Friday, January 30, 2015

Let's Play a Game

Because we are all about the games in First Grade.

I'm calling this game--Five Awesome Happenings from the Week Ending on January 30, 2015.

Later I will link up with Kacey @ Doodle Bugs Teaching.

1. My student teacher (Miss Scheuerman) started fulltime on Monday. She is turning out to be a fantastic addition to our room. She is helpful. Thoughtful. Full of joy and enthusiasm. Eager to learn. Eager to teach.

I think I will keep her for the rest of the year, and if I can--I want her back again next year (not because she would not be ready, but because she is wonderful).

2. Wednesday was National "Have Fun at Work Day." I took it to heart! I wore some new shoes and made many people smile with my witty comments and playful attitude.

3. Thursday was "No shoes necessary in our classroom" and "Eat lunch in the classroom" day. 

4. Thursday was also "Kansas Day." We frosted "sunflower" cupcakes while sitting in a circle. As I was taking a video of the circle, the kids spontaneously started to sing. They sang a song learned in Music class--maybe you know it... Home on the Range. Melted my heart and filled it up all in 52 seconds. I sent the video to the Music teacher, she loved it also.

I'm pretending that this sing-along happened because we were on the floor, in a circle, being a community of 22. We've been a class for a long time. But now, we are more than that. I LOVE it. Every single day.

5. My husband knows a person, who works for a place that has nail aprons. Nothing fancy, but sure is handy for holding all of my important supplies during the day (phone, pens, beads [for giving for following directions and doing the right thing], sticky notes, confiscated toys, keys, school id--you get the picture). Well, I needed one for Miss Scheuerman. She wore hers today. 

So happy that it is Friday. That I have already eaten, and that I can soon take my evening nap, because, tomorrow I will be back to planning and preparing for ANOTHER great week.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Five for Friday (January 23, 2015)

Yay for time and energy and photos to post to my favorite Friday party. :)

We split up the K-1 students into 4, 4-H groups. Today we rotated groups in order to complete the Power Panther Pals curriculum. Mrs. Jones taught the "Play Hard" part. I taught the "Eat Smart" part. One other teacher made the snack with the kids, and the last teacher taught 4-H pig curriculum.

We celebrated a birthday, and I love this letter.

Mrs. Roux tried to teach me the difference between straw and hay. (I really know, but played along with her.)

Jenny (in the foreground) is back. She spent December and January back at her first home (she had a gig in a Living Nativity). 

And we were gifted another calf (background) today. She is pretty, not quite as tame, and will get named soon.

And the most meaningful photo. Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Roux in the barn. Taking care of business. I stayed outside. There was a dead mouse in there and Mrs. Jones tried to keep the information from me, so that I would not be freaked out and still go in the barn, but I heard her whisper the news to another. 

So, since there was a critter, I would not go in. Not sure they noticed me.

Now I'm creeped out again about going in the barn. 

I have a strict "don't ask, don't tell" policy about mice in the barn. But someone told. Aaaaaccckkkk.

Once, when Mrs. Roux was in the barn, standing, talking, watching kids work--a mouse fell from the rafters. RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER.

Now you understand. I am not going in. EVER AGAIN.

I have chores in March and need a really good friend to do them for me. Any takers?

Thanks Kacey @ Doodle Bugs Teaching for the party. I love it every week. Hop on over and find out what other friends of mine did today...

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

This is Where We Learn

Or practice what we've learned.

Or do the task set forth by the teacher.

On a chair
He is completing his math "problem" in the most interesting way. I do not care. He is working. He is staying on task. And apparently, his body needed a different angle.

On the floor, with a friend

At a table, with a group of friends

Everyone finished at about the same time. Whether it was independent, or with others. I love that they are choosing what works for them to practice/complete a task. (This task was to show in their journal as many ways as possible that 7 marbles could be split into 2 different cups--write the addition fact to show the way. Great problem solving activity, since we had completed a similar one together just moments earlier.)

And they loved it also.

In fact, when they were done, they gravitated toward books, and their poetry folder. Some wrote more poetry to add, others practiced what was in it.

Then the BEST. THING. EVER. 

Independent from me, an impromptu reading/singing of poetry. Students gathered around after being invited by a couple.

And their appreciation was expressed in applause. I did not start it, but sure did join in.

Now as I reflect on those moments...

**Gratitude for time and space to allow these special children to choose a meaningful activity.

**Gratitude that social skills were being used by all (and recognized by others). So much so that one girl came to me and said--"I think you should give everyone 2 beads (my PBIS--please do not ask what that means, just know that it is 'catch them being good'), because everyone is getting along and no one is yelling."

I gave her a humungous handful of beads, and she joyfully spread them around to ALL of the students. 

**It felt like recess, because of so much choice. But it was real learning and practicing. Both reading and math, but also social skills. "Will you read this book to me?" "Come on, let's practice this." "Do you have a number chart that goes higher than 100? I want to make harder math problems."

**I am down to two desks, two circle tables, one rectangle table, and a kidney table. I think this will do it. It almost feels like we can breathe. We are more relaxed. We focus better (except for right after lunch). And I do not freak out about desks moving around or who is touching who's desk.

I really need to get a photo of the classroom. People walk by and say, you have so much room. Yes, I do. And we LOVE it.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wordy, or Not Wordy?

This is the big question.

Which linky to join?

Wordless Wednesday or What I'm Loving?

Well, It must be What I'm Loving, because there is SOOOOO much love in my heart, that I have TONS to share!!! Thanks Michelle @ Big Time Literacy for a great reason to put off going to sleep.

Love #1: Students having literacy conversations while I work with a small group. (Independent after teaching last week.)

Love #2: My classroom that now has room for us to move.

Love #3: I think a student of mine that had LOADS of trouble being on task, following directions and doing the right thing last semester is adapting to a desk-free room. This student is able to move when needed and I am able to teach and we are getting along so well. We are definitely keeping each other happy.

Love #4: My sister, the nurse. She diagnoses my aches and pains over the phone and then I feel much better, except for the part about a knee-replacement that may be in my future.

Love #5: Blog buddies who are so much more. Friends. Coaches. Cheerleaders. I have the BEST friends who share, collaborate and inspire me every day. Michelle was my very first Skype ever on Monday. She spent 30 minutes encouraging me, and that was the best PD for me. And Julie for bringing content and CCSS together and sharing that goodness with me. And Em for doing the small group research and willingly share that knowledge with me who is tired and doesn't have time to do the research right now.

Love #6: Music. Piano played by my sons. Trombone and trumpet played by my sons. And the radio.

Love #7: My cozy blankets that are keeping me warm now as I begin to drift off...

Love #8: My teaching partner (Mrs. Jones). We laugh. We cry. We support. We care. That is it, because that is everything!

Love #9: Intermittent sunshine, maybe a bit more tomorrow...

See, I could go on and on and on. I'm pretty sure that I will fall asleep naming more people and things and moments that I love. 

And that is good. Love and thankfulness. 

What do you love today?

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

I'm Finally on Board

Centers, Stations, Rotations, whatever you call them: I have had a most difficult time getting on board.

Until now...

It's got to be the new space I have "found" in my room.

All Saturday while Mrs. Jones and I were working at school (more to declutter, organize, rearrange, etc.) I kept thinking about where, and how I could put up a literacy station that was meaningful. And what that station might be. You know--really reading or getting better at a reading skill. That was a BIG deal when I realized what was going on in my head.


I've read the Daily 5. Tried it. Too much going on. I couldn't handle it. Read Literacy Stations and took a college class on it. Tried that too. We were tripping over each other. Didn't like that either. 

Now, as we embark on this new thing of "space in the classroom because of all the not having desks" I have so many ideas.

Here is what I put together... a retell station; a spell our weekly sight word pocket chart station; a winter books for reading and answer comprehension questions with one of those balls that has been sitting in my cupboard for three years because I didn't know what to do with it; a poetry station; and the library, because if they want to read--who am I to stop them?

Tomorrow can't come soon enough. I want to get these kids reading and pull a couple of strugglers and encourage their skills, teach them something and give them time for guided practice.

Pictures and more stories to come...

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

What's New and A Hug

When will I ever not say "I'm tired?"

Won't be today. Because, I'm tired!


I haven't even checked my blog reader this week. So, friends, I will get caught up this weekend and send some comment love. School and home have kept me busy. Not extra busy, normal busy.

See, I'm trying out a new thing. And it is wonderful and tiring all in one big ball.

Over the break I learned of teachers going deskfree. I've read plenty about not having a teacher desk, and that went three years ago. But what I'm talking about is kid-deskfree.

Mrs. Jones and I got pretty excited about the idea. We stayed up late dreaming. We worked extra in our classrooms. We talked it over with our principal. We talked it over with each other. We did A Ton of research on the internet. We got our custodian on board. And we began implementation this week, and it's been fantastic.

Today 8 desks moved out and one circle table moved in.

Weird how a panoramic photo squashes the room...

Here's what I've noticed so far...

1. The kids could move to get a drink or pencil and not trip over a desk.

2. The kids chose where to write during writing time. And boy did they write!!! For 15 minutes. Sustained. Check out the beauty...

There were a couple of side conversations, but then they got right back to work.

More of what I have noticed...

3. Since the kids move more, it seems to me that they are more attentive to me when I'm giving direct instruction.

To give direct instruction I pull all of the students up front. And there is room for all of them, no one is crowded.

4. Since they are all near me, I am able to be sure (as best as I can) that all are "getting it."

5. They have been smiling A LOT.

6. They seem happy to read, write and do math, instead of having recess all day long which would be their choice.

7. When they have finished a given task, they can move onto another task: read a poem in the pocket chart, take it apart, and read it again (it is really fun with a pointer); retell a story with retelling cards; read books for fun; or add "ch" words to a circle map that we started first thing this morning. See, awesome. And they have space to do this without stepping on someone or interfering with the direct instruction that someone else is getting.

8. I moved to the kids who needed instruction (instead of them coming to me) and that saved time which means more instruction.

9. Kids can make choices. I give the parameters and then let them choose. They have more perseverance when they make their own decisions.

10. I am super excited to develop more areas in the room to allow for purposeful practice of skills that I have explicitly instructed.

11. It has been even easier to differentiate the practice or instruction, because I can SEE. I see the kids. I see what they are doing. There is no hiding (at least, I hope not).

12. This is why I'm tired---I am constantly assessing, differentiating, redirecting, teaching, noticing and that, my friends, is mental and physical work.

Now, a story.

As the kids were leaving today I gave each a hug (as is my ritual). But there is one sweet boy that has never hugged me. He has his hand ready for the high five long before he reaches me, and that has been ok for us. As he approached today I got my hand ready. 

However, he nearly knocked me over with a huge hug around my waist. Quickly I grabbed him in a return hug. Then he was off to find his mom.

I was so stunned that I nearly forgot to hug the next in line.

I do not know what caused the change. It could be any number of factors. But I do know how it made me feel to have him hug me for the first time. 

Like a Rock Star.

He may not hug me tomorrow and that will be ok. I will let him lead for the rest of the year. But I will definitely be available for him--in the classroom, in the hallway, and when we say good-bye at the end of the day.
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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday.

Brought to you by Miss DeCarbo.

The wonderful maintenance guys lowered my SmartBoard yesterday. Now my first graders can reach the top! Love it.

Can your students reach your SmartBoard (if you have one)?

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