Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Does the Elf Say?

Can anyone else believe that the holidays are sneaking up on us so fast? I certainly can't! I'm not totally ready - okay, not even close. The UPS guy is going to get to know us REALLY well during the coming days, since online ordering is my new BFF with two kids 3 and under.

Speaking of kids, we went to see Santa... And we got the classic one happy kid/one screaming kid picture. I love it. :)

Anyways, my kids have gone... well, how can we put it nicely? Umm, nuts. Ever since the calendar turned to December, they've been WAY more energetic than their usual selves. And this is with 19 boys and 7 girls, which is already a pretty energetic mix.

So, I've been looking for a quick, easy, and low-maintenance way to help encourage good behavior. I'm too cheap to spend $30 on an Elf on the Shelf, and couldn't find a knockoff, so I did what any thrifty teacher would do... Make a printable!

Each morning, my students walk in to find a couple of students with one of these notes, a York peppermint patty, and a bit of glitter on their tables. Uber low maintenance, quick, and the kids are loving it. Click the image above if you'd like to grab a free copy for yourself!

Off to grade some papers... Don't be jealous. :) Goodnight! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Free Perfect Attendance and Honor Roll Signs

Tomorrow I'll be seeing (hopefully all!) of my students and their families for conferences. We hang signs outside our door noting which students have earned honor roll (all As or Bs) and perfect attendance (100%... no tardies either!). I thought I'd post some editable signs I made for this year on TpT to share with all of you!

You can edit these PowerPoint files simply by inserting a text box over the slide and typing your students' names in the box. Easy peasy!

Just click either image above to go to the download.

Have a great Veteran's Day!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Five for Friday... A Day Late!

Well, I'm finally back with a post! I'm going to try to start posting more than once a month! :) Last week grades for first quarter were due, and that basically consumed my life... So now that that's over, there's a bit more time to take pictures, blog, and breathe.

I'm linking up with Five for Friday (a day late!) to share with you what we did this week!

1. We've been working hard in guided reading! We use the second half of our reader's notebooks to write about our reading during guided reading. With my below level students, we spend a LOT of time doing guided writing, where we work together to write a sentence or two about our text each time we meet. While I help model the writing, the students are sounding out and writing in their own notebooks. (Note: I have gotten VERY good at writing upside down!) I've also made little on-the-fly word family flip books with my students (within their notebooks), previewing a word they'll see a lot in the text. It's good reinforcement of a sight word, understanding how to use a chunk we know to figure out new words, and this is a quick tactile way for students to practice making words.

2. We've started learning about Pilgrims and Native Americans in social studies. I started the unit by providing students with photographs (from the Scholastic First Thanksgiving website) of a Pilgrim homesite and Wampanoag village (through their Virtual Field Trip resources) and artifacts from the Lakeshore Native American Resource Box. Students worked in groups to record their observations and inferences about what they saw. They didn't know we were going to be learning about Pilgrims and Native Americans before we did this, so I also had them guess what we'd be studying based on the photos and artifacts.

3. In reading, we focused a LOT on using schema when reading nonfiction books. I know a lot of people use a T-chart (What I Know/What I Learned) to track prior knowledge and new learning, but I really like using a web. It gives the opportunity for students to more easily notate corrected misconceptions (see the "have gills" part of the web in the upper right corner) and to add to schema by branching off of a part of the web (like the "have a blowhole on their back" portion on the left).

4. We are adding to our CRAFT menu with our new reading strategies! I used Ladybug's Teacher Files' CRAFT board as a modified version of the CAFE menu. I also reworded some of the strategies we've added to be more first grade friendly. (I wish my bulletin board was a bit wider... Those are too close together for my liking!)

5. I am FINALLY feeling better after a rough week with little to no voice. How cute is this letter from one of my sweeties?!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 14, 2013

FREE Halloween Gift Tags!

My daughter is now preschool-age, which means lots of fun parties at school... And bringing treats to school! I remember my mom always making these awesome treat bags to hand out on Halloween, and I'm determined to continue the tradition with my own kiddos!

I wanted to make a cute little gift tag for the treat bags (crayons, Goldfish, and bubbles) my kids will be passing to their classmates, so I whipped up a little something. I'm also printing copies for my gifts to my students (a $1 Scholastic book and some Play-Doh), and thought my fellow teachers might like to have a copy. So here you go!

It's nothing fancy, but it has adorable Creative Clips clip art, and how can you go wrong with that?!

Just click the image above to download for FREE!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Back with a Teaching Blog Round Up Post

Hey readers! I'm sorry to be so MIA lately. I told myself that I'd blog only if caught up on everything else, and... well... I'm behind in life, I think! :)

Anyways, I did stop by and post on Teaching Blog Round Up, all about my homework notebooks for this year (which are working GREAT)... Click below to check out my post!

Have a great night!

Friday, September 13, 2013

I'm BAAACCCKKKK! With a Little Five for Friday, Too!

Oh boy! I just looked at the date on my last post and cringed.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind! I thought I'd stop by and share some of the things we've been up to during the past three weeks of school! And I'm linking up with Five for Friday to do it! (I'm very exclamation point happy tonight... Probably because it's Friday!)

We have been launching the Daily 5 in our classroom! I've been using Daily 5 for several years now and I just LOVE it. My students have already been building stamina for Read to Self, Work on Writing, and Read to Someone. I wanted to recognize students who were making good choices in Read to Self, so I put their photos on one of our anchor charts!

Next week, I'll introduce our Word Work choices. I wanted to be able to easily rotate our materials in each bin out as my students move into more advanced materials. I used to have bins labeled with a photo of the game or puzzle. This year, I made numbered tags for each bin, and a poster with matching number tags. Each tag has a clear adhesive pocket next to it that holds a 4x6" photo. Those will house pictures of what's in each bin, and I figure they'll be uber-easy to change out as materials change!

(Love the FREE posters from A Year of Many Firsts!)

As part of our community building unit, we've done a lot of work with rules and how to deal with different types of scenarios. We made this chart (again, a big shout out to A Year of Many Firsts):

We also read Julia Cook's The Worst Day of My Life Ever and Tattle Tongue, as well as Have You Filled a Bucket Today? and The Recess Queen. We role-played scenarios and talked about how bucket fillers would handle the situations. We have award-winning actors on our hands! :)
My kiddos made mathematicians from Amy Lemons' "Let's Get Started" packet... Aren't they just too cute?!

This year, we really focused on launching the math workshop. We previously used Everyday Math but are now moving to a more workshop-based format aligned to the Common Core, and to get students to be more independent problem solvers and mathematicians, we worked on several skills, such as building stamina for math games, how to work as partners, and what mathematicians do when they're through solving a problem.

Well, I'm off to have a late dinner and head to bed... We're off to Disney on Ice in the morning! Good night!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dog Days of Summer Giveaway... And a Freebie!

Hey everyone!

I'm part of an awesome collaborative blog with some lovely teacher bloggers over at Teaching Blog Round Up, and we have an awesome giveaway for you all!

I've teamed up with these bloggers for an awesome Dog Days of Summer Giveaway!

The Dog Days of Summer Giveaway Grand Prize
Winners Choice from these TpT Stores
HoJo's Teaching Adventures, The Phonics Phenomenon, KFUNdamentals ($12 or less), JD's Rockin' Readers, Always and Adventure in Kindergarten, Little Miss Primary, Hopkins' Hoppin' Happenings ($12 or less), Primary Junction, The First Grade Scoop, Fun for First, Fun in K/1, Miss V's Busy Bees, You Might Be a First Grader...
Vocabulary Work for Literacy Centers from Primary Inspiration
Lemonade Stand Craftivity from Teaching in the Tongass
Backpack Bonanza from Fantastic First Grade Froggies 
All you need to do is enter by clicking the giveaway button above!

I also have a FREEBIE for you all!

I've created a cut coloring page for each grade kindergarten through fifth! I plan to have these at my students' desks for them to color as I deal with supplies, parent visitors, students moving into my class at the last minute... You know the drill! 

Here's a close-up of one of the pages:

This will be an easy activity for my firsties, and will also provide a little sample of their coloring for a portfolio or simply to take home that first day. You can get it by clicking the cover image above!

Stop on by Teaching Blog Round Up and TBA Freebie Friday for more FREE goodies!

Freebie Fridays

Monday, July 15, 2013

PHEW! Revised Kevin Henkes Writing Unit... Sale and Giveaway!

Well, I feel like I've slaved over this for FOREVER, but it is finally done!

I have majorly revamped this unit! I made each lesson a full page, with mini-lesson format (connect, teach, active engagement, link, share):

This will give new and experienced teachers alike a little guidance in how to teach using the workshop format, and how to teach this specific unit.

There's a unit overview to help you organize your planning. I typically teach one lesson a day, but you can always extend lessons as needed to meet your kiddos' needs.

I've included a mentor text list and sample anchor chart:

You'll get a student sample:

And rubrics (two versions, one with and one without CCSS, plus a celebration rubric):

And finally, you get some final draft paper for your kiddos' final pieces!

I've taught this self-created unit for several years now and it's one of my favorites!

In honor of finishing this unit, I'm putting my whole store on sale for 20% off for today and tomorrow only! Click the picture of the cover above to go to that item, or click HERE to go to my store!

And if you're still reading, and you're the first two to comment with your email address, I'll send you the unit FREE!

Have a great Monday!

Monday, July 1, 2013

FLASH FREEBIE!!! They're Here...Editable Behavior Clip Chart Calendars for 2013-2014!

One of the questions I get a LOT is if I can make editable versions of my behavior clip charts I had posted HERE and HERE. Well, I think I finally figured out how to do it, and VOILA! They are here!

I modified the calendars so there's lots of flexibility with how you use colors on your charts and what those colors stand for. You can:

1) Use seven colors (pink, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red) in that order, with your own description of each level (for example, I use "Role Model" to describe the pink level, which is the highest on my chart).

2) Use seven levels, with your own description of each level, on a black-and-white chart to save on ink costs (students simply color in the squares at the beginning of the month).

3) Add your own clip chart levels and color codes by inserting a table on top of the PowerPoint background. This allows you to use any colors, in any order, with any description of each level.

Additionally, I have left the "Behavior Codes" section blank for your own behavior descriptors, and I have left the parent note section at the bottom empty for you to add you own notes to parents (for example, if you request that parents sign the calendars nightly, you can add this note into the bottom of the calendar).

They're normally just $2.00 in my TpT store, but they are FREE until tomorrow night! Click the product cover above to download.

Have a great night!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Classroom Library Organization 101

Well, I feel like I finally have the chance to sit down and blog! My students had their last day of school last week, then last Friday and this Monday, we had some grade level meetings to plan for next year. My room now looks like this:

(Yes, those are rough drafts of anchor charts - the version I do in front of the kids before rewriting them neatly - covering my shelves on the right. Reduce, reuse, recycle, right? :))

As I was packing up, the one area of the room that I could honestly sit back and say, "I love how this part of my room is set up!" is my classroom library. It's kind of evolved through the years, and it's definitely in the most manageable version yet as it is right now.

When I first started teaching first grade, I used a labeling system much like Beth Newingham's, in which each book had a detailed label (return address size) on the upper left corner. (I tried to find a picture but couldn't!) It was a bit challenging for my firsties to get their books back in the right bins.

So, over the course of a summer, I brought library books home for a relabel (which, trust me, isn't too fun!).

I used Un-du to peel off the old labels (this actually works pretty darn well! It's like Goo Gone but it works on paper).
(You can get it at scrapbook stores or on Amazon.)

Then I decided on the colors I'd use to label each major section of my library. I decided on yellow for my fiction books that aren't in series, green for my fiction books that are within a series or author (Biscuit books, books by Kevin Henkes, etc.), and blue for nonfiction books. I also have a small number of chapter books, which I labeled with pink stickers, and a bin of books in Spanish (both fiction and nonfiction), which I labeled with orange.

These are my fiction books (with yellow stickers), plus my leveled books. (The awesome Kristen from Ladybug's Teacher Files has FREE printable leveled book bin labels for both books and book bins.)
Some of my series books (with green labels).
Some of my nonfiction books (with blue labels). After I took the picture I realized that Abraham Lincoln book was majorly crooked, and it's driving me nuts in this picture!
Each of my book bin labels (see this post to download them free) has the colored, numbered sticker on it. I figured out what each of my book bins would be, then sorted them into fiction, series/author, and nonfiction, then just went in order numerically. The one problem is that it would be hard to add a bin into fiction, say, since the next bin after the last fiction bin is a series bin. Does that make sense?

Now, here's the key... Label each and every book with the same color sticker and number you used on the bin. I repeat... Label each book! I have had many teachers ask me how I get the books returned to the right bin, and this is absolutely key. I train students at the beginning of the year to understand the library organization, and within a couple weeks, my first graders can do this easily. (I have a librarian each week as a class job who is in charge of returning books to the library bins.)

A close up of a very popular bin (Elephant and Piggie). Note the numbered sticker on the bin.

And note the matching sticker on the book!
While you can get those colored dot stickers at office supply stores, I liked that I could buy them in individual color sets through Demco, a library supply site. They have bunches of sizes and colors. I also buy the clear stickers that are a little bigger to cover the number stickers.

Organizing my library was a major investment of time (almost entirely because I changed systems partway through my teaching career... Had I started from the beginning with this system, it would have been easy peasy!), but TOTALLY worth it, as even my young first graders can easily navigate the library, find books they need, and return books independently.

Hope this helps some of you get your library set up - or revamped! - for a new school year!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Movin' on Over to Bloglovin'!

Well, I've finally emerged from the piles and piles of files, cumulative records, student work to return, awards for students... You get the picture! We just had our last day on Thursday, but then we had two more days of professional development. Today was the first day of summer for me!

So, I've known that Google Reader is disappearing for some time... So sad, right? Well, there's something to fill the void... Bloglovin'! I'm superduper new to this. But alas, Teaching in High Heels has a great, easy tutorial HERE. If you're ready to switch and want to keep following my blog, just click below!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, May 27, 2013

Next Year, I'm Definitely Going To...

Hello everyone! I'm back in action here. :) It's been just a tad bit cuh-RAZY at work, as you all well know. We aren't out until June 20, but with testing, assembly prep (my students are singing "Surfin' USA" and are cute as all get out, although I don't think I ever want to hear that song again after Wednesday afternoon), end of year filing, etc... It's all kinds of crazy.

But I was blog hoppin' a bit and found this great linky from Finding JOY in 6th Grade...

I just had to partake. :)

At the beginning of every quarter, I swear up and down that I'm not going to fall behind with grades, that I'm going to enter them in our electronic gradebook the day I give an assignment... Then life happens, and I have a pile of papers roughly the size of a phone book to grade! That's my life this week, anyways. I really MUST make sure I set aside time to grade each day... And I think part of that will mean spreading out the days I give assessments. Does anyone else give a million on Fridays? Anyways, something that I have found helpful when it comes to report card time is keeping track of the end-of-quarter grades so I can see at a glance how kids are doing from quarter to quarter. I know, there's probably some way to easily see that electronically, but I like to have a paper version in my gradebook that I can use to check very quickly. I made the form below (click it to download FREE) to help me track those end of term grades:

I find the process of forming guided reading and even writing groups to be a pretty easy thing, but for math, that's a whole new thing. We're moving away from Everyday Math next year and making teacher-written units, so perhaps it will be easier to group kids based on a particular skill. I need to make sure we have more of a mini-lesson/guided practice/independent practice and conferring set-up... and more math games, too.

Our school district is becoming pretty big on UBD, but I'm definitely guilty of not having a unit entirely finished before I start teaching it! My goal is to get it together and have those units totally done before I start teaching them... Printables, rubrics, and all.

Well, I'm off to grade and laminate some more before bed... Have a great week! :)

Classroom freebies
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