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Friday, July 31, 2015

Five for Friday - Back to School Edition!

Does it feel like a Friday to you? It definitely doesn't feel like a Friday to me. Summer Fridays are just like any other day, as opposed to school-year Fridays which are the holy grail of all work days ;)

It looks like I'll be back to valuing my Fridays pretty soon! Tomorrow is already August 1st. We return for inservice on the 17th and our students report on the 18th. I am supposed to get my class list this upcoming Monday and I am itching in anticipation!

In the meantime, I've taken on a few little projects to help me get ready for the upcoming year. Check them out below in my Five for Friday post {hosted by Doodle Bugs Teaching}.

One thing I decided to do is update my classroom newsletter.  After reading a bunch of articles about reasons why parents might not be reading the classroom news, I opted for a bolder look that is broken down into more distinct sections. There is room for a brief teacher message at the top, followed by important dates, learning targets, and questions to ask students throughout the week to review content. At the very bottom I have my contact information listed. I love how it turned out and can't wait to use it!

Okay. I saw this shirt and I just couldn't resist. Pete the Cat fanatic for life.

This year I really want to implement math journals within my math workshop rotations. I love the idea of having smaller math journals because first graders definitely do not need an entire page per math prompt. I had heard that stores will cut notebooks in half for you but I guess I was always too nervous to ask (does cutting notebooks in half make me look like a crazy person?) I'm so glad I finally bit the bullet and went through with it! Each notebook was only 50 cents at Staples. Although the women at the copy center had never heard such a request before, they were super helpful and even packed my little notebooks into a cute little cardboard box for me.

After ordering a bunch of decor from School Girl Style, I realized I neglected to order turquoise borders that I wanted for my classroom.  Stubborn me did not want to pay almost ten dollars in shipping for a few feet of border, so I grabbed a random color from my local Staples and decided to attempt spray painting!

In the middle picture, you can see my man helping this first-timing spray painter get an even coat onto the borders :) I love the color - the pictures do not do it justice! The paint only cost me a bit over three dollars at the Home Depot and apparently works on a bunch of different materials and surfaces. 

Although my students' folders are all color-coded by subject, labeling them makes everything so much easier (and cuter!) I can't tell you how many times I had to remind certain students which color their writing folder was or which folder held their reader's workshop materials. Hopefully this solution will alleviate some of those issues! To save space, I printed two subjects on each label and plan on snipping them in half when the time comes. I'm now realizing I could have just purchased smaller label sizes...maybe next year!

What kinds of things are you doing to prepare for back-to-school?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Assess Me! {Week One}

Who said assessments can't be fun?! In the spirit of back-to-school, Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher is hosting some fun getting to know you activities for us teacher-bloggers.  Read on to get some brief facts about me and click on the image below to join us!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Child-Approved Learning Games

In my reader's workshop and math workshop, one of the rotations available to students is technology. During their technology center, students use either the computers or the tablets to play learning games. {The games in this posting are all computer-based}.

The following games are the ones I notice my students gravitating towards most often. Best of all, they are completely free!

Granny Prix: To a seven year old, there aren't too many things funnier than a granny wheelchair race. This game is available for both addition and subtraction. At the beginning of the game, students get to customize their granny.

Cone Crazy: Another game that has both an addition and subtraction version. Kids help the penguin scoop up some ice cream and end each level decorating their own ice cream treat.

Match Match: I think my students like this game for the bonus round (picture on the right). This game is played like concentration and has various levels of difficulty. The bonus round involves trying to clear as many little squares from the screen as possible within a time limit. 

Comparison Shootout: This becomes a class favorite after we learn about greater than and less than. It has three different levels (the highest level deals with comparing fractions) so it is truly great for students across grade levels!

Kitten Hop: Kittens. Sight words. Racing. What could be better? In this game, students can play against the computer or against other students. The computer calls out a word and students need to quickly identify the word to advance their kitten.

Jungle Jumble: This game is great for helping students with word families and chunking words. It also help students practice clicking and dragging with their mouse.

Super-Readers Challenge: A great game for early readers that has four different parts: alphabet, words, spelling, and reading. While this game is probably too easy for more proficient readers, it is fun and engaging for those still honing in on their basic reading skills.

What math/reading games do your students love to play?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Five for Friday! {July 17, 2015}

It's been too long since I've done a Five for Friday post! I think mainly due to the fact that I've been up to nothing interesting this summer besides grad school, struggling hard at the gym, and napping like it's my job ;)

Throughout it all, I still haven't really been able to turn my teacher-brain off. Today officially marks the "one-month until it's back-to-school" countdown. Summer flew by but I am so ready to get into my classroom and prepare for the upcoming year!

'Tis the season to spend all my money at Target! Wait, I think that's true all of the time. Regardless, everyone has been sharing their Target dollar spot hauls and I thought I'd post a picture of mine! Sorry that the lighting is so terrible. Here's a quick run-down:
  • On the left, I grabbed a bunch of sentence strips and some lined whiteboards. The whiteboards I got are fun because they look like a piece of paper ("portrait" style rather than "landscape") so I thought that would be fun for the kids!
  • The "creative me" books looked like so much fun for indoor recess and early finishers. Each page has a different activity that allows the kids to be creative. 
  • I got the glowstick bracelets as a back-to-school gift for my kids.
  • No trip to the dollar section is complete without some plastic storage (mini and larger chalkboard-colored bins).
  • LOVE the sum puzzle game! A total steal for $3.
  • Also can't go wrong with some chalkboard buntings, big dice, and owl accents.
  • I also found the cute birthday bag and told my mom I wish I had a use for it because it was so cute. Luckily my mom is also a teacher and apparently a genius because she recommended cutting it out and using it on my birthday board. Done and done!

FINALLY, a hopeful solution for all of my crayon-storage woes! And it only cost me a little over $10! I bought these guys at the dollar store and they fit a 24-pack of crayons so perfectly! No more tattered boxes, plastic baggies, or crayon hoarding!

Clearly I'm on a roll spending money lately. With my man moving in soon, we are in need of more storage space (sorry not sorry for hogging the entire walk-in closet and two dressers in my master bedroom...) Anyways, saw this at one of the consignment shops in town and fell in love. Even better - it was 20% off! We are going to pick it up in his truck tomorrow.

Speaking of my man, our mini-vacation to southern Illinois was absolutely perfect. For me, the highlight was definitely zip lining through the trees. We will definitely need to do it again someday!

I've heard a lot of great things about this book and I finally got my hands on my own copy. So far I am really enjoying it! Teaching writing is definitely my biggest challenge so I am excited to learn from this book and put those things into practice in the fall. Is anyone else reading it this summer?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Make Your Masterpiece!

Once again, a little late to the #tptsellerchallenge party, but I am so excited to share my latest product with you! It is the perfect companion to my Primary Performance Tasks {Operations & Algebraic Thinking} pack that I posted this past winter.


I thought that these tasks were the perfect way to promote higher-order thinking in my first grade classroom. Additionally, they are great for preparing students for those rigorous performance-based tasks that we are seeing on district/state assessments. I plan on using these both in small groups and as independent work during my math workshop block. The product comes with 15 different tasks for a low prince of $2.50 over at my TPT store :)

This then led to the bundle! In case you are interested in having tasks for both OA and NBT standards, this is the perfect resource for you.

I'd love it if you'd check out my performance tasks and let me know what you think! They were designed with first graders in mind but would also work well for beginning of the year second graders. Oh, and don't forget to click here to complete this week's teacher challenge!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

My 3-2-1 Teacher Bio

Although a little late to the party, I thought I'd link up with Primarily Speaking for the 3-2-1 teacher bio. I love getting to learn about the people I blog with!

Also, can I just say I am loving all of these summer link-ups? What a great motivation to keep on blogging :)

You best believe I expect great things from my first graders! And I am always truly amazed at how many of them rise to meet my high expectations. I love having a class that I am proud of and that is proud of themselves :)

Organize, reorganize, reorganize again. Just when I think I've got it all organized, my brain comes up with a "better" way to do things and I'm off again. I have always loved to organize and teaching is definitely a profession where I can put those skills to use!

As a teacher and as a teammate, you can always count on me to keep things real. I'm not going to sugar coat it, I'm not going to get overly dramatic, and I'm definitely not going to be anyone but my lovely teacher self. I get silly, I make mistakes, and I always tell the truth. I think it's one of the things my kids and my coworkers appreciate about me.

Whether it's clothes, shoes, books, teaching supplies...I love it all. You should see some of the carts I have saved up on some of my favorite websites!

I must have been hungry when I wrote this post...
Pizza, pasta, bread - you name it. I love it.

I actually have a legit bucket list. I think I made it towards the end of high school and revised it throughout college. There's about 50 things on it and I think I've crossed out about seven or so. One day I would love to learn how to fly an airplane - I think it would be so cool!

That's it for now!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Currently

Love me some Currently. Seriously. Amidst all that we have going on, it's nice to read up on what others are going through, thinking about, and hoping for! Join the fun over at Farley's blog.

Listening: My morning so far has been a nice balance of sweet silence and the sounds of my two cats tearing through my bedroom in some sort of crazed frenzy. C'est la vie.

Loving: Shawnee National Forest this weekend with my man. Relaxation, good food, horseback riding, zip lining, drinks, fishing, hiking, shopping, Eli Young Band...I am hoping it will be everything we want it to be!

Thinking: Seriously. A quick glimpse into my stream-of-consciousness: New classroom management ideas. Must reorganize all the things. Gotta get going on some TPT creating. I miss my mom. I could use another trip home. Wish I could teleport home. Too much time spent in car lately. Vacation is this weekend. Put "make a packing list" on my to-do list. Hope those avocados are ripe. I could eat everything in my apartment right now. Workout yesterday was awful. Gotta get back into the gym. Have a lot of professional reading I want to do right now...

Wanting: Guys. What is my deal, here? On the one hand, I'm lamenting that it's already July, but on the other I can't wait to rekindle my serious romance with the laminator and get back into the classroom so that I can redecorate.

Needing: Can't my brain be trained to handle just one thing at a time? The struggle is real. I should've said that I was an all-star anxious person. Real talk.

All-Star: I think one of the reasons I can't shut my brain off is because it is always trying to organize and plan. A necessary evil, I tell ya. Good thing I am also an all-star napper (when things get too crazy) and an all-star coffee drinker (to get me through those crazy days!)

Breathe in, breathe out. And a happy July to all :)