Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wow what a week already!

I am the winner of Literacy and Laughter's awesome giveaway and I'm super excited! 
I get the a personalized copy of Square Cat and a $15 gift certificate to Lettering Delights! 

If you haven't already checked out this blog you should! She has wonderful creative ideas!

On another note I feel like I have graduated to a certain level in my teaching. I only have to be observed formally one time this year! (Yeah!) I will have two informal observations and one formal observation. Before I had two formal observations and several informal observations. Now I don't really mind being observed but it does give me a lot of anxiety before the lesson and waiting after to hear the results. My BF thinks I'm very silly because he says I worry way too much and then get back great results which I then over analyzed and critique. But isn't that just what teachers do? We are always trying to strive to be the best at what we do!

Tomorrow we have our character parade! I'm dressing up as a pirate arggh! I will have to take plenty of pictures of my cuties all dressed up! I wish I could share with you but you'll have to settle for pictures of my team and I. We also are having our fall centers tomorrow. My room mom put together two awesome crafts, a cookie decoration station, and pumpkin observations. We have a lot awesome volunteers helping out so hopefully I'll get to wander around and snap pictures of each group. 

After our fun day on tomorrow I only have to teach on Thursday. I get Friday off because of report cards and report card conferences next week! I couldn't be more excited to have this day off so I can get my house ready for guests this weekend (it's Homecoming weekend and a ton of girlfriends and college friends are coming in town) and for our Halloween party on Monday night! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Peek at my Week

Peek at my Week:

Zig Bug book: All week we have been reading A Surprise for Zig Bug in our HM books. Made for 1st has the most adorable comprehension mini book to go along with it. They came out so cute!

Centers: Night Creature centers (Made for 1st) were this week and my wee ones had so much fun in word work. Snapshot of word work area:

Buddy reading: My cuties read Halloween books in the pumpkin bin to each other.

Listening: Pete the Cat was on the deck and my listening center could not have been more popular this week. All I heard was Pete the Cat's song this week...when they were listening, when they were writing about Pete, when they were buddy reading. My oh my they LOVE Pete and his shoes. (I just got the book and these others from my Scholastic order.)

Bats: We have definitely gone batty this weekend in writing and science. We have learned many cool bat facts from these fabulous books:
Then we created a tree map, first draft writing, revised, and a final copy with a craftivity of a bat! They also made a bat book. The kids were so proud of their work and all they have learned about bats.

 Look to the left I was so proud of my little buddy. He finished 5 sentences on his own. While reading his writing I thought this was funny.  "Insex" gosh I love phonetic spelling! 

Spiders: We learned a lot about spiders as well this week and will continue next week to learn about spiders. We watched this awesome powerpoint created by my team leader. My kids were so pumped because my team leader is one of my students mom's and they thought it was the coolest thing that his mom made something for our class. We also watched the Magic School Bus spider movie!

Math Centers:
Owl Number Order

Batty Bingo

* Can you tell I have a bloggy crush on Made for 1st?! They just make amazing products that go along with my curriculum so I use all their great ideas and want to give them credit where credit is due!

*Because it's Friday and I'm super thankful of all the great things that happened this week I'm giving you a freebie. It is a thanksgiving sight word game. Check it out!

Thankful freebie

* Since you are all awesome followers already I'll let you in on a secret. I'm having a giveaway very very soon for 300 followers. ( just 5 more followers to go) It's going to be a big one this time so check back for details!

Clutter-Free Classroom: A PEEK IN MY PLANBOOK WEEK IN REVIEW LINKY PARTY for week ending October 21st

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Halloween Decor {Pinterest Inspired}

I love Halloween! AlthoughI can't have a full out party at school for Halloween we are putting some fall decor and having fall/pumpkin centers. I have a Halloween party every year on my block. They close down the street and all the neighborhood kids come out for a costume contest, pumpkin seed estimation, dancing, and trick-or-treater. I'm doing some super cute things at home that are Pinterest Inspired that I wanted to share with you all! Maybe you could use some of these ideas at home or in the classroom!

Love this little sign! I'm putting this on my front door.

This is such a great idea! I will be having this "pumpkin juice" at my Halloween party. You could put sort of canned or bottled beverage in the pumpkin.

goofy pumpkins for pumpkin centers

These pumpkin faces just give me a smile and I'm going to be making some sort of pumpkin face/jack-o-lantern in class next week! 

Spider Suckers

These are super easy pipe cleaner tootsie pops! I'll be making these for my kiddos for Halloween! 

This could really be done for any fall party but it's especially cute for Halloween festivities! 

FREE Halloween Printables from Clickable Party
This site has a ton of free printables to make any party fun without being too spooky. 

Personalized Halloween Tub..I can totally make this!
This bucket is adorable to serve Trick-or-Treaters candy in or to put your Halloween books in your classroom. I love to spotlight themed books!

Mummy Lights- so cute!
How cute and easy are these mummy jars?! I will be lining my sidewalk with these!

Yay! Halloween!!
Mummies in a blanket! I love easy, fun food!

spider ice cubes
Make spider ice cubes for your drinks!

Wonderful way of Serving Guac.
I think this is a hilariously funny way to serve guacamole.

 Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes
I will be making these pumpkin cupcakes and some other cupcakes with orange and black sprinkles. 

Melon Brain by instructables (If you're into gruesome, plant a cleaver!) http://tinyurl.com/2g4eb3v  #Melon_Brain #Halloween

This melon brain is amazing! Not sure how you really eat it but it looks cool. 

Meet the Parents

Parent conferences are just around the corner for most teachers. We are slightly (understatement of the year) overwhelmed with bats, spiders, pumpkins, report cards, red ribbon week, character day parade, and parent conferences! So while you're thinking in your head..."yeah I know I've met the parent...I'll just put some stuff together for the student and be fine" take a step back and make sure you are prepared!

So what can you do when you meet those parents for report card conferences?

1. Make them comfortable! I know this seems like a silly one but make them feel welcome in your room. I always sit with my parents side by side for conferences because it feels more like your working together than if you sit in your teachers chair facing them.

2. Be prepared with all data and document. Have a folder ready for each conference filled with student samples, goals, tests, and books they've read. Show them samples and books that their child should be reading by the end of the year and where you want their chid to be academically by the next quarter. 

3. Have a clear plan in mind of goals for both reading and math. Let the parents voice their opinions in what they want their student to accomplish this year as well. Remember it is a partnership and if the parent feels like that they will be more willing to help out! 

4. Explain clearly all state standardized test and teacher lingo. Remember that not everyone has a degree in Education.

5. Make sure you have all special forms such as 504 plans, IEP's, ANI's (Academic Needs Information), and Reading Deficiency  letters ready to update and explain to parents.

Anyone have a any nightmares conferences? I told a parent that her student was below grade level but improving and making progress everyday (you know those kids who just need an extra push to get there....or a little more time). The mom burst out into tears telling me her family problems and how she tires to help him but she is so consumed in everything else going on in her life and she feels like this is her fault. She cried through the whole conference. I had a box of tissues for her and tried to keep the conversation on her child. Parents can be very tough to deal with but put your best foot forward and be super prepared for anything!

Happy Conferencing!

Here are some comments for report card and conferences to help you stay positive! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spooky Freebie!

I'm so excited to announce that I just made my first product ever and started a store at Teachers Pay Teachers! Since this is my first product it is a free download! Just head over to TPT here:

I started out with something really easy to make and called it the Spooky Sight Word game. I will be making products for centers, reading, and enrichment time. Please download this freebie, consider being a follower of mine on TPT and give me some feedback! I'm really looking forward to starting something new with my blog and teaching!

Enjoy your weekend!

Dress Up

Who doesn't love a good dress up party?! Reagan over at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits wants to find out what you are dressing up as for Halloween at your school. This year I'm not sure what I will be but hopefully I can find some helpful ideas through this linky party.

My first year of teaching I was a cowgirl and my sweet Kinders dressed up and we had a fun parade around the school. We did all sorts of fun Halloween games and had special spooky snacks.

Then I moved to a stricter district where you aren't allowed to dress up for Halloween so they do a character day which is usually the day before actual Halloween. The past few years I haven't had to worry about Halloween at school because it was a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. We always get that Friday on the last week of October off for a teacher workday because of report cards. So if you're done with report cards you are good to leave and enjoy your day. Anyways back to costumes. My second year I dressed up on character day as Junie B. Jones which was a huge hit in first grade. We paraded around the school in our costumes with our books. Then we had a pumpkin day where we had all sorts of educational fun with pumpkins and even carved one!

My third year was much the same except I dressed up as The Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. I thought this was great but some people didn't know what I was without looking at my book. I looked like a little old lady, had a cane, floppy hat, glasses, and on my stomach were all the things the little old lady swallowed. I searched and searched but I can't find a picture of it anywhere.

This year we have a character parade on the Wednesday before Halloween and we're doing fun fall centers after the parade. I'm not sure why they didn't just schedule it on Halloween but hey no one asked for my advice. On Halloween we are just supposed to pretend like it's not a big deal and go about our regular business (insert tons of laughing here) because that is just not really possible with elementary school kids. The students are not allowed to wear their costumes this day either. Here's a big kicker too...are principal is doing informal observations this week. Really?! Not a great idea! But again no one asked for my opinion. I'll still be having pumpkin fun and making everything educational.

So now that you've read my ramblings about dressing up for Halloween I think you should join up!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


My school does enrichment/intervention every day for 30 minutes. We group our student according to ability and have them switch classes. We have three different groups: above grade level, on grade level, and below grade level. We have 9 teachers on the first grade team and each teacher is in a group of three. So I am in a group with two other teachers and I teach the on grade level students. My students only switch with the teachers in my group and I keep my on grade level students. Now this all sounds great-students are group by ability and are challenged in the above grade level group and getting interventions in the below level group.

The on grade level group my group is getting tricky though. I don't want to do the same thing I do in my class with my group. I am trying to plan fun activities like bingo and center games. We have been focusing on short vowels. I just don't feel like I'm exactly enriching their learning though. I feel like I'm at a lost for materials in which to enrich them even though I have a ton of games and resources on grade level. I want to do guided reading groups but with only 30 minutes I'm not sure how I could work this out. I was thinking about doing 2 guided reading groups a day and the other kids are working in centers. The other problem is I don't want to use the same guided reading books I use during my regular guided reading time. I don't have enough other books to really do guided reading with though. Any suggestions on what I should do? I don't want to try to re-create the wheel on this but I'm thinking of making my own materials for this enrichment time. Would others be interested in materials for enrichment time as well?

Another bone I have to pick with the enrichment time is that it's first thing in the morning. School starts at 8:45 and enrichment starts at 9:00. My students and I are struggling to unpack, organize, and get ready for the morning. You know there are a million things going on at once. All the students come in unpack, write down their homework, get their homework that's due out, do the lunch count, attendance, morning announcements, and other things that tend to just crop up in the morning. Heaven forbid a student comes in late....they'll be in a rush and trying to catch up with everything after enrichment time.

Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Peek at my Week

Hola friends!   Did you know it is Hispanic Heritage month? Also I love saying Hola! We are finding ways to celebrate along with the dozen other things going on this month like Red Ribbon Week, Wellness Week,  character day, Halloween (on a Monday-seriously calendar), Breast Cancer Awareness (the whole town goes pink one day), Fire Safety and fall in general. Whoa I'm tired just typing it but hey let's take a peek into my week at school!

Reading: We read a lot of fall books this week but our main focus was on the story A Party For Bob. It's part of the HM reading series and was our main selection this week. We also have been reading Junie B. Jones Toothless Wonder and it is perfect right now because I have 4 students who are all missing their two front teeth. One just could not leave his tooth alone all afternoon...gross blood was all in his mouth and dripped on his desk! I had to tell me cutie to clean it up and either yank the tooth out or stop playing with it. He yanked it out and I think the whole class was relieved. We read a pome Leaves, Leaves that goes to the tune of Row Your Boat and my kids loved it so much they couldn't stop singing it. It has been in our heads all week! I even woke up singing it this morning! It does get you in the fall mood though!

Centers: We had some super fun centers this week. I'll just tell you about the Word Work ones since it is the only center that changes.
Monday: The students stamped their spelling words. This never gets old to them and I'm happy about that.
Tuesday: The students focused on their Fry sight words and played the game Bang!
Wednesday: The students had to sort short /o/ words into the correct spiders webs. Check this out on The First Grade Parade.
Thursday: The students had to unscramble sentences and then write the sentences. This takes my students forever....which would be great if we had all the time in the world but we don't. Anyone using this that knows how to make this a little faster? I think the more they do it the faster they will get. I love this activity from Made for 1st Grade's Resource Pack- go check it out!

Friday: An array of games we have already played in Word Work. Students got to choose their favorite game and play.

Listening is always a favorite center! I just introduced responding to our listening this week. This little friend listened to The Big Ripe Strawberry and The Big Hungry Bear one of my favorite books and writing about her favorite part and illustrating a picture.

Writing: We started to write about fall using a thinking map. Then we learned about setting, characters, problems and solutions that need to go into a story. We made our own fall story up together as a class. After the students made up their own fall stories and illustrated their pictures. Today we shared our stories in the author's chair. Some of my kids love the author's chair and reading their writing. Others don't want to share which I'm okay with but it was some of my most outgoing kids that got really shy all of sudden in front of our class. I had to reassure them it was a completely safe environment to read your writing. I have my active listeners name one thing they liked about the story, one way to improve the story (put a title, add more detail, make names for your characters...nothing too harsh...my kids were
really good at saying gently how they could improve), and then another thing they liked about the story.

Math: In math we worked on doubles and near doubles. I think that near doubles is a great strategy for students who really understand doubles but some of my wee ones just did not get it. I explained again but let them use their own strategy to add. This week our math game was Spill the Beans and boy was that fun! I used cans, regular counters, and white board markers so they could do it again and again without making million copies. This was such a hit they want to play it again next week...I have other games in mind though. My students do 4 centers each day in math.
Math facts-on the computer
At your seat-seat work from the lesson
Teacher-come to me to do guided math and take a mini quiz
Hands on-games
This has worked out really well this year! I did this last year but this year I got cute math workshop signs from Clutter Free Classroom check them out here.

Science: We explored magnets this week and talked poles and how they attract and repel. I wish I had a picture of the magnetic hands on fun we had but my phone died so I don't have any. We made predictions on which items: paperclips, marble, penny, soda can, foil, and a button would be magentic. Each student got a turn to use a magnetic wand to see if the items were magnetic. The kids had so much fun with this!

Social Stuides: Our character trait of the month is cooperation and we did a fun lesson on Peacemakers and Peacebreakers- another blog idea to check out and our guidance counselor came in to do a fun lesson about cooperation with my class. Today I told my students to make a circle together and they were so cute saying we need to cooperate together to make a circle and they held hands, stretched out, and made a neat little circle of firsties. Only one student tried to not cooperate and said he wanted to be in the middle but as soon as his friends called him out on not using cooperation with our class he was out of the circle in a second. Got to love first grade!

Mystery Reader: Our mystery reader left us 5 clues that were pretty tough.
1. I love to travel with my family.
2. I have 2 sons and a husband who I love.
3. I love watching college football.
4. I have 2 pets a dog and a hamster.
5. I love to read books!
My kids are great at knowing our staff though and figured out on Thursday and Friday who they thought it might be: our librarian! This week I didn't get any crazy guesses like an elf- just regular guess to who it might be which means we are really learning how to make good predictions and infer!

Our librarian read to our class one of my favorite October books. It was so fun! She came in dressed in a hat and "fall" clothes. If you aren't familiar with the story the lady says she isn't afraid of anything and mysterious items such as boots, pants, a shirt, gloves, a hat, and a pumpkin head follow her and in the end she makes a scarecrow out of them. My students loved following along in the story and stomping for the boots, wiggling for the pants, shaking for the shirt, clapping for the gloves, nodding for the hat, and saying Boo! for the pumpkin head. We had a great time participating in the story and even got reading rocks silly bands at the end!

Check back next week- it will be all about Fire Safety! Have a beautiful fall weekend!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October Must Reads


These are some of my favorite reads for October. I love books and I'm sure I'll find more favorite books in my Scholastic order for October and ones I'm forgetting in my classroom library. These are some books on my must read list for October. Find more great October books through Learning With Mrs. Parker.