Thursday, September 29, 2011

What I'm Loving ... Thursday?

I just realized it isn't Wednesday. I mean, I knew it all day, but the whole way home from school I was thinking about what to write for WILW this week. Apparently it's Thursday so today it is WILT!! Wilt!
I'm loving my class, again. They're a handful and we have a lot of emotions running through our 12 little bodies, but they are funny and I like being their teacher. Today, as I was setting my phone timer for an activity in Math, the first graders asked if I was calling my boyfriend. I said, "Why would I call him now? We are in the middle of math!" And one girl said, "You could call him and say, 'I'm teaching the kids! Don't talk to me!'" (said in a very angry voice). They make me laugh a lot.

I'm loving the baby steps I'm taking towards Math Work Stations! Finally! It only took 32 days of school!! I want to have my management board set up by Monday because I forgot to finish taking pictures of the kids. So far I have 3 stations set up, so over the weekend I should come up with 3 more so they can have a little variety in their lives. I will keep you all posted because today we (sort of) did them and it worked out really well! Except - I have an odd number of first graders and an odd number of second graders. Do you all make groups of 3? Because my groups of 2 worked together way better than my groups of 3, but I don't want to isolate anybody... hmm.

I'm loving that I learned how to use the little laminator at school today! Now I understand why everyone loves personal laminators. I think I should probably buy my own sleeves so that I don't get yelled at for depleting the resources.
I'm loving the post office down the street from my school! Our class is participating in the postcard exchange hosted by Primary Graffiti and The Techy Teacher, and today I called to see if my class could take a field trip there next week so we can be more invested in our postcard sending. They were cool with it and we're going in a week! There are definitely perks to teaching in a small town.
I'm loving Adventure to Fitness!!!!!!!! A lot!!!! Since I'm in a private school, I can't sign up because my school is not a choice. I've probably sent them 5 requests and they are just ignoring me. So, I asked my wonderful sister to sign up on my behalf and now my kids LOVE running with Mr. Marc! We've already had 3 days worth of indoor recess this week and this has saved me in a huge way.
I'm loving these super cute apples we made yesterday!
I got the idea from The First Grade Parade. It was really easy (I used contact paper) and the kids really liked it. Sadly we haven't had sun to shine through the tissue paper yet but they are so beautiful regardless. :)

I'm loving another thing about my students. They are really good at making up excuses for stuff in their own lives, so whenever something goes wrong in my room, they always come up with a reason for it. For example, we watched a little video about the planets today, and the audio kept skipping. It was super annoying. One of the kids was like, "It's fine, it's just because the planets are so far from the radio tower." I was like, "..... I'm sure that's it." They never get upset about anything! It is so funny.

Oh - I need a bit of advice. I have a student who literally will not do anything unless I stand there and tell him to. Like, he won't even write his name on his paper unless I prompt him. Today we did dictation, and at the end I collected their papers, and he literally wrote nothing. The whole time! My first graders are very dependent as a whole, but this is confusing to me. Any words of wisdom??

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fantastic Ocean Books!

If I could teach every concept, all day long, every day, with children's books, I would! For whatever reason, my students are always SUPER engaged in books, where, if I sat there and said the same things to them, they would lose it. So children's books play a huge part in my teaching. I love them and so do my kiddos!!

When I student taught, I had to plan a major unit, and between my cooperating teacher and myself, we decided to do an ocean unit and pull it all together by going to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago!

We studied a different underwater animal each day, and I remember two books specifically that I loved using!

First, we have Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies.
My first graders LOVED THIS BOOK! There are no photographs of sharks, but the very detailed and cute illustrations serve as an appropriate substitute! Not only does this book include a ton of information on many different sharks, but it tries to combat the idea that we should be afraid of sharks by giving information about how many sharks are killed by humans every year. It's a super informative and fun book, and I think my library copy came with a CD?

And second, I liked A Safe Home for Manatees by Priscilla Belz Jenkins.
This book might be better suited for a habitats unit, as it describes how the habitat of the manatees in Florida has shrunken over the years. Again, it was very informative and child-appropriate. I like to read books about how people can really affect the world through situations like this. I want students to be concerned with things other than themselves... which can be tough sometimes. :)

Check out Teaching Blog Addict's Science Week linky party today to find more awesome science books!!
Science Week

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Versatiles and Versatile Bloggers!

I figured those two things go together, right?

First, over the summer I won a set of ten mini VersaTiles cases from ETA/Cuisenaire because I liked their facebook page. If you don't like them on facebook, you should go do it now! They have lots of giveaways and offer many free resources.
They asked the winners of the giveaway to post pictures of their students using the VersaTiles once school started. I just remembered the other day to take pictures, and I posted one today so I thought I'd share it with you too!
Luckily, one of the free VersaTiles pages on their website was for doubles, and that's what we worked on with second grade on Thursday. I think I'll have to make my own pages with their templates with all of my free time.........

Anyway, my second order of business here is the Versatile Blogger Award!!
I received this award from three lovely ladies!

Leslie from Jack of All Trades
Blog button
Jennifer from Rowdy in First Grade
and........ Nicole from The Kinder Kid!

You should for sure check out their blogs! They're all from different grade levels but they all have awesome ideas and are all-around the bomb dot com. :)

Since I won the Versatile Blogger Award, I need to share 7 things about myself and spread the love to 15 people! Here are my 7 things........
  1. In a week, I will start my second class of six to earn my ESL Endorsement! This class will be my methods and materials class, and I am SO EXCITED!!! Methods classes were always my absolute favorite in college. I'm really happy I decided to work towards my ESL endorsement because I am incredibly passionate about working with English Language Learners and ensuring that they get equal treatment in school and elsewhere. Equality and acceptance is super important to me.
  2. At my school, teachers can eat hot lunch for free and we can have free milks too! Since my class gets a morning milk break, I typically drink two chocolate milk cartons a day!! If I'm having a rough day, that chocolate milk is always there for me. So delicious! When I am old, I will probably have the strongest bones ever.
  3. I am not well-traveled. I have been to Florida for family vacations when I was little, and I've been to the San Diego area for family weddings in recent years, but there are many places that I want to go! Specifically, I want to go to San Francisco and Washington D.C. Also I am obsessed with southern California so I would like to go there again!!
  4. Dead animals really creep me out. I know they can't come back to life and get me...... but I am still scared of that happening. If I am walking my dog and we see a dead squirrel, I run away.
  5. I love my Snuggie! I joke a lot that I am going to bring my Snuggie to school with me when the weather gets colder, because the word on the street is that my room is the coldest in the building. I am probably the coldest person in the building on any given day, so this is not a good combination.
  6. I have two cousins who I love like sisters! They are my BCFs (Best Cousin Friends). One of them is going to the University of Illinois right now to be a teacher! When she has a classroom and starts a blog, she will be popular fast because she is very creative and artistic!!
  7. I love using exclamation points!! In college, I got points taken off on several projects because I overused exclamation points. I can't help it, I'm just excited a lot!
That was a really lame list but oh wells! I was going to to type out my list of Versatile Bloggers, but instead, I'd like to direct you to my sidebar where it says Bloggers Who Inspire Me!! These peeps are all amazing and share great ideas that help me be less boring in the classroom. Some of my new favorites are:
Mrs. Williamson has THE CUTEST IDEAS!! She makes me want to teach Kindergarten.

Mrs. King also has cute ideas, especially her new adaptation of The Techy Teacher's cloud viewer! And first grade is a challenge for me right now, so she is a good help!!

Hope is also amazing, and she teaches second grade, so that's the other half of my kids!!
Ms. Alley's Class
Ms. Alley teaches in CPS - my dream! I love to see what she can do with the limits on her as a CPS teacher.
Keen On Kindergarten
And it wouldn't be an award post without mentioning Meredith at Keen on Kindergarten!!!! I want to fly her to Illinois so that she can guide me in Math Work Stations. I think maybe I should stop saying that and just try them.....................

That's all!! Happy Sunday!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Can You Say Peace?

I mentioned on Wednesday that we had celebrated International Peace Day by reading Can You Say Peace?
Yesterday, after five long days of practicing the play at least three times a day (if not more), we finally went to the other classrooms in the building to perform! I was so proud of my students. No one blanked and forgot all of their lines, generally they were not talking to each other while others were saying their parts, and they were very eager to help when people forgot a word here or there.
I printed out a flag of each student's country so that they could color it. Then we glued the flags to the jumbo popsicle sticks to make flags that they could hold! The countries and languages represented were: India, America, Japan, Australia (although I do not know what language this was!), Mexico, Iran, Russia, China, France, Ghana, and Bolivia. The kids LOVED coloring their flags and seeing in "real life" (on the internet) what the flags looked like. They thought it was amazing.
Just by coincidence, I read aloud a book to my students this week that talked about peace, too! When I'm at the library getting books for my content areas, I like to grab random books to read aloud. This time, I grabbed The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionni, just because I like him as an author.
The book is about letters who live on leaves, and one day they get blown off the leaves by a wind and they're scared. A Word Bug comes along and tells them that they'll be strong if they come together to make words, and later a caterpillar says they should make sentences! An "important" sentence that they make is something like: Peace on earth, and goodwill towards all men. It tied in nicely to our week, and by accident!!

This post is linked to the Week in Review linky party hosted by Clutter-free Classroom!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Wednesday is already here!! I love that my weeks feel so quick. :)
I'm loving my class! They are working hard and (hopefully) learning a lot. Every morning, they have part of a handwriting packet to do, and almost all of the students go on past where they are supposed to stop every day because they say they love handwriting so much. I can't really complain about them wanting to practice handwriting..... haha.

I'm loving our class's new book boxes!
 Inspired (once again) by the amazing Lindsey at The Teacher Wife, I ran out to IKEA last week to buy these book boxes. They were 5 for $1.99!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How can you even beat that? My kids are obsessed with them and they have been super excited about decorating them. I'm hoping this excitement transfers to the books housed inside. They were sad when I said they could only put 5 books in their boxes!

On a related note, I'm loving IKEA. I never wanted to leave!!! Too bad it is about an hour away. Worth the drive, for sure. :)

I'm loving our space unit! Today we made little models of how the sun lights part of the earth while the other part has night. They were pretty simplistic but the kids were just amazed. They were also amazed at the quality of the picture that I'm posting of the finished product. They think I am a great photographer, haha!
 I'm loving International Peace Day. I read two books in honor of this awesome day: Can You Say Peace? by Karen Katz and The Peace Book by Todd Parr (whom I love).
And of course, we did corresponding activities for each book! For Can You Say Peace?, I found a little reader's theater that goes along with the book in a Library Sparks magazine. It is really cute and perfect for first and second graders! Each kid represents one country, so they say, for example: "My name is Carlos. I live in Mexico. I say paz." There are 11 different countries featured in the book, and they aren't all European countries!!! Hooray!! We have been practicing like crazy and we're going to perform for each class on Friday! For The Peace Book, after reading it, we created our own version. The students had to write, "Peace is ____________" and fill it in with their idea of peace. They did a good job!
 I'm loving taking walks with my mom and pupster at our local conservation area!
I'm loving our new bathroom passes that I got from First Grade O.W.L.S.! The little plastic frames to hold them were only 95 cents at Walmart and they adapted to this change in routine really fast. Yeah! And they are super cute. :)
I'm loving that Jennifer from Rowdy in First Grade awarded me with the Versatile Blogger Award!!!! I am still so surprised!! I will make that post tomorrow maybe. But it really made my day and week!! :) :)

And finally, I'm loving my boyfriend because is the bomb dot com! We went out for Chinese last night and it was deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelicious and made for a great lunch today!

Not only am I linking up with What I'm Loving Wednesday, but I'm also linking up with Ms. Kerri and Her Krazy Kindergarten for her positive things linky party!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Sun, Collaboration, and Free Educational Clip Art

We had a fun and successful week in first and second grades! I'm doing better with being consistent about behavior expectations, and the kids are really catching on to routines without me constantly reminding them. I am a happy camper. :)

I mentioned on Wednesday that we had started our space unit. On Thursday, we studied the sun. Our Science book included a little song about the sun to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. We didn't sing it... we just said it like a poem because, although I know the kids are only 6 and 7 and I shouldn't be self-conscious about singing in front of them.... I still am. Haha! Anyway, the song was legit and included a TON of facts about the sun. Then we made a little graphic organizer about the sun, but I forgot to take a picture of it!

Afterwards, I borrowed an idea from Mrs. M at The Techy Teacher and we watercolored pictures of the sun! Watercolors were not on my students' supply lists, but our awesome art teacher told me about the huge basket of watercolors in the art room! The kids were SO EXCITED about painting and they did so well! I started to explain watercolor expectations to them, but they informed me that they knew how to watercolor...... and they were right! No issues. :)

I left Mrs. M's examples on the TV screen so they could see that I didn't want them just to paint a yellow sun and call it a day. They did really well and I hung them up after school!

On Friday, the third and fourth graders came into our room to read us the fairy tales that they wrote.

I was really happy with how my students behaved! When the third and fourth graders came in, I was like, "WOW, there are a lot of people in here!" Then I realized that between the 2 classes, we only have 30 students................... which is the number that most other teachers have every day. I'd like to pat you all on the back!

Last week, I discovered a free educational clipart website run by Florida's Educational Technology Clearinghouse.

long banner-style Clipart math button
They have over 65,000 pieces of free clipart there! It's not cute, but it is useful! For my math curriculum, we only have the student workbooks and teacher manuals, no homework pages or tests, so I make everything myself. This was really useful to me this week when I made the second grade math test and needed clipart of base 10 blocks or bundles of 10s. It's not just math too... there are many different categories which I have not yet explored. But definitely check this out and bookmark it. :)

This post is part of The Clutter-Free Classroom's Week in Review linky party! I'm excited to share what I'm doing every week and also I'm excited to get new ideas! :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Happy Wednesday, friends! I have not participated in WILW since August 3rd!! Holy mama. I need to get back on it.
I'm loving that I'm lucky enough to have a class of 12 as a first-year teacher. They definitely feel like 30 sometimes though!

I'm loving the space unit we started yesterday! I really haven't done any full-on units yet - just tiny mini-units on September 11th or Labor Day or Grandparents' Day. But after seeing a few other teachers' space unit ideas, I thought that would be a good first unit! I never really liked science as a kid, and I don't want my class to feel that way. I'm trying to make this unit as hands-on as I can! Today we did a lab which helped us understand what causes day and night. We made models of the earth with foam balls and unsharpened pencils and then shined a light on the ball, which represented the sun! The kids really liked this a lot and it was a pretty inexpensive activity.
Tomorrow we study the Sun!

I'm loving that my first Scholastic book order came today!!!
Even only having 12 kids, our class bought $150 worth of books! Although I have to confess that my mom ordered some books for my cousin's birthday... haha! But because of our amazing total, I got a ton of free books!!!
I had $10 to spend in both SeeSaw and Lucky catalogs, and then I got free book packs from both also!! This made me sooooooo happy, because I love books! And the kids were excited about my free books too since they know that they'll be able to read them as soon as I categorize them! Too many exclamation points!!

I'm loving my bff Nicole who also helped out my class by buying the Hunger Games trilogy! They were a great price and they came with a Mockingjay pin! Now we have to get together so I can give her the books. :) Also I am loving this picture of us from New Year's 2009!!

I'm loving this idea that I adapted from a someone's classroom pictures blog post! I don't remember who it was, but if it was you, please tell me. :) My students ask me ALL DAY LONG when it is time for snack or lunch or going home - at which point I tell them how sad I am that they are so excited to leave me, haha. So I bought the dollar clocks from Target, stood on a stool, and tried not to break my limbs as I threw these up on the wall. God bless my hot glue gun!!! The first graders told me that it still doesn't help them since they can't read a regular clock....................... oh wells. Hopefully they'll catch on.......

I'm loving the education honor society I'm a member of - Kappa Delta Pi. As we speak, I am participating in a webinar about getting kids excited about reading and writing! However, I plugged in my headphones and nothing is happening, so I'm not loving that so much. I also got my New Teacher Advocate magazine in the mail from them today!

I'm loving that my kids get excited about morning meeting. I truly have no idea how to really do a morning meeting, but we do our best and they really look forward to it after morning work and routines are taken care of. They especially love when I play Start This Day With a Song from Jack Hartmann's Hip Hop Alphabop 2 cd.

Okay, I need to figure out why my headphones don't work!! What are you loving today?
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