Sunday, September 30, 2012

How's It Going?

A conversation after school on Friday with my friend Angela and reading Kelley's blogpost today got me thinking. In a good way.

How is Daily 5 going in my class? Well, as usual, I started off great, we made I-charts, graphed our progress with read to self, read to someone and word work. But then, as usual, I got nervous about not having reading groups, hoped for the best, expected the kiddos to go for 15 or 20 minutes when we were barely at 10 before, and got very frustrated when the time was more management, and not good teaching.

So, what next?

Time to back up. Reteach the dailys. Make more I-charts. Keep the I-charts on the board (they have been hanging out in a folder -duh- how is that supposed to help anyone?). Practice. Graph. Practice again. Model. Do it again. Review the charts. And not worry that I the aide in my class is thinking I am crazy. Time to reread everything I blogged about over the summer.

Thanks Angela and Kelley for prompting me to evaluate and analyze my reading/Daily 5 time.

It is not too late. It is never too late to improve on what I do.


But I could use some advise...

My school does not have a reading series (that is both good and bad). So I am not quite sure what my first graders could be doing during word work time. Are there activities that are on-going or create something new each week?

What do you have your first or second graders doing that is meaningful for word work time?

Thanks is advance!
Pin It!

Friday, September 28, 2012

First Grade Common Core

Common Core is common in my district by name only. This year we are implementing ELA, and Math will soon follow. It is slightly different than our previous standards, but aligning all the activities and documenting teaching each standard is a little new.

I (unlike many of the wonderful teachers around) need to be shown how to do things. Like... what do activities aligned to CCSS look like, how to integrate the standards into say our ag lessons, etc. Once you show me, I am pretty much good to go, but show me at least once please with some great ideas and I can rock it.

Enter this fancy book...
It has activities, centers, posters, and worksheets that teach ELA and Math CCSS.

Go to First Grade Common Core and see for yourself. This book could save you time, energy and give you the encouragement to go forth and teach some awesome lessons.

I may be spending some of my "free" time this weekend looking it over.
Pin It!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Some Good Things

Time for a mid-week feel good session...

Something good from school:
Fall conferences are half over and going well. Not sure why I get nervous about them, but I do.

Something good from home:
Tonight my older son wanted to talk to me a lot. About stuff (I can't even remember about what), but I love that he desires my attention. Tonight my younger son played card games with me. Creating bonds with both boys feels so good to me. And my husband (their dad) was able to enjoy all of it with me.

What's going good for you?
Pin It!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Five Favorites from the Week

I really meant to write this on Friday. But you know how it goes, stuff happens. Stuff in my case means my MIL fed my kids and I had the house to myself. Did I blog? Goodness no. I cut out bugs for a math lesson on Monday and then I cut out squares that have letters on them, for word work.

And then on Saturday I went to a soccer game, cut out more letters, worked in my classroom for 4 hours, cut out sight words and watched Bedtime Stories with my kids.

So, now it's Sunday and I get to think about my favorite things from last week.

1. Thursday's math lesson was infused with some whole brain teaching strategies. We used Mirror Words, and boy were they involved. It was great. Too bad that wasn't the day for my principal and a principal from another school to come and do a "walk-through" mini evaluation.

2. Got the kids caught up in their math books, autumn picture drawings, and the birthday book for my friend whose birthday we celebrated on Monday (sorry that took so long, friend).

3. Matched names with faces of the other first grade teachers in my district on Wednesday at the after school meeting. And learned what to mark on the report card for the whole year (that is such a deal for us).

4. Showered my friend (who happens to teach first grade at my school with me) with diapers and presents for her little bundle that will be born in October. She is hoping he waits until after P/T Conferences.

5. Got my iPods loaded with cds so we can start "listen to reading" this week. So thankful for the iPods, thanks Donor's Choose.

6. I continue to get hugs and "you're the best teacher ever" comments from the girls and boys alike. Often after on the way to lunch or during transition times. And once this week a friend came to me when I was switching reading groups and asked "can I have a hug?" Of course!

What was good about your week last week?

Pin It!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Word Work

Today we had lots of practice at Word Work. They loved it! After creating an I-chart we set off to work.

I gave them some choice: color words, or "at" words. Both sets were around the room for them to see.

We had 4 practice sessions. One with white board and marker. That lasted 2.5 minutes, until one special someone HAD to talk to his neighbor.

Next was white board again. This time 3 minutes before that special someone talked to his neighbor.

Third I pulled out some letters. They could choose white board or letters or a combo of both. 3.5 minutes until--you guessed it. That someone talked. The rest of the class was so bummed about not getting to keep working, but alas, must stop for his sake.

The fourth session I included the white paper and marker option. They hardly EVER get to use markers, I do not like them. They smear. They smudge. And they get on everything. So I was surprised that not all of them chose the markers. This time they went 4 minutes! Yep, my special someone is making gains and building his stamina.

They are excited to do this option again tomorrow. And me too. I want them to practice writing and reading the words that will be assessed in a short week or two.

I am slowly getting the hang of this first grade thing. But it seems that as soon as I get one aspect under control, another roars it's head and demands attention.

Recently under control: Aimsweb testing done yesterday (by me). Word Work.

Roaring head: What to do with that Aimsweb data. Learning the CCSS front and back for ELA and Math.

Pin It!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Families

My school family:

There is definitely something to be said with each student having a meaningful job. All 22 of my kids have jobs. My students did last year also. It is important to me. And Becky Bailey agrees with me. (Or rather, she taught me and I love it.)

One job we have is the "first aid giver." Usually it involves adding band-aids to a bloody something, checking our band-aid supply or helping a friend to the office who needs an ice pack.

This week our first aid giver is taking her job very seriously. And she can be a little scattered at times. LOL. I did not know until today how seriously she is taking her job. Like an EMT, or ER doctor, or someone who works with emergencies.

At recess another friend fell, scraped up her face and arm and was crying. I was right there and saw it happen. She came to me and held me and cried. I held her too. A different friend suggested the first aid giver. She knew who she was looking for and ran to her for her help.

I watched this next part very closely and it will be forever etched in my mind as a beautiful moment.

As the first aid giver received the news of a hurt friend, she ran to us. The look on her face was full of determination, concern and ready for whatever might be required of her. And more concern.

We told her what happened and asked if she would take our hurt friend to the office for an ice pack. She put her arm around her, the hurt friend leaned into the first aid giver, and they very carefully started walking to the door.

I didn't see any more. I was trying to process what I had seen.

I love my school family.

My home family:

Today we celebrate my younger son who was born 10 years ago. So many memories. Of the day he was born, and of the years he has been with us.

Tonight we will eat tortellini alfredo, garlic bread, and white cake to celebrate him.

I love my home family.
Pin It!

Monday, September 17, 2012


I love my school.

This was recess today after lunch.

Eyore the donkey is back. We had quite the time of it last year. Read about it here and here. That may not be enough information...he shared a pen with our sheep, but they all had difficulty getting along. He came back this morning. This kids were so happy to see him. I have mixed feelings. He is in a pen all by himself. That is not ideal, but what to do? The goats are so little. The calves? Perhaps we will figure it out.

And Mooshoo the pig. They get checked plenty during the day...are their noses wet, are their ears up? Do they need more water? And, how about a little love and attention? You betcha.

When I first visited my school (before I became a teacher here) I could not believe that children would voluntarily spend their recesses looking at, playing with, loving on the barnyard animals. But it happens every day. Today was special because Eyore is the first animal back that we had last year. My first graders remember him. They were so excited to know that he was back. They ran out to say hello. The second graders also came out to have a visit.

Yes, they also play on monkey bars, swings, the slide, hide and seek, tag, capturing grasshoppers, and they have been known to have dance offs. I certainly wish I could give them a longer recess to be kids, enjoy our cool, autumn air, and play pretend.

Pin It!

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's Friday, Here is a Fantastic Five

Yep, I think that every Friday I will be able to say, "Whee, what a week."

1. We finally got our September quilt finished. I love it. Got it from Reagan. I had no idea how it would turn out, so I am pumped that it went together so well, and the kids really enjoyed the challenge of getting the patch correct (can you spot two that didn't quite get it right?).

2. Writing. This is going better than I ever thought was possible. Wednesday and Thursday we actually stopped writing early, because so many of the littles wanted to share their writing (and be bragged on in front of the class). They are using the sight words and spelling them correctly. And the stories are about meaningful events: picking up dad at the airport; dad was on a business trip, walking the dog on the hill; creating big machines.

3. Our class cheerleader and encourager stepped up their game this week. So many good things to cheer with the kids.

4. Dance party in the class Wednesday afternoon.

5. Our farm animals are slowly returning. Early in the week two goats arrived. Tuesday two calves decided that being near children would be a good way to spend the next nine months. And Wednesday a pig that thinks she is a dog settled in. Now chores start. It was nice to start school without animals, but it feels more like "home" when the animals are here and depend on us. 365 days a year. We will not get weekends or holidays off. They will still want to eat.

So what are your Fantastic Five of the week?
Pin It!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Good Things

What a great way to end my mid-week day...

Jennifer at Rowdy in First Grade has this great linky. It is called

I get to tell you 2 good things. One from school and one from home. Here goes.

My something good from school:
Today my kids worked sooo hard to listen and follow directions quickly (and they even helped each other do it), because yesterday I showed them the scoreboard from Whole Brain Teaching. It was so lovely. They worked for a smelly. I have LipSmackers and rub a bit of some flavor on the back of their hand. They think I am awesome and they are princesses and princes when they get a smelly.

My something good from home:
It's time for me to go to bed and the kitchen is clean, and we have clean clothes to wear tomorrow.

Your turn...what is something good, now link up, or read other good bloggers good things.

Pin It!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The State Fair

It seems to make sense that an Ag./Tech Charter School would find a way to get to the State Fair. We did, yesterday.

Of course, it has to be educational. I correlated our science standards to state fair exhibits. I created a spreadsheet to keep track of groups of students, packed lunches, and notes from parents. I sent a plea to parents to help lead groups (back at parent information night). This is a fun field trip, so I had 10 parents agree to go and lead a group.

The day was gorgeous. Not 60 degrees F., or 100 degrees F. 70 in the morning and 80 in the afternoon and sunny all day.

Most groups were able to see all that I suggested. My group went to the Farm Bureau Building to learn about caring for animal agriculture; Agri-land to explore seeds and grown crops; the Butter Sculpture (this year was a train engine); a milking demonstration; the birthing barn (no animals giving birth, but I saw the sweetest newborn lambs); then we got our free ice cream (compliments of Farm Bureau) and ate that on our way to lunch.

We enjoyed our lunch with loads of other school children, and lunch was not ruined by eating ice cream first.

The afternoon was a bit slower, we had lost some steam. We saw the 4-H projects (so neat and gave me ideas for what I could do next summer); and the adult 4-H entries (I was impressed with many of the quilts, and pretty jars of canned goods).

It was a full day. I may have had trouble keeping my mouth closed as I dozed on the bus ride back to school. Lucky for me no pictures were taken during that ride (at least I don't think any were taken).

My camera was left at home so I wouldn't have to carry it all day. Now I'm wishing for some pictures to share. Guess they will come next year.
Pin It!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Classrrom Tour in Pictures

I love looking in other teacher's classrooms. I get so many ideas, which is why I always carry paper and a pen with me, and why I love reading blogs so much.

Last Tuesday I was in a different building for a meeting and couldn't focus on the meeting for a while, because I was busy looking around and taking notes.

You have been waiting long enough. Here are some recent pictures of our class. (Picture caption is under the picture.)

Standing at the doorway looking right.

Standing at the doorway looking left.

Now pictures from the center of the room.

 Looking back toward the door. This is a reading nook, my laptop that is hooked to the SmartBoard, and the very outdated Elmo (the Elmo in my room last year was brand new, this is brand old).

Swinging to the right just past the SmartBoard is some CAFE information, our daily schedule, missing student pizza pan, School Family jobs and a chair for me to sit in to read or teach while they are sitting with me.

On to the other side: small group table, my mini-teacher desk with my computer, loads of professional books, a word wall, and just out of the picture are 3 bookcases filled with math and LA manipulatives, curtesy of the retiring teacher (thanks again Mrs. Brunk).

The other corner, more books, another table to work at, cupboards filled with math and LA resources that don't get left out, our friends and family board (children are allowed/encouraged to bring in a picture of their special family so we can get to know them as well), the mountain goat head that comes with the room, mailboxes and just off the picture is the sink/water fountain and then the classroom door.

Now we are back to the beginning.

I am linking up with some bloggers who are hosting picture linky parties. Yeah, go check them out, There are some fascinating rooms to look at. remember your paper and pen!

Courtney from Swimming Into Second is having a party.

Teaching Blog Addict is also having a party.


Open House Week

is having a linky.

So head on over, spend some time enjoying the views that you will see. I know how I am spending my Saturday (after soccer, before the birthday party). 
Pin It!

Monday, September 3, 2012

September Currently

Time to link up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the September Currently linky.

I don't often have to do the laundry during school, because my husband takes care of it (love), but he has to work today and some sheets just need to be washed. Listening to either son play the piano is a great way to spend time (I wish they'd play longer than the required time).

This day reminds me of summer, before I started working everyday getting my classroom and curriculum ready for the beginning of school. I got up. Watched GMA. Crafted a bit. The boys are also doing what they want. Lovely.

While surfing (blog surfing of course) this morning I found an organizational blog with ideas for freezer breakfasts. Wonder if I can make myself make some today. Find the post here.

I don't like the calendar arrangement in my classroom. I really need to go fix it and take down August and put up September. By Wednesday because tomorrow is an inservice day.

Favorites: I love composition notebooks. I decorated a new one today in preparation for a 2-day seminar that I will attend on Thursday and Friday about MTSS. Perhaps a lovely notebook will help me miss my first graders less. When I went to school on Saturday I rearranged. Pictures soon perhaps? If I remember. Dark chocolate, especially Dove. Certainly a great end to a quick lunch. Need to buy some more this weekend.

If you want to read more currentlys, head over to

Happy Laobr Day everyone!
Pin It!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...