Friday, November 9, 2012

Currently: November!!

I am so behind on Farley's November Currently!!  Some of my family is in town so the blog has been put on pause.

I love Thanksgiving.  I have so much to be thankful for and one is for my co-worker, Ms. Curtis.  She pretty much rocks my socks off.  She stays late, has creative ideas, lets me vent/cry, and dresses up with me for Halloween AND 50's day.  There's nothing like having an awesome co-worker to teach with!!!

Happy Friday!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


This past week was full of excitement thanks to Halloween...and next week is going to be no different. Our school is doing a school-wide election on Tuesday.  Each class is given a state and their electoral votes...I'm pretty pumped because our librarian gave my class Maine (since I am from there)!  Throughout the day, each class will update the school on who their state voted for.  I'm just a little nervous about teaching on electoral votes since most adults are even confused on the process (guilty).  But, it's going to be a fun day...

My first grade team decided to make a big flag out of paper for our bulletin board outside our classrooms...Wish I had taken a picture of it, but on Friday, I just wanted to get.out.of.there.  I'm sure I'm the only one who has ever felt that way.... :)  I made two activities to go along with voting and presidents.  One is a sequencing chart that goes along with the book, "Duck for President!"  Such a cute, fun book.  And the other is a writing activity..."If I were president, I would...".  This one made me laugh...One student wrote that she would eat oranges all day and another wrote that he would have national nacho day (um, I'd vote for him!)...We are very food-driven in my classroom!  I also had some amazing answers such as feeding animals in the zoos and helping people who do not have a house or food.  Answers like that make this teacher pretty proud.

Here are the worksheets if you want to use them for the big day (In English and Spanish!)!! Just click on the link and it will take you to my teachers pay teachers account.

 I keep telling myself....only 3 more weeks until Thanksgiving!  This year really is flying by...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Two Posts in One Week?! What's wrong?!

Nothing is wrong!!  Just had a revelation with the blogging world.  I am determined to post more....We will see :)

So the other week, I was looking on pinterest...shocker. And I saw the *cutest* idea.  Frames used to write on.  This pin was to have in your house and write sweet notes to your husband, kids, etc. etc. etc. Welllllll, I started thinking about how I could use that idea in school, and I came up with this...

I was getting rrrreeeaaalll tired of looking at my standards, so I thought I would switch it up.  All I used was scrapbook paper, ribbon, frames from the dollar tree, and my trusty glue gun.

I feel like it adds more of a homey feel in my classroom...Seriously, took me 30 minutes to start and complete. If you are tired of your standards, you should give this a try! :)

And this just proves once again how OBSESSED I am about pinterest!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Classroom Reading Leveled Books!

This year, it is all about data, data, data!  Which has postives and negatives to it, but first grade is just rolling with it.  One of the things we are tracking this year, is my students' reading levels.  My princiapl bought all of us a fountas and pinnell testing kit, and I have been *trying oh-so-hard* to get all my kids testing for their reading levels.  TODAY I FINISHED!!  I rewarded myself with a Diet Coke, of course :)

So, since we are working on moving up the ladder of the reading level world, I decided I needed a reading leveled library in my classroom. Which is expensive!!  I wish I could buy fancy smancy books for my classroom library, but let's be honest...It would be more of a bucket of about 20 books.  At my old school, we used reading a-z.  Which is this *amazing* online source where it has about 20-30 paper books per level!  It does have a year membership fee, but I thought this was totally worth it.  So I took the dive...

I really recommend this website to any teacher trying to motivate students to read.  It has fluency tests, paper books, lesson ideas, etc.  Believe me, I have a strong relationship with these books now.  I spend multiple days a week, printing, cutting, laminating, duct taping, etc. this books, but it's ALL worth it, because my students are beyond excited about it.

Our first grade team decided to try sending home leveled books to read for 20-30 minutes a night instead of worksheets for homework.  We are still trying it out, but I students can't wait to show me that their parents signed their reading log and what they learned the previous night from their books. And in the month that we have started this little journey, most of my kids have moved up a reading level...uhh, why didn't I start doing this earlier?!!!

Here is the beginning of one of my lovely Friday nights...I printed out about 30 leveled books and laminated the covers to those books, so that the books will last longer.  None of my books have been destroyed yet...not even close, and I'm giving all the thanks to my trusty friend, the laminating machine.

After you fold the pages and cut the laminating, you staple the books together.

Duct tape!!!  The best part of this is that I got to explore multiple stores for the craziest duct tape.  Secret:  for the lower levels, I just did simple colors like red and purple...and as you move up in levels, the duct tape gets crazier and crazier.  This has motivated the students to want to move up levels so that they may get *gasp* Justin Bieber or Mario Bros. duct tape.  Yes, Justin Beiber duct tape really does exist...Why didn't they ever have Hanson duct tape when I was growing up?! :(

This is the finished product!  I will be the first to say that this take a lot of time, but completely worth it!!  Even my low kiddies are so pumped to get new books in their level... When the student moves up a level, they get a pass to the office to go give our principal a high-five.  Getting a high five from the principal is like winning the lottery at my school.  Hey, whatever works!

Lastly, I bought $1 bins at Target and put the reading level's duct tape around the container, and threw all those books in the correct bin...okay, I didnt throw them, because my blood, sweat, and tears went into each and every one of those books.  Since the container is labeled, my students can go "book shopping" on Mondays and Wednesdays for new books in their reading level.  I am hoping to retest their reading level every month.  Let's cross our fingers!

Now, I need to set up my raz-kids account...This is JUST like the paper books I have but it is online.  So, the kids can do it during workstations or at home for homework.  The amazinggggg thing about this is that they listen to the story, read the story outloud, then take a quiz on the story.  If they pass, they move on to the next book, if not (sad day) they read the story again.  AND, the kids earn points for their "spaceship" and once they earn enough, can buy different things to decorate their spaceship.  I know, I'd rather earn a Tory Burch bag or a free dinner, but it doesn't take much to get the little ones excited.

Just wanted to share this idea since it has worked so well in my class!  Congrat, by the way, if you read this entire was a long one :)  Happy Monday!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Currently: October!!

It's that time again....Currently: October!  I am linking up with Farley from Oh' Boy...Fourth Grade.  I CAN NOT believe it is October already. I think this school year really is going to fly by.

So, a fun little story from this week: grade level team building competion. I am super competitive and my lovely coworker, Curtis, is too.  Not a good combo...for the other team levels.  Since Curtis skates with roller derby, musical chairs was no joke.  Let's just say...everyone near her was scared.  I was scared and I was on her team!  Long story short, we won (with some bruises)!  The next game was basketball shooting.  My high school basketball coach would be proud.  I bet all those silly boys in the shooting contest.  Overall, first grade teachers came out the WINNAHS!  We rubbed it in to the other teams *just* a little.  Promise.  So, as our prize, we get to leave early one day (which we NEVER leave early, so it's the thought that counts!)  It's funny how I totally forgot about all the grading, bulletin boards, paperwork, etc. I had to do during that one hour.  It was good for all of us!!

Blog is coming soon about our class' "road trip" to Washington D.C.  My class is STILL amazed that the president gets to enjoy 136 rooms in the White House.  I wish I could pack my 25 lovelies up and actually take them there! :) 

Happy October, everyone!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Number Sense Math

I haven't forgotten about my blogging world, I promise.  Life has just gotten a "little" C.R.A.Z.Y.  Phew!

This week's craziness involved:

- Making leveled readers for my classroom...Let's just say, I've fallen in love with reading a-z and raz kids allllllll over again.  But, I am starting to hate laminating and duct tape.  My kids are obsessed with it, which is ahhhhmazing.

- Being told grades were due in 2 days.  With about 2 assignments graded. Yelp.  Yeah, that's one of my weaknesses that I am trying to improve on.

- Cotton Candy fundraiser, with the head teacher out = me (on my planning period) twirling that fluffy sweetness on stick after stick....well, I did sneak in a few bites here and there...which was worth it.

- My school has a new member...a lizard (which my kids named Charley..who knows where that came from!!).  And the bestest thing happened this past Friday.  My principal walked in with the lizard on a leash.  That's right, A LEASH.  It made my heart happy.  It actually motivated my students this week to stay on task...All I had to mention was that little guy visiting us and they got right back to work.  Genius.

In other news:

Workstations.  I have quickly realized that I have some pretty awesome reading and language arts workstation activities and only a few math ones.  So, I am trying my hardest to just make my own... but this takes time, and we can all agree that time is hard to come by when you are a teacher.  Slowly but surely.  Anyways, I made a number sense activity that I laminated and put magnets on the back.  My students build an ice cream with the number, the written number, an addition fact, and the number made out in dots.  Whenever I pull out this workstation, it makes me crave some BlueBell. Yummy.

This is up on my teacherspayteachers if anyone has the problem like me and my math workstations.  Happy Monday! :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Linky Party: What's YOUR favorite reward/incentive?!

Well, Carrie over at First Grade Derby is having her first linky party.  I've quickly realized that bloggers LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these linky parties. Why not?  You meet new people and get some pretty cool ideas.  I'll take it.  This linky deals with anything and everything about rewards and incentives in the classroom.

I don't know about you all, but my little kiddies get so excited when I mention the treasure chest or candy.  Can't blame them...My eyes and stomach get REAL big when I walk down the candy aisle during the halloween season.  This can get pretty expensive.   One reward I can't get enough of (and my students can't either) is our classroom "Noodle Jar".  It's Ahhhhhmazing.

This little guy will get anyone to raise their hand and try their very best to answer a question.  So, what happens is I have a box of uncooked ziti noodles at my desk.  If a student uses their "noodle" in an outstanding way, they get to put a noodle in the "Noodle Jar".  Once it is filled, our class will take a vote on what kind of party we want...pajama day, a movie, popcorn, extra recess...the possibilities are endless.

Personally, I love it, because my students learn that sometimes we have to work really hard for things that we want.  Plus, it's a group effort.  They cheer each other on for earning that little noodle.  Which is awesome!  We love our food in my room, so I hear many debates on if we are going to have a movie/popcorn party or an ice cream party.  I know, the life of a 6 year old.

So, what do you love to do in your classroom to reward?