Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Terrific Transitions

Using chimes is how I transition my student throughout the day. I used to have my students transition using songs but I found that it could be time consuming and I had to get up to turn the song on and off. After reading The Daily 5, I decided to transition using chimes. This was probably one of the best purchases I could have made for my classroom. It is an unobtrusive way to get my students attention in and even has a calming effect on them.  People are always commenting on how they love the chimes. My principal even wrote in a classroom observation: "I like how you use the chimes to change centers (I remember this from last year as well); it's not loud, and the students respond well to it." I couldn't have said it better myself! This is how I transition for every activity in my classroom! During literacy and math centers my students hear the chimes 3 times and know to clean up and switch quietly. When they are working at their seats or doing group projects and I chime once they know to stop, look, and listen. It takes some practice at the beginning of the year but it is wonderful when all the students listen. This way I never have to raise my voice, noisely clap to get attention, or play music that sometimes students get into too much. It has worked well for me, give it a try. Here are the chimes I have in my classroom: 

I couldn't find my chimes on Amazon anymore but your can buy these which have great reviews:
If you click on the Amazon link it will take you directly to these.

Woodstock Percussion ZENERGY3 Zenergy Chime, Trio Percussion Instrument
Link up with Little Miss Kindergarten to see other ways to transition your students!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teacher Shopaholic

I admitted….I LOVE TO SHOP! Especially for classroom items, books, organization, and cute stuff like stickers. These are my favorite places to shop…check them out! Go over to Ladybug Teacher Files to see other great teachers finds! 

Top 5 Favorite Places to Shop:
1. This is my number go to place because they have pretty much everything I could ever need and I get free two day shipping. I get the free two-day shipping because I’m a student (grad school). If you are a student sign up for Amazon Prime. Some of my latest goodies from here are a pirate rug, anchor hooks, ink, wall decals, etc. I love getting packages in the mail…it’s like Christmas to me!

2.  Abe : If you haven’t heard of Abe books you need to seriously go there right now. I haven’t found books for cheaper anywhere on the web. Now it does cost to ship so you want to find books from the same seller and preferably in your state. I happen to be very close to an excellent seller. I find amazing deals on books; many which are hard back, or even from old libraries. You can find really good deals on most children's literature.

3.  Dollar store: Who doesn’t love hitting up the dollar store? I can always find something to buy even if I haven’t a clue how I’ll use it yet. They have an awesome section in my dollar store that has teacher stuff. Stickers, stamps, cute paper, oh my I can just go crazy in there! I justify all my purchases by thinking in my head…”It’s only a dollar!” 60 items later…I’m hiding stuff in my trunk.

4.  Target dollar spot: Now I don’t always get lucky here but when I do I feel like I’ve hit the gold mine! There are so many cute things you can pick up. I found these great little pots with ribbons to hold supplies on my desk. I love the way they brighten up my desk and are useful! 

5.  Lakeshore: I love love love Lakeshore Learning! I could/do spend hours in this store and online. I only buy when there are deals running though. I set up a wish list online and get on their mailing list. They send me coupons in the mail for back to school and e-mails for online specials. They have sales running for 20% items all the time. Those e-mails get me a lot! I have a ton of stuff from Lakeshore but one of my favorite items is the All Purpose Teaching Cart. It fits most of my word work activities and is mobile.

Keep checking back on my blog! I will be doing more damage as the summer goes on…in fact I think the Dollar Store and Target are in my plans for tomorrow.

Happy shopping! J

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Reader's Notebook

I am totally revamping my Reader's Notebook for my first graders this year. I have been using CAFE strategies and the Beanie Baby Strategies with my students. This past year I put the two together and with the help of two wonderful colleagues we made some other strategies that coincide with CAFE and fun animals that help students remember the strategies. We thought this was a wonderful idea...please let me know what you think. I love to here feedback and comments.

The first page of the notebook is the CAFE menu where students will write down the strategies they are working on. I will have the students write down their strategies in different colors. Such as Comprehension-red Accuracy-blue Fluency-green Expanding Vocabulary- orange.


The second page is a reading log that I got online. I like this because it gives information about the book and the AR score on the book. It also has children rate their feelings about the book.

Reading Log

The third page in the notebook is the comprehension strategies. I did not come up with these strategies but found them online here.


The fourth page of the notebook is the accuracy strategies. I also did not come up with these but found them from Angela Buyni here.


The fifth page is fluency strategies which my lovely co-worker came up with. Go Ms. C! She made these because we thought the students could use these guiding questions to help them build their fluency.


The sixth page of the notebook is from Mrs. Randall's blog. This is her fluency notebook and I just added it into the notebook after the fluency strategies. The notebook will only have pages 5-8 in it.
Fluency Pages

The seventh page of the notebook is vocabulary strategies which another co-worker came up with. Go Mrs. J!


The last page is a word wall for helping students expanding their vocabulary. This is so students can write interesting words they find in their reading and to work on their spelling of these words as well. It's a mini personal word wall they can reference.

Expanding Vocabulary

I hope that you find this useful. If you have any questions or problems downloading please let me know!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thinking of Teaching

Thinking of Teaching interviewed Donalyn Miller from The Book Whisperer and created a linky party to go along with the interview and book: 

1) What is your favorite book (or series) from childhood?
Angelina Ballerina was my favorite book as a young reader. In upper elementary I enjoyed Goosebumps and all the Little House on the Prairie books. Then in middle school, I loved reading the Chronicles of Narnia. Then along came Harry Potter in my late middle school years...which blew everything out of the water and is still my favorite series! 

2) What is your favorite book (or series) now? My favorite series now is Harry Potter but one of my latest favorite books is The Help. 

3) What is your opinion of e-readers? I think e-readers have opened up a whole new realm of teaching! You can really read anywhere with an e-reader. I think they are neat and would really like one!

4) Finish this sentence: "On Sundays I like to..." eat a big breakfast and wake up slow. Then I like to ride my bike, go to the farmers market, relax, and enjoy time with friends.

5) Describe yourself in 5 words! Passionate, dedicated, friendly, motivated, creative

6) Hardcover or paperback? Why? Hardback, only because I don't like waiting for the paperback version to come out! 

7) Coffee or Tea? Neither really but I have coffee occasionally. 

Fill in the Blank Friday

1.   The last thing I ate was     starburst! I love a little candy throughout my day.

2.  The next thing I'd like to eat is   steak and veggies for dinner.

3.  The best things     are the people that help you enjoy life.

4.  Something that makes me supremely and utterly happy is  unexpected phone calls from friends .

5.  Sports are    an incredibly fun way to stay active and awesome to watch live or on TV .

6.  I miss       Maikel and Stefanie my friends from Holland and Italy! Our visits are always to short! 

7.  Right now I am     going to read and take a nap

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Classroom Theme

I love having a classroom theme in my room now. My first year teaching I did not have a theme just primary colors and trying to make it through the year. My second year of teaching I got with the program and I decided on doing an ocean theme. Then I saw Beth Newingham's themes and fell in love with her nautical theme. So last year I did a nautical theme and I thought it came together really well! This school year I'm moving schools, which is a lot of work so I decided to stick with a nautical theme and improve it! I'm adding in some pirate items to change it up a little and I'm super excited to see it all come together this summer! 

Here are a few things I will be adding to my room: 

Product ImageProduct ImageProduct ImageRoomMates RMK1134SCS Ship Shape Peel & Stick Wall Decals

LA Rug Pirates 19-by-29-Inch Play Rug

All of these items you can find on The rug it super cute it has pirates and a treasure map on it. The pillows are for comfort in the library. The anchor are hooks that I will either hang hall passes on or headphones. The last picture is of wall decals that you can stick anywhere in the room to add to the theme and they come right off. I'm anxiously awaiting Clutter-Free Classroom's nautical/pirate theme packet so I can get more bulletin board ideas and resources. Check out my classroom last year on the tab to right to see what my nautical theme already looked like. 

Link up with Thirst for First to see more incredible themes! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

SUNsational Giveaway

Happy 1st Day of Summer! 

Check out this amazing giveaway! There are 7...yes 7 packets you can win from 7 wonderful blogs! Enter by Sunday night!

Take-Home Readers

School-To-Home Organizer

I have my students take home books after I conference with them. The students take them home in these clear folder.

I choose which side the book goes in. If the student needs more than one night of practice they keep at home. If they only need one night of practice I'll put the book in bring back to school. I also keep a reading log in the keep at home side. The student and parents are to write down the book title and sign off that the child read the book. 

The next day the folder comes back and I check that they read the book. I like to send home Reading A-Z books because if they get lost it's not a big deal. I also send home Houghton Mifflin leveled readers and phonic books. Once the student has filled their reading log, they get to take home a book of their choice. Then I put a new reading log in the folder. 

This system works really well for me. Since I do not have that many chapter books, I usually don't allow students to bring them home and I feel like this is the only problem in the system. If you are looking for other ideas on Take-Home Readers join Time 4 Kindergarten's Linky Party

Wish List

I just love wish lists! I have a wish list at Lakeshore, Amazon, and Really Good stuff. Listed below is my dream wish list. Hey, a girl can dream right?! If you want to see other teachers wish list join Really Rompers: My Wish List Linky Party.

1. Non-fiction Leveled Classroom Library
I would love more non-fiction books that are just right level for my students. 
Nonfiction Leveled Books Classroom Library
2. All-Purpose Mobile Teaching Easel
All-Purpose Mobile Teaching Easel - ElementaryAs of a few days ago when I went to my classroom, I did not have an easel. Now it may be hiding somewhere but I would love this one! I love how one side is blank and the other side has lines for writing. I also like the baskets at the bottom this would keep me organized while doing mini-lessons. This easel also serves as a pocket chart holder. 
3. Promethean Board 
When I moved schools I lost this bad boy. I loved having a Promethean Board and now that I don’t have one in my new classroom my teaching is going to have to change a little.

4. iPads
As long as I’m dreaming…I would love to have 2 iPads in the classroom. The students could use them for word work activities, listening to reading, and things I probably don’t even know about.

5. Accents for my room: I have a nautical theme and I love having pillows and accents like these hooks that make the children feel comfortable and at home.
Product Image Product Image
6. More storage options from Really Good Stuff!

Classroom Paper Baskets - Neon Colors (Set 3)

Now hopefully I’ll get a few of these items that are on my wish list!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blogs I Stalk

I will admit I have a bit of a problem. I love to stalk blogs! I have been stalking blogs since the beginning of the year and it has become a daily habit. I love getting new ideas and making teaching more fun! So I'm linking up with Clutter Free Classroom for a Blog Stalking Party

Blogs I love to stalk:

Primary Perspective: Mrs. Perry has wonderful ideas and resources for teachers. She is blogging every Tuesday during the summer about do it yourself projects for your classroom.

Clutter-Free Classroom: I am currently moving classroom and creating a nautical/pirate theme for this year so I'm on this blog all the time for ideas on how to clean up, label, and create a calm themed learning environment.

The First Grade Parade : This blog got me to start stalking back in January. She has so many free activities on exactly what I want or need in my classroom. She differentiates her activities and I love all her posts!

Primary Graffiti: Mrs. Saoud has an amazing array of primary activities. Her activities are always on par with what I'm doing in my classroom and she gives away games.

One Extra Degree: I would love to be in this class! Mrs. Nickerson makes learning engaging with her many units and makes me want to teach 3rd grade. She also has a ton of freebies.

What the Teacher Wants!  Hop over to this blog to see why you'll love it too! This blog is always coming up with wonderful ideas and unique things to do with stuff you already have in your room.

Fabulous in First: Fun, great, creative ideas for first grade or primary!

Happy stalking! :)

Looking for a great summer read?

Here is a list of professional books I have read that I find useful, interesting, and easy to read!

Spaces & Places by  Debbie Diller 
If you are looking to clean out your classroom, moving into a new classroom, or just want to spruce up your current classroom this is the book for you!

Boy Writers by Ralph Fletcher 
Do you have trouble motivating your boys to write? If so read Boy Writers to get your boy students interested in creative writing.

Daily 5 by  Gail Boushey & Joan Moser "The Sisters"
I like to read this book right before school starts again to refresh myself on the beginning of Daily 5 and modeling the mini-lessons. If you are not familiar with the Daily 5...check it out! It is the easiest way to get students to do independent work while you are pulling focus strategy groups, one-on-one conferences, or book clubs.

The CAFE Book by "The Sisters"
This book goes hand in hand with the Daily 5 and is a great resources to any teacher. It will help you organize and focus on your students to give them individual reading instruction. If you want to differentiate your reading instruction this is the way!

Entertaining and Elephant by William McBride
If you need to be inspired and feel burnt out from teaching, read this heartwarming story that will make you realize why you chose this profession in the first place.

Mentor Texts Teaching Writing Through Children's Literature K-6
 by Lynne R. Dorfman & Rose Cappelli
This is a powerful book on how to teach writing using your favorite literature. If you are looking to boost your writing workshop this books will give you examples and help you reflect on your current teacher methods.

Background Knowledge the missing piece of the comprehension puzzle
by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey
This is a helpful book for any grade level teacher but especially ESOL teachers. We all know background knowledge is important but if you want to know how to activate prior knowledge in all content areas this is for you.

Good-bye Round Robin by Michael F. Opitz & Timothy V. Rasinski 
This book has 25 effective oral reading strategies that help struggling  and young readers in comprehension, fluency, and metacognition.

Conscious Discipline by Dr. Becky A. Bailey
I love reading bits of this book every summer for classroom management. Using brain smart research Dr. Bailey will help you understand effective classroom management, how to speak with children when you want to pull your hair out, and your classroom into a positive environment. This really is a must read if you have not read it!

Happy Reading!
If you have any questions about the books leave me a comment! I've read each and every one--some of them multiple times.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

FREE Giveaway!

All you have to do is participate in this giveaway to get an awesome beginning sounds packet for the start of the school year. Start your day off right and head over to The Lesson Plan Diva: Free Beginning 
Sounds Giveaway for EVERYONE!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Little Things in Life-Friday

It's Friday.

1.   The last movie I saw was       Lost in Translation- pretty good since there is a thunderstorm right now   .

2.  I want to    mint chocolate chip ice cream  .

3.  Surprises are     fun if you don't expect them, but if you know they're coming, they're terrible (totally agree with you on this one!)

4.  The best accessory is  a smile...cheesy I know but confident exudes beauty. Other than that I love purses and shoes.

5.  My favorite warm drink is     hot chocolate...I LOVE chocolate  .

6.  My favorite cold drink is wine hehe or gatorade.

7.  Currently loving       summer! I'm going on a trip to Costa Rica in 18 days and can't wait. Summer brings joy, happiness and a renewing feeling for me. I just love relaxing and enjoying life!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ms. or Miss?

Good morning blog friends!

My school is ordering a name plate for me and wants to know what title I want to go under. I am currently unmarried and I'm unsure of which title I should use. Miss seems like it is for young girls and Ms. seems professional but also seems like you might be divorced. What title do you use in school?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

HUGE giveaway!

Is hosting a Giveaway Galore! 

Anna from Crazy for First Grade, Melissa from Mrs. Freshwater's Class, Erica from Erica Bohrer's First Grade, Michelle Oakes from Fabulous in First, Amanda from One Extra Degree, Cara from The First Grade Parade and , Kinderglynn have teamed up to offer you ALL these fabulous units and games! This is HUGE!

There are 5 ways to enter!

One Entry for Following all our blogs
One Entry for Following all our TPT stores
One Entry for Following all our Facebook Pages
One Entry for Putting all our Buttons on your blog
One Entry for Reposting this giveaway on your blog or facebook page

Enter by going over to Kinderglynn or don't because then I'll have more chances to win! ;)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bulletin Board Linky Party

I'm linking up for yet another party! I just love the summer time! Hope you enjoy my bulletin boards! They aren't as fancy as some teachers but I like to make them all meaningful to the students and interactive. Go link up with Teaching Happily Every After to join the fun!

Here are some bulletin boards in my classroom:

This is my decoding reading strategy board. The beanie baby bulletin board came from Angela Bunyi at Scholastic Top Teaching

This was my word wall at the beginning of the year. I did like how I could wipe off retired words and write in new ones but after reading Debbie Diller's Spaces and Places I have new ideas. Next year I will put it low to the ground so my little ones can take the words off if needed. I will also have a file folder with retired words in case some students still need to use them. I am also going to use smaller letters that are less distracting so the sight words pop.

This is my classroom jobs chart. My theme is nautical so it says "All Hands On Deck!" The puzzle you see around it the students made at the beginning of the year showing how they can be helpful in the classroom. I have a job for each student.

This is the Sailor of the Week board. This is like a student of the week board. This was my week at the beginning of the school year. The kids make this board look so much better! :)

You can't see the sign because of the glare but it says "Reading Takes Us Places!" I used this board with the students to track our read alouds around the USA. This helped my students to make connects with the USA and where we live in relation as well as pin point Social Studies books we read. The students loved to put a push pin in a new location. I got this idea from the wonderful Beth Newingham at Scholastic Top Teaching.

I wish I had thought to take a picture of the vowel wall after we had finished it but I did not. I put up each word family under the vowel it corresponds with just to help my students make connections with word families.
My library is organized by genres so I put this up in the library to help my students put books back correctly. These genre posters also come from Beth Newingham.

I know this is kinda hard to see but this was my CAFE board for the year. It is pretty small but so was my portable this year. Next year I will make this board bigger and better! The sticky notes you see attached are my students goals. The posters below are animals that go with each strategy : comprehension, accuracy, fluency, expanding vocabulary.

Some of my math focus boards. I change it up each unit. 

This isn't really a bulletin board it's a poster but I want to make it a bulletin board next year. I want to staple Solo cups to a board and have a bucket filling pledge with an area to get bucket filling forms. 

Reader's Choice board is where students get to vote on read alouds in class. They get to move their picture to the yes or no column depending on whether they liked the book. I like that this gives them choice and gets them involved in read alouds. Another idea from Beth Newingham.

This is the coveted star student board! My students love to get their work recognized on our star board. There is a column for writing, science, math, and reading. Students get to show off their work on the board and feel proud of their accomplishments. I pick who goes on the board and usually the students are really proud of one another and give each other high fives. I try and rotate who is on their to celebrate everyones success in the classroom. Another idea from Beth Newingham.

Accelerated Reader

My new school participate in Accelerated Reader (AR) to motivate students to read. If you are not familiar with AR it is a reading program designed to supplement a literacy program and motivate students to read using a point system. Students choose books to read and then take AR tests. Books have a point system varying on the grade levels and reading difficulty.  The easier comprehension tests are 5 questions and the harder the book the more questions the test has.  Here are some of my findings about AR:


It can be motivating to students.
Students independently choose their own books.
Teachers can monitor students' reading progress.
Reports provide information for students, teachers, and parents on reading progress.
A leveled system and point system is in place to match students to just right books.

All books are not AR books so students can not take a test on every book.
Test questions do not assess inferential or critical thinking skills.
Incentive based reading program
Does not promote long term reading

I know that access to books and time allotted for independent reading is supported by research. The other two aspects of AR: tests and rewards have not yet been proven to results in reading gains or promote long term read.

Here are some articles I have read to help me form a opinion about AR:

Does Accelerated Reader Work?
Independent Research Studies - Accelerated Reader

Does your school use AR? Do you like the program? Do you level all your AR books? How?

Now I'm off to try to level my books with the point system for AR. I hope that I can motivate my students without rewards to want to read and share my love of reading with my students this year. I want my students to become life long readers who devote time to reading.

Sunday, June 12, 2011



First Grade Frenzy is having a Birthday Linky party in honor of her birthday week! This is also my birthday month! I love having a summer birthday because I love doing outdoor activities. But I also felt slightly left out in class because everyone else got to celebrate their birthday and I did not.

My district does not allow us to celebrate birthdays with any food, cupcakes, cookies, cake, and we are not supposed to actually celebrate. While we are required to follow the rules about food and not having a "party", we find ways to celebrate and make birthdays special in the classroom. 

I give my students a birthday bookmark, pencil, huge sticker that says "Happy Birthday" and how old they are, and lots of hugs to celebrate their birthday. We usually sing the birthday song if they want to at the beginning of the day when they are given their prizes. 

For my students in my class we celebrate their birthday in June the last week of school. Since I have little ones they love the idea of celebrating just a month early. I like the idea of half birthdays and may do this next year. I just want to make sure no one gets left out.

My new school also has birthday books for a school wide celebration. The student may donate a book to the library and have a sticker on the inside cover that says it is their birthday book, age, and why the book is special to them. They also get to go on the morning announcements to say the title, author, age, and why the book is special to them. I think this is a great idea that I want to incorporate into my own classroom library. I think my students would love seeing their names in books and if enough students participated I would designate a special bin for birthday books. 

How do you celebrate birthdays in your classroom! Link up with First Grade Frenzy and share!

My Daily Schedule

I'm linking up with Growing Kinders to share my daily schedule! 

My schedule is in the front of the classroom right when the students walk in. That way each morning they can see if our schedule has changed at all or what the special is for the day. They love checking in even though it usually stays the same. Wednesday we have a slightly different schedule because we have early release day. Here is a picture of my schedule, it's from

Here is my schedule in list form:

1st grade schedule:
8:45 – School officially begins!
Reading Block  
9:00 – 9:30 Whole group reading time-Read Aloud/Shared reading
9:30-10:45 Literacy Centers/Guided Reading
10:45-11:11 Handwriting/Writing    (Recess on non P.E. days)
11:11 – 11:35 Lunch 
11:35-12:15 Interventions/Independent Reading
12:15-12:30– Math lesson
12:30-1:15-Math Centers
1:15 – 1:30 SS/Science
1:35 – 2:20 Specials-Wednesday 12:50-1:25
2:20-3:00 Read Aloud and Dismissal- Wednesday 2:00

Specials Schedule:
Day 1: Math
Day 2: P.E.
Day 3: Science
Day 4: P.E.
Day 5: P.E.
Day 6: Music
Day 7: P.E.
Day 8: Art
Day 9: P.E.
Day 10: P.E.

Here is what my lesson plan format looks like. I plan with my whole time so times reflect the whole grade level.