for Friday. Because if you haven't noticed, it's Saturday.

I got home from work yesterday and fell onto the couch with no intentions of ever getting up. Apparently I had forgotten how exhausting this first week of teaching is! I think I was ready to go to bed by 5:30 - no joke. I did end up leaving my apartment to have game night with a few of my friends from work around 7:00. Needless to say, a blog post was not in the cards yesterday.

So, here's my Five for Friday. On a Saturday. Enjoy!

I love First Day Jitters. We all love First Day Jitters. In addition to sharing this story on the first day of school, I decided to have us make our very first class book, too! If you are interested, here is the template I made. Enjoy!

By Friday, we definitely needed a break from the routines and rules and readiness assessments and routines and did I mention the routines? I decided to share one of my favorite books, David McKee's Elmer, with my firsties and had them complete an adorable craft and writing activity. For the elephants, I found a template online and copied it onto cardstock. The kids used cut up sponges to create Elmer's patchwork look and attached a googly eye. Click here for the writing paper I used.

I am attempting to remediate the constant "Where do I put this?" issue. Last year, students were constantly confused on whether or not something was ready to be turned in, if it needed to go in a folder, or if it was supposed to go in the basket. And on the occasional moment I had them put one single assignment in their mailboxes, they began putting everything in their mailboxes. It was a disaster. This year, I'm trying these little signs at the front of the room, which I attached with velcro. Let's see how it goes!

I thought this was too cute not to share. It is so, so nice to feel this appreciated at the beginning of the year :)

Lastly, I finally committed to some light-blocking curtains for my bedroom. I thought making a decision on which to get was the hard part - boy, was I in for a rude awakening when I attempted to install them. But ten gazillion mistakes and bad words later, here we are! Thankfully the tops of the curtains hide my awful handiwork with the power drill.