Sunday, July 29, 2012

Getting Ready and an Award

Well, it's first day of work. I go back on Tuesday. I always have mixed feelings about this. I like getting back into a routine and the excitement of a new school year, BUT I miss the lazy summer days with my family, especially my kids. I'm blessed in so many ways because my school is five minutes from my house (past a few farms, some cows, and a couple of fields), and there is a nursery on site. I know how lucky can a girl get? The whole family is in one spot! Having everyone close does make it easier, but I still miss spending time with those crazies!

Little brother on his hand-me-down big wheel.
With school starting I've been hard at work trying to get myself organized. I've spent some time at school, but I try to finish what I can at home first. This way my little shadows can continue to soak up some summer fun.

Soooo, my room is still a mess. No pictures please. I have crossed several things of my to do list though: science and social studies pacing guides, my year plan, printing/laminating/cutting my word walls, pirate numbers, and calendar/math focus pieces. I've also dressed up some power verbs for my room.

What? Last year our county decided the students needed to be familiar with the verbage used on standardized tests. When they evaluated us they wanted these words used in our lessons. These words are: analyze, categorize, examine, explain, justify, prove, summarize, compose, relevant, irrelevant, predict, compare, and contrast.

These can be difficult words for primary students to grab onto, so the teacher down the hall from me had a brain wave and made posters for each word with the definition. She hung these in the room to remind her to use them and to help the students remember them. I loved the idea, so I've dressed them up in pirate gear to match my room.

They will become my Pirate Words of the Week and I'll introduce them one at a time until my firsties have them down. Then they will be posted in the room as a little reminder. What do you think?

And now for the reward....

While I was two-steppin' in Nashville at the DFA YC Southeast Dairy Conference (loads of fun, lots of dairy info about stuff like milk prices, cheese, cows, grazing, you get the idea), I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by Laugh Live Love Learn, Crazy Daze in 1st Grade, and Smiling and Shining in Second Grade.

         Crazy Daze in First Grade      Laugh Live Love LEARN

Now, its my turn. Here are the rules...
  1. Follow the person who gave you the award.
  2. Link back to the person who gave you the award.
  3. Pass the award on to at least 5 new bloggers.
Here are my nominees...
Mrs. Johnson's First Grade
Peace, Love, & First Grade


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lord of the Flies and Another Award

It is that time of the year when my children, my most precious possessions, are left to their own devices. They revert back to the tribal ways of our ancestors, scavenging for food, wrapping themselves in strips of clothing, and fighting to rule the house (or what's left of it when they are done). I'm happy to say that 1) the 18 month old has held his own and still remains on top, and 2) they are coming through the ordeal just fine.

Boss in his barn boots. Not sure what he's planning...

If you are not a teacher, you might wonder what is going on at my house, but if you are then you smile and nod. You know, because the same thing is happening, or has happened, at your house.

I'm going crazy trying to pull everything together. The kiddos come back Aug. 8, but work officially starts July 31. I really want my stuff done before the year's to do lists start rolling in. Help!!

I have managed to complete a few projects:

Do you know that Weather Chart that has been going around Pinterest?

Well, I finally made mine with the help of Rowdy in Room 300 (click the picture to grab yours). I also made my own weather graph that matched so my kiddos would have a weather graph in their Calendar Journals. You can grab your copy here. I also put together my Calendar flipchart complete with math stretch templates and problem of the day. 

Then staying on the subject of Guided Math, I created a teeny tiny Guided Math book to keep me organized during small groups on conferences. 

 I've got my Weekly Schedule in there (because I need a little road map when planning), a Quick Planner for Math Workstations, and Guided Math Lesson Plan that I grabbed from Thinking of Teaching. Click on over to grab your own copy! I also made a conference sheet to take with me. I wanted one sheet that could hold all of my students so that I could have all my info in one place. Click here to grab it for yourself. 

Now I'm working on finishing up my Pirate Communication Folders that I grabbed from Jodi Southard from Fun in First. At $3.00 they are a steal and completely editable. She has several styles. My teaching partners purchased the Peace Communication Folder because they liked mine so much. Check them out here

Rumor has it that there is a big sale is coming soon. My fingers are crossed because my wishlist is busting at the seams!

But for the best news...I was nominated for another award. I can't believe it!

Thank you so much to Katherine at Blessings of Teaching for making my day. In all the craziness this was great! This award is named for the German word "liebster", which translates to "beloved" or "favorite" and is given to a "new and upcoming blogger."

Here are the rules:

  1. Link back to the person who gave it to you. 
  2. Post the award to your blog. 
  3. Give the award to at least 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
  4.  Leave a comment on the five blogs letting them know that they have been offered the award.
So here are my nominations. These are great blogs. You really should check them out. 


Monday, July 23, 2012

A Blog Hop and an Award

Two exciting things today:
 1) I'm joining my first ever blog hop!
 2) I was nominated for my first ever award!

  Grade Three is the Place for Me!     is hosting a   

So, let's see, I need to tell you:

What state I live in...
 1. I live in the good 'ole Volunteer State of Tennessee. current teaching position
 2. I teach first grade and I love it! teaching experience
3. I taught 7th grade Language Arts (Reading & Writing) & Social Studies for 3 years. Then I bumped down to 4th grade for two years. Finally, I scooted on down to 1st grade where I've been for 7 years. I've also been the Curriculum and Instructional coach for K-4 in my building for 4 years.

...when I started blogging
 4. I started a family blog in 2011 after number 3 (known here as The Boss) was born. I didn't start my teacher blog though until...hmm...the last week of June. So that would be about 4 weeks ago. Yeah, a newbie!

...and share a blogging tip / blogging resource.
 5. When I set up my blog, I stumbled upon the FREE blog templates and backgrounds of Leelou Blogs, Shabby Blogs, and The Cutest Blog on the Block. Between the tutorials and free material the find was a lifesaver in setting up this blog and dressing up my family blog. If you are thinking of starting a blog, check them out!

Now for my second exciting thing. I've been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award! Thanks goes to Scrappy Teaching in FL for this nomination (and the above Newbie Blog Hop where she found me).

Now it my turn to nominate!

Versatile Blogger Award:
  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you. 
  2. Include a link to their site.
  3. Include the award image in your post.
  4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5 - 10 other bloggers, include their link,  and let them know.
All right, I can check off the top 3. Now to tackle the #4 and #5.

7 Random Facts About Me
  1. I'm the oldest of ten. Yes, I have nine siblings and they are all crazy enough to be interesting. Imagine the get togethers!
  2. I adore Science Fiction/Fantasy. One of my favorite series is Firefly. Heard of it? 
  3. One of my favorite authors is Jane Austen, and one of my favorite books is Stardust by Neil Gamian.
  4. I'm married to a dairy farmer. No, I don't milk the cows. There is a guy for that. Yes, I have had plans rearranged because of cows that decided to go for a walkabout or augers that decide to break.
  5. I like to write and have been working on a story for...let's just say a long time. I squeeze in time between teaching, blogging, children, home, etc. Yeah...
  6. My husband was the fire under my tooshy to get me blogging. He is a social media nut (yeah, and a farmer...odd combo). He has two blogs Silo Skies and The Udder Side.
  7. I loved to act when I was younger and had dreams of becoming an actress. I told my parents that I was going to graduate high school and move to NYC. My brother ended up in NYC and I ended up on a dairy farm, but I put on the best show for ten months every year...six and seven year olds love it!!
Now for my nominations...

First Grade Found Me


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Common Core Dreams

So last night I dreamed about common core. Let me be clearer...I had a nightmare about common core. A storm blew in waking my baby up 3 times (yeah, that was a nightmare too...but that's another blog). I would get him to sleep and BAM! I was right back in the middle of the nightmare.
There they evaluation team. Not the normal evaluators, but a team of robotic like scientists bent on common core perfection. The evaluation team flaunting their plain, white lab coats and ugly, brown clipboards walking through my HOUSE! Yes, common core had invaded my house. They strolled through my house scribbling notes, nodding heads, and pointing to my treasured items.

"Those pictures, yep, not common core. Must come down."

"That rug, definately not common core. Get rid of it."

"The toys, nah, don't think so. Have to go."

I nodded my head like a bobble head agreeing to everything they said. It was crazy!

Any other person would think I'm making this up, but you know I'm not because I bet you've had the common core dream too.

I know mine was brought on by my immersion into the beast as I made pacing guides and researched. Then when I found out first grade was going to be tested next year, that sealed it. I went to bed wondering how I was going to get my firsties ready for the test. I knew the vocabulary would get them before the information did. What was I going to do?

Thankfully, I stumbled upon a Common Core Word Wall by Anna Brantley (I love her stuff!). Click the picture below to check it out yourself.

                                            First Grade Common Core & More Content Word Wall

It includes language arts and math of course, but what really got me excited was this little sentence:

"I will add the science and social studies vocabulary cards as soon as they are released."

How wonderful! I'm loving the idea of using this word wall this year.

So, how are you getting ready for Common Core? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Getting Organized

Soooooo, you've mapped out your curriculum and you're feeling a little sassy about it. Then you turn and see the long to do list and your sassy flees in panic.

Don't run away! Stay on course and do one thing at a time.

Step one - Get your year organized. Done, you now have a map of your year and you can breathe because you know that everything will be covered in time. Whew!

Step 2 - Get yourself organized.

It is a priority thing. The most important thing is that you cover the standards in an efficient and productive way. Then, you have to make sure that you are mentally and physically prepared for the year. There is a lot to keep up with and you need to be ready. Those children won't teach themselves (Interesting thought though. Wonder how that would look???)

Last year, I was coming back from a long maternity leave and skipped this step because I felt rushed to get ready. BAD IDEA! In payment for impatience, I spent the whole year juggling file folders and little slips of paper wondering if I was losing my mind. I was the Curriculum and Instruction coach for K-5 as well as teaching first grade and helping with the school play. This is also the year we introduced data, data, data and common core. That was quite a bit of paper people.

This year I'm not skipping steps. I've put together my teacher planner to match my classroom theme...PIRATES! How fun. And because I had so much fun creating mine, I just had to create one for each of my partners. Click the pictures below to get your copy. Each picture links to its own document.

1. My schedule goes in the front.
2. Student information comes next (class list, birthdays, passwords, lunch ids, transportation info, emergency #'s)
3. Monthly Calendar Pages (Year long calendar with holidays, etc marked, district calendar, calendar pages)
4. Staff and Team Meetings (paper to take notes, important staff #'s)
5. Common Core Standards (pacing guides, I can statements)
6. Curriculum planning (my passwords for district websites,  technology help sheets)

7. Miscellaneous (blackline masters I use every week, whatever...)
8. Lesson Plans
9. Grade Book
10. Data Book (new for me...thinking current data for the class - STAR Reading, STAR Math, DIBELS, Fluency Logs, Discovery Math, Discovery Reading)

Now I have a one stop notebook that goes everywhere with me and has everything I need. Some may not need all the dividers. I tend to be both slightly OCD and slightly scatterbrained. Yes, it is annoying, so I plan for both states of mind.



Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Joys of Reading

I love teaching reading because I love to read, but it always seems to be the most daunting subject to plan for in first grade. So much is involved in turning fledgling readers into accomplished, "I can do it!" readers. Phonetics, phonemics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency all have to come together under the right conditions for the magic to occur. At times it feels as if I'm stirring together a witch's brew where one misplaced ingredient would cause the whole concoction to explode.

This never turns out well!

After teaching reading for several years and researching good reading practices, I would like to say that I have completely come to terms with reading instruction. Although I do feel more comfortable with it, I still have my panic moments, especially with my strugglers. I don't consider this a bad thing. I think any teacher worth their salt (as we say down south) should worry. No teacher wants to let their students down academically or otherwise. On the other hand, we shouldn't beat ourselves with the reading stick every time a student misses a word or gives you a blank stare when you ask them, "What is the setting of this story?"

This actually happened to me....during an one my brighter students...who liked to be noticed...who smiled when she said "What's that?" rendered me speechless...only for a moment...oh dear!

In other words, teach the five components of reading and teach them well. Document progress and change gears when necessary. Research ways to teach reading, talk to good reading teachers, and implement good reading strategies in your classroom. BUT keep in mind that reading really is developmental. Consider yourself, your reading skills are still developing. You will never stop learning how to read and understand literature better. Reading, like math, is a skill that builds and grows with you. The same is true for our little buddies. Give them time and trust your teacher's gut. 

With that said, here is my pacing guide for this year. I can't teach without a guide especially in reading which can feel so random as you move through the different skills. In our district, we use Scotts Foresman Reading Street basal. My plan is to incorporate our basal into the Daily Five. My thought is that the basal stories would be good for Read to Someone and I can pull the activities for Word Work and Work on Writing from the skills presented that week. This will free me up to tackle more complicated texts during our shared reading or mini-lesson each day. What do you think? I would love your feedback as I'm always looking for better ways to teach reading.

Click the picture above to download

If you are considering doing Daily 5 in your classroom, you have to check into the Daily 5 book study going on this summer. I have loved it and the information has been invaluable. It has been wonderful to read and see how other teachers are interpreting Daily 5 in their classrooms. I have recommended it to several teachers at my school already.

Here is a link to Chapter 1
And another one that you might like

  You can also check out my Pinterest boards for more info about reading and the Daily 5. Just click the link at the top of the page. 

Happy reading!