My First "Back to School" Purchases for My New First Graders!

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Welcome! I hope to use this blog to share some of the amazing things my class and school does to make learning fun! I have been teaching for 15 years already! I started teaching 3rd grade in a Parochial School, then I was hired to teach 1st grade for three years, was moved to 5th grade for 2 years, and then came back to 1st grade in the district where I attended school. I love that I'm able to give back the the school district that guided me to become the teacher I am today! I have a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, certified 1-8; a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction; and my Administrator License Pre-K-12.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Hey! What happened to the weekend?

So this past weekend was the first weekend in a very long time that I didn't have "anything" that I had to do and I was pretty excited to spend the day in my classroom for most of the day on Saturday where I had the copier all to myself...we had some copier malfunctions last week that put a lot of teachers into a bit of a I managed to get all of my handwriting, sight word, and color word papers copied for the next few weeks.  I spent Sunday working on my requirements for my internship....REALLY wish I could use some professional development to take a day and actually follow a principal or two.  My administrators are great at giving me little projects to do and inviting me to open houses etc., but I really feel that it would be beneficial to actually shadow them for a whole day.

Although I woke up this morning a little groggy and forced myself out of bed extra early so I would have time to fulfill my technical addictions (blog stalking, blogging, Pinterest, twitter), I am so excited for this week!

I am probably the last first grade teacher in my building to jump into the reading series.  Thankfully, my principal and district don't mandate when we start the reading series or even request that every teacher is on the same story every week of the year.  With that being said, I don't think there's anything wrong with those who are already chipping away at the reading series, I just think the series moves so fast from skill to skill without a real pause to truly check for understanding...and actually incorporate that "Love to Read" component.  I like to use this first month of school to really get to know my new first grade friends, build up their confidence, create our family atmosphere in our classroom, and hook them onto reading.  I've been flooding the children with a a lot of creative ideas and fun activities found out there in blog land and also immersing them in some amazing literature and it's obvious that it's paying off.  I really do have a great group of new friends!  We're choosing good fit books for our book boxes and are able to read to self for a total of 8 minutes, literacy workstations seem to be running smoothly, math workstations are a hit, and we're really becoming a family.

This week we're going to be doing several activities from Christie's "Wonderland Name Fun" at First Grade Fever and polishing up our Daily 5 components so that I can start to pull some small groups!  I've had the song, Catalina, Magdalena Hoopensteiner Wallendiner Hogan Logan Bogan Was Her Name in my head all weekend!  My kiddos are going to love these activities!

I also just found Jodi's great Teddy Bear Day idea over at Fun in First Grade!  With Johnny Appleseed all next week...and my feeling that I will probably start the reading series the first week of October, I'm going to save this idea for one of those short weeks when we need a little break from our daily routine...but it's oh so cute!  I may not be able to wait!

Hope everyone has a great Monday!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Just a few things from the week...

Hi Friends!
Well, I just finished going through my RSS feed of all of the blogs I stalk and WOW!  I've missed out on a lot of cool stuff!  The good news is that I'm all caught up and feeling pretty excited about the fun stuff I found!

FIRST...this is a biggie...
A great teacher over at Ginger Snaps shared that Scholastic is having a $1 sale on just about all of their teacher books!  AWESOME!  Since I've fallen in love with Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook, I've been purchasing a lot from those sights (seriously...I'd much rather spend my money on REAL hardworking and creative teachers who are selling their activities because they work in their classrooms rather than spend $15-$20 on each professional book sold at book and teacher stores)...BUT I couldn't pass up Scholastic's deal...especially when Ginger Snaps shared that if you enter the code 10thanks you get 10 FREE ebooks!  YIPPEE!  Needless to say, I spent $7 on 17 of Scholastic's eBooks!

Then, I found some cute Spelling Word Fun activities being sold by First Grade Fever on Teachers Pay Teachers.  You need to check them out because I'm thinking they'll spice up some of my word work stations once we get serious about spelling words.

Cara Carroll over at The First Grade Parade shared some exciting news about her brag tags from Image Stuff.  They now have Teacher Packs!  When I first read about how Cara uses her Brag Tags, I was like I am so doing this!  Now that they have Teacher Packs...I'm in!  $65 a piece feels a little steep for me personally right now but I have an amazing group of kiddos this year and I know I can make it work!  They'll love it!  And really...that's all that matters for me!  I can't wait to get my first set!

We celebrated Constitution Day yesterday...well not "we"...I was at a TEDx Conference at Bowling Green State University, so my sub celebrated with my kiddos...which I'll admit I was a little bummed I had to miss it.  I'm a pretty patriotic dad is a Veteran of the Vietnam War and patriotism in our family has always been a pretty big deal.  I get teary while watching Band of Brothers, interviews of our men and women serving overseas...especially when they talk about their families, and I'm pretty sappy when I watch those reunion know the ones where the mom and/or dad surprise their kids at school.  Anyway...we usually spend the day learning the preamble to our Constitution complete with hand motions.    I love this activity but because I had a substitute yesterday I didn't think it was fair to leave it for's one you kind of want to be familiar with before you teach it to the kiddos and I wanted to capture it on video.  I'll share it a little later...I left my file at school and am blogging from home.  So instead, the kiddos read "We the Kids", completed the Weekly Reader about School Rules and were given a coloring book that explained the Constitution.  I found the coloring book on edHelper a few years ago.

If you haven't heard of TED, you should really check it's amazing.  It's a website full of inspiring talks on just about everything.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend a TED or TEDx conference, I recommend it...but it's not the type of conference that you'll come away with a ton of ideas to use with your will make you think differently about certain things.  It's kind of like this...When I left, I wasn't like "OH!  I can't wait to do that activity with my kiddos!"  It was more like..."Could you imagine if our schools were able to think this way?"  It's a pretty overwhelming site if you're visiting it for the first time so here are two of my favorite talks...because they make me think differently about things!  :)
Sir Ken Robinson...Are Schools Killing Creativity?
Birke Baehr: What's Wrong with Our Food System

Okay...that's it for now!  I have a weekend with no "real" commitments...but oh so much to do!
Take care!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Feeling Out of the Loop!

So I need to get myself on a blogging schedule!  I really should be heading to school about now, but I got hooked on my RSS feed and am having a hard time pulling myself away!  I WANT to get to school...I have the best kiddos ever...but I also feel like I'm missing out on some amazing shares and I'm feeling out of the loop with my fellow bloggers!  I need a plan...which I'll think about at random moments throughout the day! :)

After completing our AIMS testing this week and just getting to know my firsties a bit better, I have some AWESOME readers already...which really excites me!  I love exposing little ones to great literature!  If you know of any of the newest, coolest literature, please share!

I have a few allergies in my classroom this year...whey and milk.  I've been combing through the snack and treat aisles looking for edibles that we can use to build patterns, graph, etc. but if you have a list stashed away and feel like sharing, I'd love to take a peek at it!

Sorry this post is so random.  I made it through the RSS feed for A Teeny Tiny Teacher who has been sharing tons of ideas and thoughts on recess, homework, and independent study projects as well as recaps on her favorite television shows which crack me up!

Okay...I MUST get moving!  More to share soon...I promise! :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

First Week...WHEW!

I have so neglected my little blog and all 49 of my amazing followers!

The first week of school was crazy busy, with a sprinkle of tears (I had two who were missing their mommies), a lost tooth, a little hair makeover with fuchsia play-doh as an accessory, a birthday that snuck up on me, extreme heat, scab picking (eww!  First teachable moment=NO PICKING...ANYTHING!), and lots of fun.  I have to say that this is the first time in a long time, that my back to school week was a real success.  I have a few chatters...but they're also making new I kind of tolerate the extra chattiness right now.  Everyone got home safe and sound every night which is a huge worry of mine at the beginning of the year and everyone came back with smiles the next day!  I am really blessed to have a great group of kiddos this year!

Our week wouldn't have been so much fun without the amazing creativity from bloggers like Abby Mullins @ The Inspired Apple, Deanna Jump @ Mrs. Jump's Class, Jennifer White @ First Grade Blue Skies and the hundreds of other bloggers I've been stalking all summer.  I love sharing ideas with other hardworking teachers...which brings me to this...I really think I do some cool things with my kiddos so I'm going to try my best to start sharing more with my fellow bloggers.

One of the things I have fallen in love with is Scholastic's Cut, Paste & Write ABC Activity Pages.
I love these activity pages because each letter has a short poem that matches each letter and picture, shape identification, following directions, and tracing and writing one letter at a time.  We always start at the carpet as a whole group to read/memorize the poem and talk about how the letter is formed.  I am working on slides for my Smart Board for this that I'll be willing to share.  They are a work in progress right now, so if you would like them, leave a comment below and I can email them to you as I get them finished.  I'll also post them on my blog once they are all finished.  Here are some samples of the actual page the children complete:

I would like to say that I'm pretty picky on handwriting but for the beginning of the year I think these practice pages are "just enough" for my little friends.  While they are working, I do look at their letter formation, but I'm also looking at whether or not they know their shapes and colors, I'm observing their cutting skills, I'm looking to see how they hold their pencil and if they can follow basic directions.

I spent my Sunday in my classroom getting all of my math and literacy workstations organized and I'm pretty excited to start using them this week.  We'll also be kicking off The Daily 5 with learning how to choose "Good Fit Books" and building stamina to "Read to Self".  I love that my kiddos are already ready to gain a little more independence in our classroom!

Hope everyone is transitioning back into their school routines!
Have a good week!