Friday, November 30, 2012

My Friday Favorites

Truly this has been an amazing week.

1. I loved the many, varied lessons that I created (and taught).

2. They wrote letters to Santa (that I will type up this weekend). We did a bit everyday and they turned out awesome!

3. Lunch in the classroom.

We eat in our classroom every Tuesday and Thursday. We practice manners, conversation, and have a good time. I let them talk, but not yell. This week we listened to Christmas music while we ate.

4. We decorated the community tree downtown on Wednesday. Each child may bring an ornament to hang (and not be returned), we sang several songs around the tree when we were finished (think Whos and Whoville), and then our PTO had hot chocolate back at the school when we got back.

I love the picture that has the tree and the grain elevator in the background. My school and its town is crazy cool.

5. At recess today I noticed that the pigs' and calves' water was low. Two friends offered to help fill the tanks. Love that recess can be more than playground and soccer. I love those options, but how many schools can chore (and love it) during recess?

6. The phonics dance is going so good! I did LSF (letter sound fluency--given random list of letters, produce as many sounds as possible in 1 minute) progress monitoring this week and my kids raised their scores by a craaazy amount. I happy danced all around the school showing off their scores. My hope is that will soon transfer over to nonsense words (and real words). Next screener is in January.

7. The TpT sale was wonderful. I've been enjoying looking through all my goodies and plan how to use them.

8. The teachers I work with are great (you know who you friends in person and in blogland). They are encouraging, never condemning and want the best for me and all the kids. Thanks!

So with my heart full of gratitude, tonight I will watch tv and gear up for the next week.
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Monday, November 26, 2012


Today I taught with rigor.

If you know anything about the Common Core State Standards, you know that we must teach the standards and with rigor.

That word rigor has scared me a little. I can teach, but how do I know if it is rigorous enough?

With the help of my newly created scope and sequence I have lessons planned out for the next 2-3 weeks (some parts need filling in, but it is mostly there). And today I felt like it was a rigorous day. For me and the students.

We never let up. Math-place value tens and ones, number sense with a hundreds chart. Reading-Feature Flamingo with National Geographic Young Explorer, onset/rimes, digraph sh, contractions. Writing-begin letter to Santa. Science-what is in the sky.

Tired yet? I am. Poor kids, we did not rest today. I did let them use the restroom if they asked, but they were so busy that my usual kiddos that ask forgot about asking! And one that never asks, asked.

Hope they rest up tonight, because I've got four more days planned just like today.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Liebster Award

What joy! Looking through my google reader this evening and read on Jessica's blog, Joy in the Journey that she has nominated me for the Liebster Award. Thanks Jessica!

This award is given by bloggers to other bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs.

I need to share 11 random facts about me. Answer 11 questions from Jessica. Nominate 11 blogs. And think of 11 questions for my nominees to answer.

Here goes.

11 Random Facts:
1. I love planning. Not necessarily carrying the plans out, but planning.
2. I think that green olives are an important part of all family gatherings.
3. Green olives also belong on homemade pizza.
4. I love the color red.
5. Goodwill and Eddie Bauer are my favorite stores.
6. I got married outside, in Kansas, in July 17 years ago. Some people say that it was a hot day, I don't remember that.
7. I could play any role (male or female) in The Sound of Music. I can sing, dance and recite ALL of the lines.
8. When my children were young I stayed home and was a daycare provider.
9. I saw two lambs be born last February. Amazing.
10. I really dislike mice.
11. My guilty pleasure is watching Dancing With the Stars. I've never voted, but have cheered loudly in my living room.

11 Questions from Jessica:
1. What grade do I teach and how long have you taught this particular grade? First grade, first year. (Previously taught a second/third combo class for one year, and elementary SPED for 9 1/2 years)
2. Do I prefer warm weather or cold weather? I think warm.
3. What is my favorite subject to teach? Why? Reading, because that is the subject that I have had the most PD in and feel most comfortable that I know what I'm doing (usually!).
4. How do I incorporate technology in the classroom? Occasionally I use the SmartBoard (wish I knew more about that), I also received 2 iPod Nanos from DonorChoose that I loaded books on CD so the kids can listen to books during our reading time.
5. What's my favorite activity for a rainy afternoon? A warm drink and a good novel. 
6. What's the best book you've read recently? I have read ZERO novels since school started. However, during summer I read through the whole Bailey Flanigan series by Karen Kingbury. Loved those books.
7. What's my most successful classroom management strategy? I started using Table Captains this past week. Why had I not done that before? It is wonderful! I read about it on A Teeny Tiny Teacher's tip post. "Table captains, wash the tables. Table captains, come get the papers. Table captains, make sure the floor around your desks are neat." It is great (and they loved it!)
8. What time you I wake up on a typical weekday morning? 5:15 am.
9. What, if anything, do I give my students for Christmas? Last year I made a special breakfast for them (mini muffins and sausage that I made in class). This year I think I may give each a book.
10. Do I decorate my classroom for the holidays? Not so much, but maybe this year...
11. What's my favorite vacation spot? Oregon coast. I've only been there twice, but it was amazing, and I want to go back. Mostly, where ever my family is, is my favorite spot.

11 Blogs that I am Nominating:

11 Questions for My Nominees:
1. What is your favorite classroom "tool"?
2. What is your most successful classroom management strategy?
3. When did you start blogging?
4. What grade do you teach and how long have you taught this grade?
5. How do you incorporate technology in your classroom?
6. What is your favorite professional book?
7. What do you like to do in your free time?
8. Do you give your students a present for Christmas? If so, what is it?
9. Do you have traditions or rituals in your classroom? If so, what is it?
10. What is your favorite book to read aloud?
11. What is your favorite subject to teach?

Don't forget to leave me a link to your blog when you have answered! I can't wait to read more about you and I hope you enjoyed learning a little something about me.
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Summer Bucket List

Crazy title, huh? Especially since it is the day after Thanksgiving.

Way back on May 12, 2012 I created my Summer Bucket List. #1 on that list was to create a year-at-a-glance for reading, writing, math, social studies and science (and ag as much as possible).

Sorry to say that it (the year-at-a-glance) never happened.

I tried to several times. But could not figure out where to start. Blame it on switching grades. Or lack of understanding of CCSC. Or that I was too busy creating cute "things" for my classroom. Or that I was doing the other items on my bucket list.

Recently I decided that I needed to get it done. Sure, we are 1/3 into the school year, but that leaves 2/3 of the year to get everything else done. I needed a plan.

Especially since I am eager to really teach The Phonics Dance and the Critter Cafe (see Ms. Marciniak's post or mine).

Sure, I could hop along and skip around and hope that I do everything possible before May 2013 rolls around. OR, I could buckle down and put a scope and sequence on paper.

This past Monday I was sitting in the bleachers at my son's (who became a teenager today!) basketball game. During half-time I pulled out a tiny notebook, a calendar, The Phonics Dance book, my districts word study list and started planning. Week by week. It was so fun. I couldn't even put my books away when half-time was over. I tried to work only when there was a break. But I may have missed seeing a basket that my son made (oops).

No time to work on this plan on Tuesday, we were preparing and feasting and recovering from feasting.

However, I did get back to it Wednesday morning. Now I was ready to add the CAFE strategies. And today I added social studies, science, writing, and art. Ohhhh, it is so lovely.

Perhaps over our Christmas break I will add math to it.

I would be pleased to let you see it. If you leave a comment and your email I will send it to you. Maybe you could even give me some tips on how to make it better (more user friendly) or how you scope and sequence.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Thanksgiving Feast

We all do it. We plan (a lot, but sometimes it feels like only a little) and wing the rest. We endure the chaos. And the students have the time of their lives.

I woke up at 3 am, wondering what I am forgetting to pack for today's Kindergarten and First grade feast. I managed 105 more minutes of sleep, but then started my day.

The biggest question of the day was how to get everything cooked and ready to eat by 11:00 (our regular lunch time)?

Naw, no worries. Cook, and eat when it's done. Just like the real Thanksgiving day.

We split the kids into 5 groups and rotated them through all the cooking and prep stations.

1. Baking bread.
2. Chopping vegetables for the soup.
3. Making Pumpkin Pie (in a cup)-- this was my station.
4. Coloring placemats for the table.
5. Making turkey trail mix holders out of empty school milk cartons.

It was chaos. Several times in the morning my good friend the bread baker said to me (I think I'm the only one she said it to, am I the only one who doesn't handle this type of activity very well?) "Yes, it is chaos, but look, the kids are really enjoying themselves."

OK. It was worth it.

Only 1 kid got cut with a knife. A sweet boy from my class. What was he doing with a table knife anyway? Do you know how dangerous those are? Fortunately our nurse was on site today. She checked him out, no stitches needed, just a couple of bandaids and he was back at it.

When everything was prepped and we just needed to wait, I pulled out my trusty stand-bys. Books.

I read 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving (and we made text to text connections), then I read Balloons Over Broadway (and we learned some history), and then I read Gracias the Thanksgiving Turkey (and we learned some Spanish words).

And while I was reading to all 80 kids, the grown ups were downstairs putting the food on the table. What an awesome sight. It was lovely. When I saw those tables, that is when I got my festive spirit, I knew the chaos was worth it.

Lunch was late. We ate at 12. But I did not care.

 The table setting before food was added.

Tables after food and children were added.

The food was so delicious.


Cranberry salad, bread, and pumpkin pie (I really do not like pumpkin pie).

As I was vacuuming after everyone had left I tried to remember the 2 servings of soup and salad that I ate, and that it was ok to exercise (push the vacuum). But I had visions of my couch and a soda while my kiddos were at PE.

Crazy teachers, we are already talking about how to make this feast better, more efficient, more festive, and more organized (especially the clean up) for next year.
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Technology is a Wonderful Thing

Technology is cool. But who has time to mess around and figure it out? Or time to use it repeatedly so you don't forget what you did? Not many teachers at my school.

Last winter I was fortunate. Our school had just received 2 iPads and I got to take one and mess, play, and try to do something with it.

Sure, free game apps. Kids got it some. But I did not know how to teach the kids or what to teach them.

Mostly iPad time reinforced what they already knew, and they were never creating or documenting with it.

How can I justify wanting iPod touches or another iPad if I don't use this one til the battery runs down every day?

Today through blog hopping I found Sandy @ Soaring Through Second. So many ideas and tutorials! I loved the one about creating a SmartBoard file with music for transitions. She even posted a tutorial on how to do it. Find that tutorial here.

So I made one. It rocks! I cannot wait to show my kiddos on Monday.

I showed my family, but they were not as impressed as I would have liked. Maybe they were thinking, "Wish she was cleaning or cooking instead of being on that computer AGAIN."

I tried to take a picture of it to stick in here, but no tutorial for that and I cannot find the right buttons to push.

Other cool ideas: using iPods/iPads to create vocabulary videos! Wow that's neat. Publish kids writing and synching it to iBooks. How about recording kids reading with Voice Memos? (Already downloaded that and tried it out. It rocks.) Will be introducing that on Monday.

So much more research to do. I would love to be a techie as my students.

Good thing it is going to be a 2 day school week. And we don't have plans until Saturday. I'm pretty sure I will be glued to my computer. Creating more musical files. And planning more Critter Cafe lessons.

Seriously people, go see Sandy at
Soaring Through Second

you will not be sorry!
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Linky

Time for me to jump on the Thankful bandwagon. Lindsey at A Year of Many Firsts is hosting a fun linky called "Stuffed with Thankful Thoughts."

This is my thankful thought list today.

1. I have found a groove at school that works for me and is acceptable to my principal.

2. My husband who does the lions' share of the laundry.

3. My older son who is growing into a fine, young man.

4. My younger son who does not let me get too serious before he brings me back to reality.

5. My extended family who have much to share and encourage me daily.

6. My school family. They provide many opportunities to grow and learn and love.

Tomorrow my list will most likely be different. Or maybe not.

Go check out what others are thankful for at

(I tried to put her linky button on, but it is not working for me tonight, so all I can do is her regular blog button. I can try again tomorrow.)
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

C.C.the Cow

I am loving The Critter Cafe! This unit was created by my bloggy friend, Ms. Marciniak, @ First Grade Critter Cafe'.

Using my birthday money, I was able to purchase several beanie babies to teach a couple of "Cafe" strategies. I was super nervous starting this. I used come Cafe information and techniques last year. But it never really clicked for me.

Yesterday it clicked.

We (who am I kidding, it was all me) finished reading out loud The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary last week. Oh, we enjoyed it. I always think it is a good thing to watch the movie after you read the book, so that is what we did.

We watched the movie yesterday. Then, in order to make the activity educational, I prepared a compare and contrast lesson (enter C.C. the Cow).

C.C. helped us to know how to compare and contrast. Wow, the kids were good at this. I think they do this a lot, but do not always have the vocabulary to let us teachers know that they know how. Now, we are all on the same page.

This is the poster that we created.

(Yellow and Blue make Green)

It helped a lot if the student held C.C. while giving me a similarity or difference.

When we were finished, I hung the poster in the hallway, so that our schoolmates could marvel at how smart these first graders are. It did get attention.

Here are some of the kids explaining the poster to our principal.

They have such a great handle on this comprehension skill!

Waaaaaay back in September I read The Three Billy Goats Fluff. It was fine. But they did not know the original version. About a week ago I found a big book of the original Three Billy Goats Gruff. And I read it today.

Perfect way to practice compare and contrast again. And again, it really helped to be able to hold C.C. the Cow.

Later in the afternoon (while I was progress monitoring), the kids had a word sort to complete. Wow, they worked quickly and carefully. Because I told them they could practice more comparing and contrasting when they were finished.

LOL! "Kids, do this work fast, and then practice this comprehension skill! It is fun!" Just shaking my head.

I was half-way done with progress monitoring, looked up between kids and what did I see?

A group of 4 students sitting in a circle in the middle of the room. Whispering. Comparing and contrasting the two Billy Goat books. Pride was spilling out of my eyes!

Cannot wait to teach another skill with a beanie baby. It is the perfect way to take an abstract idea or skill and make it concrete. And that is just what we all need.

Hey, if you are interested in learning more...go visit my friend Julie, at The First Grade Critter Cafe, and tell her that Alyce sent you.
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Favorites

This was a good week. Many days I was excited to go to work. And many days I left feeling good about the day. How am I going to pick 5 fantastic parts to the week? I will give it a try.

1. Chores went well. Better than I expected.

2. My birthday was great. Surprises and fun.

3. Several meaningful conversations with my coworkers and new blog friend.

4. My students are rocking telling time to the hour and half-hour.

5. First basketball game of the season for my older son.

What were your favorites from the week?
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cloverbuds, A Quilt and A Birthday Party

On Wednesday our K and 1 classes joined up to learn about corn.

4 rotations. 4 teachers. All the kids mixed up into 4 cross-class groups. 20 minutes each rotation. Fast and furious. I learned so much, I wonder if the students learned anything.

The first K teacher talked about popcorn and ate popcorn.

The second K teacher discussed animal names for males, females and babies. They also created a cool take-home paper.

I found two videos on Pinterest that I showed. Kids Corn(er) and The Great Corn Adventure. Do you know all the things that are made from corn? Do you know the difference between sweet corn and field corn? Do you know another name for field corn? We (the students and I) were a bit surprised by some of what we saw/heard.

The other First teacher also showed a video. We did not coordinate, but did not overlap. Sorry, no picture of the other teacher working.


When Cloverbuds was over we put together our November Quilt. Lovely.


In the afternoon they sang our version of Happy Birthday to me. It is called "On The Day You Were Born" by Red Grammer, album Hello World. It was so nice.

In the middle of them singing our secretary walked in with this.

When we finished eating our cupcakes I took these wonderful kids out for an extra recess. WHAT?

I have never. Never. Never given kids an extra recess. Sure I mess with times, but go out for a third recess? Unheard of from Mrs. Bartel.

Hugs and love and "You're the best teacher ever" were coming my way.

It was a fun, and educational day.
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Sunday, November 4, 2012


Social skills? Do I have any? Some times.

I've learned a lot by watching other people and how they interact. But I've also learned by direct instruction.

My school has homeroom every day.

Homeroom is a multi-grade grouping of students (about 17-20) assigned to one teacher. If a student has a sibling at the school the sibling is in the same homeroom.

It is very handy to have homeroom. That is how chores are done. Last year's chores were a bit different than this year's chores. My chore week starts tomorrow. Nothing like having chore duty the week of your birthday, right? Also included in chores are watering in the greenhouse and collecting the recycling from the classrooms.

We have occasionally had family-syle meals in our classroom. This is done with homerooms as well.

But with 10 homerooms this year, all taking turns, what to do with those 20 minutes if you don't have chores? Years ago the teachers that created our charter school thought it would be great to exercise as a school.

It is great. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays you can catch about 150 students, teachers and staff outside walking the path from 8:05 to 8:25. The path is 1/3 mile around. If I hurry I usually get in 2 laps. I even speed walk.

Why can't I get in more laps? Mostly because my homeroom is the last to get outside every day. We are in my class greeting each other.

We learned early on about proper (for the USA anyway) etiquette for greeting, and hand shaking. And since we are a farm school, we need to know how to shake hands like farmers do.

These are the guidelines that we follow:
     1. Use the right hand to shake
     2. Look the other person in the eye
     3. Use the other person's name in your greeting
     4. Smile

This took a lot of time teaching and practicing, but now we are sooooo good at it. It is sort of like a receiving line. As the students come into the class they greet me, greet everyone else in line, and then get in line at the end and continue to greet those behind them. It is really pretty slick to watch.

One day soon after we started this a third grade girl found me outside while walking and said "Mrs. Bartel, the kindergartner (and she used her name) knew my name!" She was so excited. Now we can talk about how we feel when someone knows our name and uses it.

Wednesday homerooms are a lesson day. I started the year reading about Shubert. But this past week I decided to try something different.

I brought in some toys from my home, and taught the kids how to play. What it looks likes, sounds like, feels like. I had a couple of kids model the correct way to play, and incorrect way to play.

One of the best parts of multi-aged homeroom is the kindergartner and first grade students can see how to behave like a third and fourth grade student. What great modeling and leadership.

I had Lincoln Logs, a play kitchen, some motorcycles and tracks, and (of course) books.

I spent my time helping students use their words. How to ask to play. How to respond when someone asks them to play. It takes guts to be vulnerable and ask, please be kind in your response.

We didn't get to play on Wednesday last week. We were parading downtown to get candy. But we did play on Friday and I brought in my Little People farm. Big hit.

Hopefully I will get pictures of us choring this week. My boots are dirty and ready to go.
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Saturday, November 3, 2012

November Currently

Thanks to Farley at

for having another currently linky party. This is one of my favorite linky parties. I love reading everyone else's, they give me ideas and I love great teacher ideas (even when they are not about teaching).

So, here is my November Currently.

Probably the only one that warrants explaining is music. As part of the birthday party that we have in our class, I always play (and we sing along to) the song "On the Day You Were Born" by Red Grammar. It is on the album Hello World! It is on iTunes, but I can't figure out how to link it here. I love this song, and it can create tears of joy in adults, be warned.

There you have it. November. A great month. Be sure to hop on over to Oh ' Boy Fourth Grade to read more currently.
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