Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolutions 2013

Instead of doing one a day to catch up I figure I will just post the first two together, and tomorrow do the middle two!

1.  Technology---  Really this year I just want to take advantage of the technology available to me.  Gish just got me an iPad Mini for Christmas and I haven't a clue how to use it in my classroom.  It's all set to go in my new pink otterbox but I don't know how to make it available to my students, or even if I should.   Perhaps I should use it class to help me manage the classroom better, I heard the sisters have a Pensive App.  I also stopped taking as many pictures this year so I am going get back into the habit of snapping away with my camera and not always relying on my iPhone.  I two things I would love to learn is how to use Photoshop and how to make my own fonts.  So I'm going to add those to my list.  Lastly in terms of technology I'm going to find ways to use my Mimio more.

2.  Organization--- Oh lord do I need help here!  I am so NOT an organized person!  Not because I don't want to be or because I don't see the value cause trust me I do.  It's more a case of I lack commitment.  I come up with a plan and with in a few weeks, okay sometimes while I coming up with said plan I start to think OOOOO maybe X will work better.  So I never come to decision on how to stay organized and stick with it.  Funny thing is all my students parents telling how organized I am.  I will say I can normally find what I'm looking for.  Other may think it's in a weird place but at some point it made sense to me and I remember where I left it.  (most of the time).  So this year I resolve to finish organizing my binders, STICK with a copy system, stick with a planning system and design an guided reading organization plan!

See you peeps tomorrow-- Oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR


Fitness Goals

Jumping in a little late in this blog hopper linky but I plan to catch up! Any who on to my fitness resolutions...
1. Restart couch to 5k program.  Last November, as in November 2011, I hurt my foot and my plantar fasciitis (misspelled I'm sure) and haven't been able to get back to running since.  This year I am determined to do whatever it takes to get back to running.  I have a great love of running.  Well actually I hate it while I'm doing it but nothing beats the feeling when I finish and the high I get when I realize I actually ran.  SO I need to get back on track.  Starting tomorrow and then making an appointment to meet my podiatrist so I can get proper orthodics (again).
2. Run 2 5ks once I finish the program I plan do a run and then sign up for another.  I figure I'll probably have to run/walk 2 and be able to run mid year?
3. Attempt to run a 10k if I can't run it, walk it.  Hope I can do this because I would love to one day train for the Disney Princess Half marathon and this would be a step in the right direction.
4.  Work on rebuilding my core.  Three c-sections have done quite a number on my abs, who am I kidding I have no abs, just jiggle.  So I'm going to work on abs and toning my arms too.

There my friends are my fitness goals!
Make sure to link up with Deedee Wills and share your fitness goals.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ch-cha-changes Part 1

We got a new administrator last March and though I am SO sad our previous principal retired, I can honestly say my new principal has caused me to rethink and change the way I put my literacy block together.  First was the light bulb moment that went off when she told me she was more interested in WHAT I TAUGHT then she was in WHAT I COVERED!  So often I put pressure on myself and my students to get through a years worth of material whether or not they mastered it and I was nervous if I wasn't moving on like the book said too.  This year I am happily focusing on taking the time to teach and getting to the next skill when we're ready.  We took the first six weeks of school to build D5 stamina, learn procedures and routines and review kindergarten material.  I truly feel it has made a huge difference and I know these kids so much better than I might have had I started Treasures the first week of school.  One of the things I am doing differently is giving spelling a pretest on Friday.  It allows me to look over what the kids already know and give them a differentiated list on Monday.  The pretest is always the 10 words Treasures recommends.  If a student knows all the words or only misses a sight word I will give them two additional words.  I look to see where they made their first two mistakes in the beginning of the year Words Their Way assessment and then try to merge that with the phonetic skill of the week.  So for last week I add the words dish, and ship to the list, giving these students 12 words.  If a student misses four words or less they will study the Treasures list.  For my students who miss more then 4 words I give them the 8 phonetic words and leave off the sight words.  I created the following forms to give the pretest and also to their spelling list home.

I fold these in half before passing them out to the kids and then once we take the test have them open them up to see how they did. 

Over the weekend I highlight the words the kids need to study and add words in the two blank spaces.  Once I get to school on Monday I just staple one half into their Word Work book and send the other half home.  On Fridays I use the spelling test papers from What The Teacher Wants.  This method has been working so well this year I couldn't be happier.  It makes me feel like I am really instructing all my kids not just the ones who don't know the 10 words Treasures recommends. 


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hellloooo Out There!

To say it's been awhile is an understatement!  What can I say, teaching, working at summer camp and my 3 kiddos have kept me uber busy!  Anywhoo, we've started a new school year here in MD and I have a new group of firsties to work with.  At the end of last  year I was really sad to let my kiddos go.  I seriously wanted to loop with them and even tossed the idea out to our new principal, but knew it wasn't going to happen.  Truthfully it's for the best since my AJ would have once again been in the same grade that I was teaching.  Having been with my new crew for almost 4 weeks now I can tell you I'm so glad I didn't!  Oh my goodness I love these kids already.  They have to be the most energetic, enthusiastic bunch ever!  They love any and everything we do.  They can be a little loud but we're working on it and they're learning.  21 sweeties who love to learn =  one happy teacher!

This year things have changed as far as our reading program and I couldn't be happier.  Our school is focusing on differentiated instruction and small groups which has really challenged me.  I did a lot more small group work last year so it's not a shock but there is a difference in being told to do something and doing cause you want to.  I am back to the D5 framework again this year and trying my best to not give up and do my own version before I give The Sisters recommendations a try.  At the beginning of this 4th week of school my students were reading 32 minutes during R2S.  Today and for the rest of the week we will be trying to do 20 minute rounds were they do either Word Work, R2S, or Work on Writing.  Since this is our trial week I am telling them were to go.  They did pretty good today.  As I have it laid out now I will be meeting with my groups M-Th, with Friday being a wrap-up day. I'm itching to get started and test out the D5 for real.  If any of you are still reading and you do D5 in your classroom along with a basal i.e. Treasures, how do you get your mini lessons in within 10 minutes?  That's my biggest fear for the coming week!

My hope is next week they can start choosing for themselves.  To avoid raising my voice and getting frustrated with my class I decided to takes things really S-L-O-W.  Over the summer my principal told my coworker and me that it was perfectly acceptable to take the whole month of September to introduce and practice routines.  She said it was ok if we didn't get into Treasures until October.  I decided to take her up on that offer and really focus on procedures during September.  It has gone really well.  I can tell the kids are ready for some responsibility and eager to start doing things for real.  Next week will be the test to see if giving them extra modeling/practice time benefited them.

I'll post pictures of my classroom in the next couple days.  I didn't think I changed much but all my students from last year seem to think I did.  I'm really happy with the way its coming along each year.  I have a few more changes to make but for the most part it feels more me then it ever has before!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Something old, something new, something borrowed, and a giveaway

I can't believe my break is pretty much over!  I had a great time milling around with my kiddos and spending time with my family.  Today my 3 are excited about eating lunch at McDonalds with my Grandpa. We never eat in McDonalds do you?  Regardless my terror squad will be making an appearance.

Anywho I am sitting here planning for next week and realized I have five more actual teaching weeks left!  EEEK!  Not sure how I will get everything I want done but the pressures on!  We actually have 7 weeks left but my school does an arts festival in May and that is 3 days gone and then the last week is half days so that's a wash too. So here is what I've come up with as my plan to finish the year...

Something Old:  Our story next week is The Kite (chapter from Days with Frog and Toad), we always use this as an intro to reading chapter books.  I will do this again this year but read the whole book as the first book club for my on level readers.
Something New:  I have never done book clubs before but have wanted and with my principals approval I am going for it!  I am going to use Jenn Bate's Save the Earth Packet  with my above level readers.  With my early on level readers I will read Mercer Mayer's It's Earth Day! and move into Days with Frog and Toad.
Something borrowed:  While looking through blog land for book club ideas I found this post from the fabulous Cara Carroll Brown Bag Book Club and am borrowing to use on Friday.  I may try and find a way to include our buddies on this but I don't know yet.

We will still read our HBR (hardback readers) and focus on problem and solution in all the stories we read.  I have two craftivities planned to use in reading this week.  We will also make a toad peak over to answer a problem and solution writing prompt.  To incorporate poetry they will use a kite template to write an acrostic poem.  In March my firsties had such fun coming up with  Limericks using Abby's unit I am sure they will love writing the acrostics.

The Giveaway:  If you read my blog you have realized I don't come up with much original stuff.  Honestly there is such great stuff out there and why not use other peoples stuff from TPT or blogs?  It leaves me with more time to spend with my own kids.   But I do want to thank everyone who has helped me by sharing their awesome ideas so I am going to give away a copy of this book:

AJ and I picked it up at BN last week and fell in love!  It is by the same author of Alexander and the Terrible No Good Very Bad Day  and the illustrations are hilarious.  I read a couple pages to AJ and then she took over.  It would be a great addition to any library and also a be a great chapter book read aloud.  Lulu is a not so nice girl who is convinced she wants a brontosaurus for her birthday and wont' take no for an answer.  I asked AJ what her favorite part of the book was and she said two things; that she could pick from 3 endings and that the author let her read a chapter from the next book in the series.

So if you'd like to enter here's how:

  1. follow my blog (leave a comment)
  2. blog about the giveaway (leave a comment with link)  
Since things get 12 kinds of crazy for me when school starts I will end this on Saturday at 10 pm and announce the winner on Sunday evening.  

Good Luck!  


Monday, April 9, 2012

Open Tag

Christina at Mrs. Bainbridge's Class issued an open tag that I am accepting so I can keep posting each day of spring break :) 

So... if you want to accept my tagging... please answer the following questions:

1.)  Do you scrapbook?  If so, what's your favorite tool?  If not... why?

       I use to before I had kids :-(  I no longer have time but more than anything my husband packed up all my supplies when we turned my scrapbooking room into #2's room.  

2.)  Favorite 80s TV show
      Hard one let's see, Punky Brewster, Small Wonder and Three's Company

3.)  Do you keep your toenails painted?
      Kinda in the summer yes, during the winter I keep the last polish I used on until it comes off all on its own the start again.  Weird I know.

4.)  What is your favorite bean?  (Mine is lima, in case you're curious!)
       Umm green beans

5.)  What was your favorite doll's name as a kid?  (Meggie Kay!  And I still have her!)
       I had Kirsten from AG and she was my fave, but I really wanted to have Molly.  

6.)  Coffee or tea?
       Iced coffee

7.)  Bath or shower?
      Shower, I think its weird to sit in your own filth in the tub.
8.)  What is your favorite item in your classroom?
       My smelly markers!
9.)  Funniest classroom moment summed up in 10 words or less...
     For family rule child wrote no semen drew x over mouth 

10.)  Either one name you'd NEVER name a child or one name you'd LOVE to name a child based on students you've had in your class... and you don't even have to tell us if it's a NEVER or a LOVE... just the name!  ;)

          Ellie (multiple students)

If you want to participate head over to Christina's blog :)


Sunday, April 8, 2012

April Currently


April Showers

How did you all decorate your doors this month?  My aid came up with this one and I love it!  I just told her I wanted rain boots and an umbrella.  It says Lovin' These April Showers.  She always executes my ideas so well.  I am very lucky to work with someone who is artistically gifted!  

Together we made this gumball machine to welcome a new principal to our school.  I was able to fit all the 2 first grades and their buddies in the machine.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Be Worthy

Each month a different teacher at my school is in charge of a hallway bulletin board. Each year I am the last to go in the lower school hallway.  Normally what I put up in April stays up till summer vacation but this year I have decided to do two. The last one I have had planned in my head for quite a while but April's was a bit harder for me to create. I normally do Easter but was debating about doing an Earth Day theme instead. In the end I decided to stick with Easter. I had planned to go with a cross in the middle and in mid March I found a technique that would allow me to use oil pastels and was sold.  I mean really who doesn't get excited to use oil pastels??  I still couldn't think of what else to do or if I should just leave the cross centered with nothing else. Thankfully I got an extra pushing seeing a blank board and after thinking it through and discussing my idea with my best friend Stacey I came up with this...
Some of my coworker friends helped me color and letter it all. One in particular did this awesome mosaic lettering...
My AJ giving final approval!

I love it and I love that 3 of my coworkers helped me pull my idea together and gave up planning periods and a Friday afternoon to get it finished


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Denver or Bust

I'm sure all of you have read Flat Stanley and some of you even do this in your class.  The first grade at my  school has been doing a variation for as long as I have been there.  The kids take there Flats on Easter  Break with them and use him as a way to share their adventures.  I also have my students pick a friend or family member to host their Flat for a few days.  In the past when a student didn't have someone to send it to I have called on my friend Jenn at The Suchniak Six to help a sister out.  Her kids have hosted for us before and with her son E in first grade this year we decided to have his class swap with mine.  My students could not have been more excited to get pen pals in Denver and trade Flats.  The teacher and I just matched up our students and had them write a letter to go with their Flat.  My students are traveling during break are excited to take the visiting flat with them and my students staying locally are excited to show the Denver kids our Nation's Capital.  I am using this as an opportunity to review writing personal letters and also a little about CO and Denver.  We are also making scrapbooks for our friends in Denver and might even include some Maryland goodies.  Stay tuned!
 My kiddos wrote letters and drew pictures for their new friends.
 I let the girls use the Flat Stella template because in the past girls have complained about "wearing" ties.
 Can I just say I love how the clothes never match :D
 Of course I am trading with Laurie as well and had to dress my flat in shorts and a pair of emerald green Toms I am hoping I get for my birthday :)

 And "we're" off!

 I wish you could have heard the hooting and hollering that came out of 1B when this package arrived!

One of my cuties with her visiting friend

Anyone interested in hosting our flats before school is over or next year???


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick's Day is huge at our school.  A lot of the families are Irish and really with Lucky and all how can you not do it up?  My firsties were so cute when they came in!  They didn't even let me take pictures of Lucky's ruckus they cleaned up so fast!  

We did a whole bunch of centers from Abby and Michelle's TPT St. Patrick's Day units.  I swear their stuff is always a hit in our room.  

For our buddy activity the kids did Lindsey's Worth More Than Gold prompt.  I love her stuff as well and she is so generous to share so many freebies!

The kids learned all about St. Patrick and wrote reports to go along with this little guy.  I found the original on Catholic Icing and then just created a free hand template.  I traced it on the paper but let my kids do all the cutting.  In their reports they had to include three facts, 1 legend and what they found most interesting.  We read a ton of St. Patrick books and I loved seeing what they wrote.  One cutie said St. Patrick rid Ireland of snacks, soooo cute!


Friday, March 2, 2012

Women's History

     To celebrate Women's History Month last year I came up with a project that gave my first graders a small introduction to important women.  The librarian at my school was very helpful and together we made it a across curricular unit.  Each class I gave the kids a brief intro on a different woman.  They filled out a Famous Women form I created and drew a picture of that woman.  I also had them do a small project or craft to go with each woman.   
     They learned about 8 different women and then had to pick one to write a short report on.  Our librarian helped them research their chosen woman a little more and pick the facts they found most important.  Once they had written their rough drafts and gone through the editing process they got the all clear to type it up on Pixie.  They then had to draw a picture to go with their writing.  We used Anmoto to turn all their slides into a video and presented it to the kindergarten.  Our art teacher helped them come up with a design to make a bottle person to match the woman they picked. 

You can see the video below. 

As I teach each woman this year I will post my plans and the activity we do, just in case anyone is interested.  


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Someone's having a birthday!

Can you guess who?!
WRONG, it's not Dr. Seuss it's Justin Bieber's birthday and I have the cupcake to prove it!

One my most loved students from a few years ago made JB these yummy cupcakes and I had to share a picture before getting on to the real birthday boy.  

We started our Dr. Seuss Celebration a day early with a Fab Friend who made One Fish, Two Fish jello to go along with the story.  She also brought in the Lorax hat craft for the kids to make.  They had a blast and I think they are prepared for all the Seusstastic activities I have planned for them in the next week.  

Tomorrow we are throwing America's favorite rhyming author a birthday party!  I have actually been planning this mini unit since July when I hit a Seuss gold mine at Target.  They had such great stuff I bought ton and trusted that pinterest and the teacher blogs I read would help me find good uses for them.  This is a picture of my door for the first half of March.  I saw a pin on Pinterest of The Cat in the Hat children in chairs and fell in love.  Next I had to find a way to use handprints, I try to do at least one hand print craft a month, and tie it to St. Patrick's Day somehow. 

I'll  leave you with a picture of my sweet  little lady rocking the Lorax hats we were making for daycare the next day.  According to Kohen they were a big hit and a lot of fun to make.  Stay tuned for what else Seuss stuff we get into!  I promise the units I got from TPT and will not disappoint! 


Sunday, February 5, 2012

February Fun

Does anyone else think February is too short for all the stuff we need to cover in 1st grade?!  I mean really Ground Hog Day, 100th Day, Valentine's Day, Presidents Day and Black History Month?!?!?  In 29 days?  Of which we are really only in school maybe 20?  We have a 4 day weekend this year around Presidents Day so I have even less time!  Thought I would post a bit of what we have been up to what I plan to get to and what might get left behind or pushed into March.
     First off, my door--- each month we decorate our doors and post kids pictures.  I am not sure who came up with this but Mrs. Cap taught me my first year and I really enjoy it.  This time I decide to incorporate Catholic Schools Week, Snow and Valentine's Day.  I think it turned out pretty cute but I might tweak it for next year...
     We celebrated Ground Hog Day with Jennifer's Ground Hog Freebie and a short video on the Phil. We also read a story from Treasures.  
For centers and Valentine theme units I decided on these:
Part of my to do list this weekend is to figure out what I am taking from each and get a list of materials together.  I have all these units sitting next to my computer as we speak.  If I have time I would love to make Jennifer's Valentine Friend as well.   

Up next the 100th Day of School celebration which for us is this Tuesday.  As you can see from the picture below I will be basing everything off of The Wolf's Chicken Stew.  I was lucky to find a copy at the library and am using Michelle Oakes' unit along with a few other things I found on Pinterest.  I am making these for the kindergarten-1st teachers at school tonight.

At our school kindergarten and first graders bring in a 100 Days project.  It is supposed to be something that either has 100 items or says 100.  Last year AJ made the number 100 out of 100 100 Grand Chocolate bars.  Can I just say it was soooo yummy!  Gish thought up that project last year so it was up to me to think up this years.  Though last years wasn't super crafty I felt the pressure to come up with something good.  Gish takes pride in telling me his project made all the teachers happy once it was over because we got to eat them all.  I have this competitive side to me that had to find something good so he would be quiet.  Sad but true I do battle him out on little things.  

I had seen a wiggly eye t-shirt on Pinterest and asked AJ if she would be down for making a monster on canvas.  We looked at a whole bunch of friendly monsters online and then she told me what she wanted hers to look like.  I sketched it on canvas and had her paint it in the colors she liked.  I outlined some parts for her and then we let it dry.  The next evening we counted out 100 wiggly eyes, grouped them into 10's and then started sticking them on.  I was scared they wouldn't all fit but they did.  I think it turned out really cute.  She named her monster Hundy and can't wait to take it to school.  

Social Studies is where I am having trouble..  For Black History Month I plan to teach about Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks.  I would love to get more in but haven't found much on this topic.  I am hoping to get to Presidents Day and use Rachelle's packet but how do I get all this in and finish our mapping unit, when we only meet 2x's a week?!  

Instead of a brownie pan this month my class will be trying to fill a box of chocolates.  I painted the inside of a canvas red and added black stripes.  Then I put little mini muffin liners inside to place chocolates in.  I will post a picture as soon as I can.  

The thing I am still debating in Mardi Gras.  So does anyone else think February should be just a bit longer or not have as much going on???


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Catholic Schools Week 2012

     Just in case you were not aware, I teach at a small Catholic school in Maryland.  People often ask me when I want to go public and if I have any idea how much they get paid.  Some people even assume I'm not certified because I teach in a private school.  It's like they don't understand why someone would want to teach in private school.  Now I can't speak for every private school or much less for every private school teacher but in my case, I don't to go public, yes I know how much they get paid and I am indeed certified.  The truth is I love my school and I love my job!  Working my school is a blessing!  I have so much fun everyday and honestly work with the best people ever!  I mean I even send my daughter there and plan on sending my son next year.  We get to do so many interesting things and have so much fun!  
     Case in point--- Catholic Schools Week.  The last week in January we celebrate Catholic Education.  We always begin with mass on Sunday, the students have to wear their uniforms and do the readings, petitions and gifts.  On Monday of this week we had career day.  My class was visited by one dad who is a surgeon, a school mom who is an author and a deacon.  The kids loved hearing about their careers and of course sharing all they knew about being authors and doctors.  They also made pictures for a book Mrs. D hopes to publish.  On Tuesday we made Penguin Fact & Joke Books for the Children's Inn at NIH.  This was the perfect final project for our penguin unit and really let the kids do something to benefit others.  I used a Time for Kids flyer to introduce the idea of serving others and then we discussed what we could do the make someone's day brighter.  They loved picking one fact and illustrating their joke.  

On Wednesday we began the day with a prayer service dedicate to the parents and also had open house. Thursday was Student Appreciation Day.  In 1B we watched Happy Feet, had a no homework night and joined the rest of the school for Double Dare.  My team teacher Mrs. Cap created a game of HR Double Dare.  She pinned the A classes against the B classes and assigned us each a color.  I was white along with the rest of the B classes and AJ was red along with all the A classes.  Lisa then drew names of 4th-8th graders and teachers.  She came up with trivia questions based on pop culture, religion and teacher info.  Probably the most loved part though was the physical challenges she threw in.  My kids were hooting and cheering at the WHOLE time.  Watching Cheeto head, the whip cream challenge and the relay race was so fun!  In the end it was a tie, truthfully I think my white team got creamed, and everyone went home happy! 
Whip Cream Challenge
The White Team

Double Dare Stage
Cheeto Head Challenge
Red Team

Friday was Teacher Appreciation Day and a half day.  We had mass then our 4th grade buddies came over for a Snowman Birthday Party.  We had been using Abby's Snowman's Celebration all week and invited our buddies to the party.  The kids made invites for their buddies as part of writer's workshop this week.  They were so excited to deliver them!  I asked our room parents to help us gather up some supplies so we could do a snowman relay dress race I saw in Disney's February issue of Family Fun Magazine.  My buddy teacher Mrs. H bought all the supplies we need for the children to make a Trinity Snowman make and take treat I found on Pinterest and I got all the supplies for to make snowmen sundaes.  We tied this party into Catholic Schools Week by teaching the kids about the Trinity and giving them this poem.  
After our party the whole school attended the variety show.  Some teachers performed a skit to Teach Me How to Study, (a play on Teach Me How to Dougie), which was a hit with all the kids.  Thankfully I just had one line!  I am more than happy to leave all the rapping, signing and dancing to my more talented counterparts!  And oh my word let me just tell y'all Mrs. Cap can rap with the best of them!  She and one third grade teacher were A-MAZING!

If you've made it this far, thanks for showing interest in my world.  I hope I have shown a small piece of why I choose to teach where I teach!

P.S. Can someone PLEASE share an easier way to format and organize pictures in a post?  All the randomness of blogger is driving me CRAZY!