Friday, July 25, 2014

First Day of School Activities Blog Hop!

Hello Everyone!

I am excited to be teaming up with a great group of bloggers and hosted by Mackenzie from
Brownbag Academics.  This blog hop will give you a number of great ideas that you can use right away on the first day of school. 
Brownbag Academics

Since the first day of school is very hectic for first graders, I always like to break up the long first few days with literature and craftivities that go along with the literature.

My favorite first day of school book is, "First Day Jitters" by Julie Danneberg. 

I start out by telling them how nervous I get on the first day of school, even though I am a teacher.  I will ask them to think to themselves about one reason they were nervous this morning coming to school.  I will then give them an opportunity to share with a partner near them, and then finally I will ask for volunteers to share their jitters coming to school this morning. 

Nancy Vandenberge over at firstgradewow.blogspot.com has a great resource that I use bits and pieces of.  You can get her 13 page download with activities HERE. 

Another activity I will conduct with my students is an I Have Who Has activity whole group.  I will have students pick sticks for partners (their partner will have the same sticker on their stick) and they will share a card.  I will give them time to figure out the words together before starting the activity whole group.

I have the complete short and long vowel packet in my store HERE!!  You can also get the Freebie version of just the short /a/ activity as my store featured download freebie HERE

I always start teaching mathematics the first day of school and one activity students love is this one were they roll a die or dice (depending on grade level) and then practice writing the quantity of number in circle groups of 5 and leftovers.  Building this understand of the quantity of 5 will help ensure they meet the end of the first grade goal of fluency of numbers w/in 10.

Get your copy of this activity HERE  Once we work on this in class then I will send another copy home with my students to get in the habit early of learning at home.  The fact that we have already practiced during the school day will increase the likelihood they will actually do the homework because they already know what is expected of them. 

Finally, since it is so important to work on classroom expectations starting on day 1, I am going to share my Whole Brain Teaching rule cards I created for my classroom.  If you have not tried this method of classroom management then you are missing out!!  I love trying new things in my classroom as long as they work and when I tried the Whole Brain Teaching last school year, my whole classroom management was so much more manageable.  For more information about this FREE resource click HERE.

To get a free copy of these 5 rules to display in your classroom please click HERE

Check out what other teachers are doing on their first days of school below by clicking on their links.  This is a wonderful opportunity for you to get a few steps ahead before your school year starts!



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Simple Instructional Strategies Guarenteed Success in Mathematics

With new educational research coming out all the time, I have found 5 staples of math instruction that applies to any math curriculum as well as any grade level!

 Make sure the students are doing the thinking!!! 
  • DO NOT think for your students!
  • DO NOT tell your students too much!
  • Whenever you feel like telling your students something during a lesson, ask a question instead.





Listen to what your students are saying, not just what you hope to hear!!
  • Ask questions to determine what they are really understanding.  Have your students "defend" their answers.  If you work hard at this at the beginning of the school year, then this will quickly become a wonderful habit!


Partner Talk or Math Talk is a MUST!

Slow down your math activities and give each child a chance to share.  I know that in the lower primary grades I have found success in partner shares.  This way all students have a chance to talk.  Once students have a chance to share with their partners, then I will discuss the strategies whole group. 
  • This method works in many ways.  Shy or anxious students may just get enough confidence they need to volunteer in front of the class and  students get a chance to talk through their strategies before sharing to catch any mistakes.  Students can also share out what their partner said to them.  This is another great way to dig deeper into the problem.


Be patient with your students!
  • We all mean well when we jump in to save students, but this hurts students in the long run.  They will learn quickly that teachers will do the thinking for them and that they do not even need to try.  Review the first tip I gave you about ask a question instead of telling.

 




Always Assess!!
  • Assessment should not be something that is only conducted at the end of a topic.  Assessment should be ongoing, quick, easy, and specific.  Exit slips, whiteboards, or math journals are just a few simple ways to assess the progress of your students.  This data should be the driving force of your future instruction.
 
Here is an quick and easy way to use exit slips.  Make a form like this one, or use this one if you wish by clicking HERE!!   Clip art border provided by Dots of Fun and the font provided by KG Fonts. 


If my students are struggling with using the making 10 concept then I would create a problem for them that enables them to practice using that strategy.  I may need to tell them to use that strategy OR I can just give them the problem to see if they use that strategy. 

Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Would you ever consider a job change?

It has been a stressful  the last couple months trying to decide if a job change was what I needed if I was going to stay in the teaching profession.  The classroom is getting more and more challenging and I feel that I do not have the support and resources needed to effectively meet the needs of ALL my students.  Behavior needs, learning needs, emotional needs, and curricular needs are just a few reasons I have felt like a failure the last two years.

  Have I met the majority of needs of my students? Absolutely, but what bothers me are the students I know need extra help, yet the system we need to go through that basically just delays the inevitable. These students needed help that was not provided due to not enough "data."  Data is something I believe in, but when a first grader cannot write their name, cannot rhyme, and forgets where the bathroom is then do we really wait 18 weeks to decide if they need intensive instruction? 

Anyway,  I have made the jump into a new position.  I took a job as an elementary interventionist in a new district recently.  I will be able to work with the student population that I want to help most, the struggling learner.  I am excited to be able to teach both reading and mathematics so if I do have that urge to go back to the classroom then I would be able to do so.  I am nervous to start this new chapter in my life, but sometimes change is good....



See this product in my store by clicking : Back to School Math and Literacy
In order to celebrate my new journey, I would like to host a giveaway.  I would like to choose two people to win my 77 page, 16 activity Back to School math and literacy packet (above)that has great activities that will fit in perfectly for the first few weeks of school.  All of my products are classroom tested and kid approved!  I aim to create low prep, engaging, and interactive activities that are common core aligned.   To win this product just comment here telling me why you would like to win this product and list an email where I can send the product if you are chosen to win.  If you are not chosen I will have this product in my store for only $4.00 until Friday (normally $8.50!!).  I will announce a winner late tomorrow night (Thursday).

Please do not hesitate to sign up to follow my blog, Facebook page, Pinterest, and my Teachers pay Teachers store so you do not miss out on my future giveaways and discount products.  Here is the business card I recently created:
 
Front of the card


Back of the card with QR code links to my Pinterest, Blog, Facebook Page, and TpT store.
 


Thanks and take care,

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Experience at the TpT Conference in VEGAS!!!!

I want to start out by saying that I am not one to spend money on wants v. needs.  I put each and every one of my family member's needs ahead of my own...... Until 6 weeks ago when I begged/convinced my husband that I needed to go to the TpT conference in Vegas.  Did I need to go? Absolutely not, but I wanted to go so bad.  I even booked a flight that flied out late Thursday night and flew back late Friday night and of course prepped meals so my husband would have next to no effort feeding my children.  



My first session was with THE Deanna Jump and DeeDee Wills.   I cannot tell you how friendly, bubbly, and down to earth these two are!  I wanted to get seats up front so I could see and I ended up sitting behind Erica Bohrer (my idol creator)!!!!! Other big $$ sellers were also right in front of ME!  This session taught me that I need to go through my older products and make updates. I knew I needed to do this, but when Deanna and DeeDee tell me then the motivation magically appears : ).  I know the picture is not the best, but Deanna moves constantly when she presents and this was the best picture I could get. Bless her though, because so many people came up to her and asked for pictures and she never once hesitated when she agreed.  


Session 2 was with Laura Candler, The Facebook Master.  I do have a Facebook page, but after listening to Laura I know that I need to take more time posting to help increase my sales.  I have been absent for a few hectic months and I am energized and ready to make more of a commitment!!  I could not get a good picture of Laura due to where I was sitting, but I learned so much in this session.  She also the current Facebook changes and how few people your posts actually reach only 5% of your followers.  Quality posts will be shared by others and that is how you reach a greater audience. 



My third session was with Rachel Lynette ( soon to be the next teacher millionaire!!).  Where do I start? Rachel is a fun, tell it how it is kind of person!  She is very entertaining and very knowledgable.  She talked about smart marketing (direct and indirect marketing), attracting buyers to your store,  and effective networking.


Erin Cobb ( imlovinlit.com )of I'm Lovin Lit was the last presenter I saw.  She attracted me to her session because she has only been selling since April 2013 and is already one of the top sellers!! She handed out pens and a CD with a variety of clip art and origanizational documents. Erin is absolutely amazing and the fact that her husband quit his job to support her and to be Mr. Mom is heartwarming.  Her story is very inspirational and gave me hope that maybe I can do better than I am now, but not without hard work. 

I met so many wonderful people in just one day that I really wish I could have went back another day.  The number of people I met and talked to was so unbelievable.  I felt so welcome, even though I did not know a single person there I certainly left with the start of many friendships.  

Here are three names and blogs of some special and wonderful people I met:
Michelle Lenahan of Lendahand's Printables : www.lendahandsprintipals.blogspot.com
If you teach from the reading street reading curriculum then you do not want to miss her store. Colorful and creative products that align to the Common Core!  Just click on the TpT link from her blog.

Donna Boucher of Math Coach's Corner: mathcoachscorner.blogspot.com
When I met Donna it was like I have died and went to heaven!! Her products are amazing and I have been following her for a while now.  She was attending another conference in Vegas and came to the keynote speech. She happened to sit right by me and we hit it off right away.  I honestly do not believe she gets nearly enough credit she deserves. 

Erica Bohrer of Erica's Edventures, ericabohrer.bolgspot.com 
I am sure you all know her by name, but if you have not checked out her blog postings or products then you should.  She is not the biggest name out there, but she knows a lot about everything (curriculum, design, technology....). She is teeny tiny and so very sweet. I approached her to say hello, and we ended up taking about the sessions we went to that day.  








Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Currently

Hello once again and Happy April Fools Day!

I am always in such a good mood the eve of April 2nd.  I love my first graders, but if I have to listen to my students tell me that I am the meanest teacher ever or that I am the worst teacher they ever had and then say, "APRIL FOOLS."  I guess it could be worse and they could tell me that I am their favorite teacher ever and then say, "April Fools!" :). 

I am linking up today with Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for the April version of Currently.  Here we go:

LIISTENING:
My son (almost 5) and youngest daughter (2 going on 11) are only two years apart and alike in many, many ways.  Tonight they are arguing about who wants what for their birthdays that are coming up.  Addalyn is teasing Easton about how toys he wanted are "girl" toys and Easton just is having one meltdown after another. 

LOVING
I am officially signed up for the TpT sellers conference in Vegas this July.  I already know that Vegas in July is like Alaska in January, but so many successful sellers will be there,  Erica Bohrer, Deanna Jump, and Cara Carroll.  Early bird sign up ends Friday if you are interested. 

THINKING
Being observed tomorrow as well as video taping my math lesson.  I love challenging myself when it comes to teaching and what better way than to have my principal observe me while I am being videotaped :).

WANTING
We purchased this house in September last year, replaced everything, and now have it listed for rent.  We are in the process of scheduling showings and so far we have had 35 people showing interest.  We have it narrowed down to 3 people. 

NEEDING
The weather in Wisconsin has been rough this winter.  Cold, cold, and more cold.  Each day is the same.  We had two days of 50+ degrees and then today was 30 degrees and 20 miles an hour.  Depressing.........

HOURS
I am contracted to be at school from 8:00-3:45 each day, but I like to get to school before 7am to make sure I have everything ready and there are not any lines at the copy machine or laminator!  After adding on two make up school days we will get out of school June 12 with students and June 13 for teachers. 

Well, that is all for today.  We have our 120 day of first grade celebration on Thursday and I will be back to post pictures later this week!

Thanks!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March Currently

I would say that March is coming in like a lion here in Wisconsin.  I cannot remember when the temperature was above zero with the wind chill and when it is above zero we are getting dumped on with a snowstorm.  My children went to play outside today and the younger two got stuck in the snow because it is past their hips.....  I keep telling myself that it can only get warmer, I hope :).

I am a day late, but I am joining Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade with this month's currently post:



Duck Dynasty just cracks me up!  I love the humor on the show and how close the family is. 

I just finished up a math packet for TPT for the 120th day of first grade.  Our grade level chose to celebrate the 120th day of school.  This is going to work well for me since our 100th day of school always ended up w/in a day of Valentine's day.  One celebration a month is more than enough for me- Ha :). 
Find this on TPT
I am trying to create all of my Daily 5 centers for next month.  My students need more of a writing focus so I am trying to come up with fun writing activities.  I am also thinking of long vowel patterns, ABC order, noun v. verb v. adjective, and more of a sight word focus than I normally do.  Stay tuned......

We are going on a week of sickness in my household and my middle child still has not been sick yet.  I hope he is still healthy through tomorrow because he is getting tubes in his ears tomorrow morning.  He has had ear infection since December and antibiotics are not helping.  The poor kid cannot hear a thing with all that fluid in his ear.  I am praying this is the answer.
The sickness is 4 days worth of feeling miserable- fever, awful cough, and ear pain.  I am amazed at how little sleep I can actually function on :).

Spring Break is coming in a few weeks and I need that time to get my house in order.  We are close to finally getting a new bathroom!  I am also planning on organizing all the clothes and toys we are getting rid of this summer in a thrift sale. 

Have a great week! 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Five for Friday


I am going to sound like a broken record, but I am once again apologizing for not posting more this school year.  I have this obsession of creating every extension lesson I do and that has taken a lot of my extra time. 

Well, it is Friday and another cold one at that.  I am going to start with my 5 for Friday from Kasey over at  Doodle Bugs Teaching


 
1.  I cannot believe this weather here in Wisconsin!!  We have been freezing all month.  Only 3 days of school called off this month, but only because we need the wind chill temp to be below -30 before school is called off.  I can honestly tell you that we have had about 10 days where the temp at the start of the day was between -25 and -29.  The other day it got up to 18 above zero and it seriously felt like a beautiful day.  I can only hope that the groundhog does not see his shadow this weekend :). 

2.  I mentioned my obsession with creating products to fit the needs of my current students.  Most of my efforts are towards math since many of my students struggle to get excited about math at the beginning of the school year.  My goal is to make learning and understanding our first grade learning concepts both fun and interactive. 

Pretzels used as sticks of ten and Fruit Loops used as ones to practice adding groups of ten and ones. 

My students loved this game working on a variety of different way to practice fluency in numbers to ten.  I saw this game in from Sandy Atkins and made my own dominos and recording sheets.  I am currently working on a new TpT product that has a variety of interactive games to practice this important concept.  I always send these activities home for parents to play with their child as well. 

3.  My daughter Madisyn has started competing in swim meets this season as a 7 year old.  I have to tell you that I think watching those 8 and under swimmers swim is one of the cutest things ever!  She has a great stroke for a first year swimmer, but will not listen to a word of coaching I have to say, despite the 15 years of coaching I have.......


Game Face!

So nervous for her first race!






Top swimmer





4.  I am piloting a new math program this school year before rolling out this program to the whole district next year.  Has anyone used the newest version of Math Expressions?  This math program is so impressive and best of all covers all the standards of the Common Core.  Our last math program lacked the fact fluency piece and Expressions hits it right where students need it. 

5.  I have posted two new products this past month.  The first product contains 11 ELA activities:

The second product contains 11 Math Centers/Activities all aligned to the common core. 
I am going to continue to post a free product I have created.  This product is a sample of my new Emergent reader product.  This product will help your students practice most of the pre-primer Dolch sight words in a fun and interactive way.  Click on the link below the picture for a sample of this product.   


Happy Friday and find time to enjoy the weekend :).