Friday, September 27, 2013

Five for Friday

Well another week went by where I FAILED to update this blog!  Six hours of tutoring and the loss of an hour of planning time this year is really taking its toll on my blogging.  Maybe October will be my month!  Here is my Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs!

Even though I am not blogging about it, there are some great things happening in first grade:

1. Word Study
All of my word study work for the summer is really paying off.  My kids love the word study choices this year!  Here are some snap shots of each of the games I have for each word study sort:

These are available in my TPT store

2. Weekly Science Experiments
This year I am trying to do a science project on a weekly basis to try to implant the scientific process into them a little bit at a time.  These are super simple science projects, but we go through the process and ask questions, make hypotheses, make observations and record results.  The kids are loving it!  I am happy that I have actually stuck with it this year.

3. Testing, Testing, Testing
Test 1 is done, Test 2 starts next week.... Is there anyone else out there who just wants to start teaching reading?  Its so hard with all of these tests.  My goal is to get it ALL done this coming week!

4. Kevin Henkes
We just finished up our Author Study for Kevin Henkes.  My kids loved everything about him and I am amazed at how much they retained about this awesome author.  I am also really proud of my kiddos for using comprehension strategies already with my daily read alouds.  I have a rock star class this year!

5. Football
A non-teaching thing.  Anyone else's team 0-3 this year?  My poor Redskins just can't get it together!  I am hoping for a W this week!  Go Skins!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Five for Fraturday!

Of course I am late for the first Five for Friday I have actually sat down to write, but here it goes anyway :)  I have been dying to share some stuff about my class this year.  So I am linking up to Doodle Bugs for the first time this year!

1. Math Centers
I have always loved the routine of our morning literacy block and started the second half of the year last year trying to duplicate it for math.  I HAVE IT DOWN!  I am obsessed with my math block because it runs so smoothly.  

We have a one hour block for math which starts out with Problem of the Day.  Each day, we work on a math problem that was given to us by the math department.  This is a nice start to get us focused on the math time.

After the problem of the day, we do a quick mini lesson.  Here is a screen shot from a pattern/sorting unit:
After we do the mini lesson, we break into centers.  Here is a screen shot:
Each day, my kids attend two groups.  Depending on the centers, they either stay there for 15 or 20 minutes.  I ring the bell when they are done and then they rotate.  They are getting really good at this.  I have 8 units/week and then on Friday we either assess or do something fun.

We end our math time with Number Talks.  I have to be honest, when we were told we had to add number talks to our daily math routine I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, but I LOVE them.  For the past two weeks, we have just been working on identifying numbers in ten frames:
We talk about how we see them.  For example, this would be I see two and two which is four.... or I see five in all, but one is not filled in so I see four.  I think it will really help their number sense when we get to adding and subtracting especially since we do it on a daily basis.

We finished our patterns/sorting unit this week.  I have posted the entire unit, including mini lessons, assessments, center printables, number talks and guides on TPT.  It has everything you need for a 10 day pattern unit including 12 centers.  Enjoy!

2. My Class
I love my class this year.  I am blessed to only have 16 kiddos and they have a great personality!  They are hard workers and are really trying their best :)

3. Fall Weather :)
Fall weather has arrived in Northern Virginia.  I am loving the pumpkin spice lattes and boots weather!  Since we have had such a mild summer the leaves are already changing too!

4. Travel Fridays
I love to travel and bring that into my classroom.  This week we went to Spain!  We made castanets too.  I have a lot of ELL students in my class so they were thrilled to share their spanish with the other students.  When we travel on Fridays, we pretend to fly to the country and then we talk about what we can see, hear, taste, smell and touch in that country.  We talk about landmarks, food and fun activities.  They really enjoyed Spain, even though our visit was cut short because of the weekly fire drill!

5. Life Outside of School
On Monday one of my best friends came to town from California.  I was so excited to have her and her hubby and 10 month old baby spend the evening with us.  It was so fun to have a baby around and to catch up with her :)  It was a great way to start out the week!

Have a great rest of your weekend!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Motivate Me Monday

Hi friends :)  I was thinking last week to use my five for Friday for pieces of motivation that I have come across as the school year has started... but in typical form I did not get to post for five for Friday (those little first grade germs got to me quick this year!)  Anyway, I was thrilled to see Motivate Me Monday over at First Grade Buddies so I thought I would link up!

I have two things.  At the beginning of this year, we watched this clip:
I also came across this on facebook this past week.  I know it has been circulating so you may have seen it already, but really puts things into perspective:

Happy Monday!  I hope to not neglect this blog this week - there are lots of fun things going on in my classroom I want to share!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Day Jitters

Yesterday was my first day.... and I still had first day jitters!  I would have thought by year 6, those would be gone, but I did read a fellow teacher's facebook status that said the same thing.  She had decided that getting first day jitters is a good thing because it means we are still excited about teaching.  I will have to agree.

But back to those first day jitters.... I love that book, but alas didn't have time to read it to the kids!  Anyone else overplan for the first day?  Like didn't get to half of the things they wanted to?  Guilty!

I had so much I wanted to do yesterday, but we didn't quite make it.  I reflected on Day 1 last night and decided I still did too much.  Today I want to slow down and really make sure those procedures and rules are in order.

My biggest success for yesterday?  Getting the kids on the right bus!  This is my biggest fear every year, but they all made it where they needed to go at the end of the day.

I also found my math time to be extremely productive, although... again, didn't get to everything!  This week I am implementing full math time procedures.  Our county is implementing Problem of the Day, which is great!  We are also implementing number talks. I really wanted to get our math procedure down this week so we started with our problem of the day and then rotated through three centers (just playing with our math tools this week) and then finished with number talks.

I think I have math planning down to a science this year and I am thrilled.  I make a flipchart for each unit.  In the flipchart, I have the daily problem of the day, a whole class mini lesson, the centers for that day and the number talks lesson.  This way, the whole unit is done and I can adjust year after year.

Well, I need to start getting ready to head back for Day 2....

Monday, September 2, 2013

September Currently

I am doing two blog posts today so I can link up to Farley over that Oh Boy 4th Grade for her monthly currently!  Two blog posts should get me out of my blogging slump and ready for the school year right?!  Well here it is!
Listening: My husband never gives himself a chance to relax and has been working really hard to get ready for school.  He is a high school social science teacher and is great at what he does.  I am pleased he is sitting enjoying some relaxation and video games before day 1.

Loving: We spent the morning cleaning the house from top to bottom!  It is so much more calming to have a spotless house to get some work done :)

Thinking: Tomorrow is the first day of school.  I got to meet a lot of my kiddos last week and I think it will be a great year... but those first day jitters never go away, do they?  I would have thought by my 6th year I would be comfortable on the first day of school, but you never know what could happen!  I am hoping for a smooth day tomorrow!

Wanting: I have cleaned the house today... and wrote about my classroom on my blog... but that's it.  I need to do some prep work for tomorrow, but keep finding things to put it off... I want some motivation!

Needing: Fall!  I love Fall weather... its so humid right now in Virginia!  The first sign of fall comes this week (unless you knew the secret code to tell the barista at Starbucks to get an early one)... a pumpkin spice latte!  I can't wait for my weekly treat.

Me: We have been traveling and in and out so much this summer it has been hard to cook every day.  Now that school is back and we have a routine, I am looking forward to home cooked meals!  When school starts, we are super busy so I am hoping to get in at least 2 legit date nights this month.  I would also like to getaway for a weekend!  Last fall we were busy planning and prepping for our wedding... this fall, I am looking forward to enjoying more of the season (not that our wedding wasn't enjoyable, just busy!)

See you next month!!

Classroom Tour!

Welcome to my classroom for the 2013-2014 school year!  This year, I decided to tackle a theme.  I love the super hero theme I have going and cannot wait to incorporate more super hero stuff throughout the year.  We start school tomorrow so that is why the classroom reveal is so late!  I wanted everything to be perfect :)

My big book center fits in this tiny space.  I like how the books can slide in and out of this space between the wall and my cart.  I locked the wheels on the cart so it can't move.

This back wall bothers me because it is hard to hang stuff up there that changes throughout the year (which is what I did last year).  This year I decided that this whole back wall, including my word wall, will be to help my students spell... a "Spellers' Secret Weapon" if you will.  This way they can access vowel sounds, word families and blends to help in their writing.  I hope it works out well.

This area is designated for math.  I hope to change the wall as the units change, but also think its a nice place for this information.  The baskets on the cart are all my math centers.  For the first week of school, each center will simply have a different math manipulative for them to explore as they get use to our math procedures.

I bit the bullet and bought a rug this year.  It was a bit pricey, but I hope the kids will take care of it.  It just adds so much comfort and color to the classroom!  This is my reading corner.  Kids each have a reading bag.  In it they must keep 2 classroom library books and 2 leveled readers.  The leveled readers are numbered and each group will have a designated box they can check out of depending on their reading level.  For the classroom library, they each get 2 clothespins with their names on them.  They use those to mark where they took their books from so they know where to put them back!  I also have a toy box full of stuffed animals for them to read to!

The reading corner also houses my Author of the Month center.  We will start with Kevin Henkes because he has such wonderful books about going back to school and making friends.  I will keep Kevin Henkes books in the green basket and then pictures of him and his books on the bulletin board.  I am proud of these bulletin boards.  The shelves were ugly in the back so I bought cork board from Michaels and put it on there so I could easily use it as an additional bulletin board!
This is my Theme Center.  In the past I have had a science and a social studies center.  I am simplifying this year to only ten centers.  I combined science and social studies.  In this center, they can read any of the science/s.s. books.  They can also explore state themed flash cards or peruse their science textbooks.  Each week, I will also have a thematic activity for them to complete.  This week it will be "All About Me." They will draw a picture of themselves and write 2 sentences.  I am hoping this center gives me a place to add fun things that I don't have time to teach... like extra activities for Groundhog's Day or President's Day.

This is my writing center.  I found those great posters on Pinterest two years ago and love them.  I also found the idea to hang the binder dividers up on Pinterest.  This way their weekly paper choice is visible to them and easy to access!  I also have Word Folders for each season, month, holiday, etc.  I plan on changing these weekly to help guide their writing.   The Word Folders have common words for that theme.  This week I have summer and back to school ones out so they can spell words like "beach" or "school."

My Fluency Center is ever changing.  We will start with these... they have monthly readers' theater, poetry books, sentence match up and their weekly poem.  The poetry books are simply books of poems they can browse.  I have my readers' theater from Scholastic.  They have great readers' theater books.  A couple years ago I invested the time of putting them in file folders and laminating them.  I split them out by monthly themes and change them each month.  Having them laminated and having multiple copies allows them to use dry erase markers to mark their part.  I also have sentence match up.  This can be found at my TPT store.  It is only 5 dollars for a whole year's worth of fluency practice!  With this activity, they have a picture and they have to find the sentence that describes that picture.  I also write the poem of the week on sentence strips for this center.  They then have to organize the poem in order and practice reading it.

Does anyone else have tons of old Scholastic News?  I can't afford to order the news this year, but I have all my old posters from past subscriptions.  These are still prevalent so I hang up a different edition each week for students to read.  There is a microphone for them to practice "reporting the news."

Organization is key to me!  It helps me be so much more productive in my limited planning time!

This year I am trying the Listening Center a bit different too.  I use to put out all of my Listening Center books all year, but they just couldn't keep that clean!  This year I am going to try putting out one book a week with an activity.  Here is a little tip on how to create your own listening center books!

Can you tell I was tired on Friday when I wrote the objectives for tomorrow up?  Can you find my mistake?!  Fortunately, a good friend of mine saw it so I can fix it before the kiddos arrive tomorrow.  We are required to write the objectives and identify the process skills.  I made the process skills cute so I would be more likely to use them :)  I want to add a sign above them saying "what super power are we using today?"  

This is my reading table.  I love those storage ottomans :)

My Word Work Center is different from my Word Study Center.  At the Word Work Center, I will have sight word practice, word family practice, blends practice, etc.  At the Word Study Center they will each have an individual box with their words of the week to practice using games and other activities.  You can find my whole years' worth of Word Study sorts and games at my TPT store.  You have to buy the first half of the year and the second half of the year because they were so big!  Its only $20 for the whole year!

Classroom view from my desk!

My desk area!  Sorry its a bit blurry... not sure what happened there!

I add 5 sight words/week to our word wall.

I invested the time in making new book labels this year and I think it looks a million times better!

I am proud of this :)

My word study center will be on this counter where each group of kids will have their own differentiated box to work from.  We won't start word study until week 2.  I also love my Redskins Locker! It was at my mom's house from Christmas 1995!  I hope this brings the team good luck this year!!

Once I get pictures of the kids, their faces will go in their super hero for their birthdays!

Thanks for visiting my classroom!  I can't wait for it to be filled with first graders tomorrow!