Tuesday, May 29, 2012

There Are My Obsessions

I am going linky party CRAZY! I hope soon I do something school-related so I can feel more legit in my blog. In the meantime... linkies it is.

Today I am happy to tell you about my obsessions! Bonnie is hosting at Living a Wonderful Life!
Here is what I love!!

  • Being warm. I seriously do not like being cold. I welcome humidity, in fact, I embrace it! It's like the outside is wrapping a big blanket around me!!!!!! Sometimes I think I should move somewhere warmer. But then, would I really love being warm so much if I didn't experience the cold Chicago winters?? Deep thoughts right there.
  • My cousins. I have two crazy awesome cousins who I love so much. They are 21 and 18, so slightly younger than me... but now that we're all adults, the age gap seems nonexistent! We have a lot of fun together doing things like eating fro yo and going on spontaneous trips to places like the Jelly Belly Factory. My cousin, Kelley, left for Tanzania today to help build schools! And my cousin, Lisa, was the salutatorian of her graduating class!! Love love love.
  • Weddings. I'm not having one any time soon (although I feel like I get harassed about it a lot) but I suuuuuuure do love them! I just went to one on Saturday and it was great, and also unusual because it was a Macedonian Orthodox wedding, which was a whole new adventure for me! In case you are wondering, I want a dress like this...
         and I want my bridesmaids to look something like this...
  • Cheesy junk food. I typically enjoy fruit and other healthy types of food. However, I can not say no to Cheetos and cheese popcorn!!!!!!! Oh my, yum yum!!!!
What are you obsessed with? Link up!!!! :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

What I'm Reading This Summer

This summer, I plan on doing a LOT of reading!

Every summer, I read all of the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award nominees. I started doing this a few years ago before I had a job. I wanted to be familiar with the books my future students would read! Now that I actually have students, I still read all of these even though they are way above my students' reading levels. This collage shows all of the books I haven't read yet on the list!

I'll also read some professional books, like these...

And I'll definitely be long-term planning over the summer, too!

Maybe I can fit in some non-children's books........ we'll see. ;)

What are you reading this summer?

Music in the Classroom!

Leslie at Jack of All Trades is hosting a linky party about using music in the classroom!
Blog button
I definitely don't use as much music as I want to! That is one of my 9,000,000 goals for next school year. :)

However, we did watch at least one educational video per day! We did XtraMath as a whole class in the computer lab after lunch, so if they were working hard and not being silly, I rewarded them with a little video! I mostly just picked random ones from Harry Kindergarten's YouTube channel. Here are a few faves of ours:

When we were learning money, we watched this video one time and they sang it for DAYS afterwards. Probably because the Teacher Tipster is the bomb dot com, obvi.

Back when I couldn't decide whether I should teach social studies and science in random themes or by using my textbooks, I taught about bats for a week. I'm pretty sure I just stumbled across this fantastic song, which cracks me up because it sounds like they commissioned Britney Spears to sing this:

We also listen to Jack Hartmann's Hip-Hop AlphaBop CD when we are painting or cutting or doing other leisurely school activities. :) My class especially loved Miss Mary Mack from that CD because there is a rap part and they all thought they were rappers. I should have videoed their smooth moves.

Do you use music in the classroom? Link up! I would love more songs and videos to incorporate!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Delicious Sea Monsters

Today was our last full day of school!

I am a little sad... that might sound crazy! I didn't have a class of perfect angels this year, but it was my first class by myself, and we went through a lot together!

Part of our last day was spent by us making a little snack together. We found this recipe in the nonfiction magazine that comes with our reading program. This is one thumbs-up I will give to my program... these magazines are actually pretty sweet and the kids really like them.
We made under the sea monster things!
Here's what you need to make these...
A package of Goldfish, a box of raisins per child, a tub of whipped cream cheese  (one was just enough for 12 children), and one mini bagel per child! Plus a plastic spoon, knife, plate, and bowl-like dish per child.
First, each kid got some cream cheese in a cup. Then we added 1-2 drops of blue food coloring and stirred it up to make water!
Then, we spread it onto a plate. It was really supposed to be much thicker than this (so it actually looks like flowing water), but we rolled with it.
Next, you cut your mini bagel in half. Set half aside and cut the other half in half again. There will be three pieces of bagel. Arrange them like so:
Last, use cream cheese to attach raisins for eyes, and place the goldfish wherever your heart desires. Ta da! A delicious sea monster.
The kids LOVED THIS PROJECT. It was especially fun when they realized that the bagel is supposed to be the sea monster going in and out of the water. It just blew their minds, haha!

If it wasn't the last full day of school, I so would have thrown in a how-to writing activity. However, I let them off the hook and we just snacked instead. :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shape Birds

With our days left in the single digits, I wasn't planning to start new math units.

With Watercolor Day on Friday, I knew I had to come up with something fun to paint.

So I turned to the creative genius at Deep Space Sparkle for inspiration, and we made shape birds! A little math and a lot of watercoloring. They loved it!

Here we are working hard!

And here are a few of our masterpieces...
 Apparently one of the birds was working out... haha!

Super cute, so fun, and just beautiful. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Move-Up Day

Friday was Move-Up Day at my school!

Do you have one at your school? For 30 minutes, all of the students visited their classroom and teacher for next year. Since we only have one teacher for every two grades, the kids know for sure who their new teacher will be.

So the second graders left, I kept my first graders, and the Kindergartners came to see us!

I spent a LOT of time thinking about what I wanted to do for Move-Up Day. I wanted to give the Kinders a little taste of what we do normally, I also wanted to work in a few of our procedures, and I wanted us to have some fun too!

When the Kinders first came in, the first graders showed them the carpet area where we sit for read-alouds and found a spot for each of them. They even offered to share their own spots! I didn't even talk to the first graders about being polite and welcoming - they just did it on their own! First graders, I love you so much.

Then we went over our rules, which are based on the Whole Brain Teaching rules (a few are adjusted). We taught them the hand signals and very briefly discussed each one.

Then we moved into the main attraction... one of our FAVORITE read-alouds this year - Wodney Wat!
The first graders cheered with joy! The Kindergartners just sat quietly (they really took the rules to heart!). I read the book, using my very best Wodney voice - which is award-winning, or so I've been told. :) The Kinders did not understand the funny parts at all, so the first graders and I had explain every page, haha. At the end we talked about how you shouldn't make fun of people for how they talk and that we should be nice to everyone! They all were cool with that idea.

Then we made strawberry mice, inspired by this pin! (I would show you mine, but they look the same...)

Source: repeatcrafterme.com via Jill on Pinterest

And here we are, first graders and Kinders, together!
No fighting. No name calling. No hiding in the coatroom. No screaming in anyone's faces. (Not that any of those things happen on a normal day in my classroom......................)

I know I only had the group together for 30 minutes, but if first impressions mean anything, next year is going to be A-MA-ZING!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Greats and Not-So-Greats

I'm here on this hot Chicago day to share with you the things that went well this year, and the things that are in my brain to fix for next year! Thank you, Amber, for hosting this linky party!

  • Relationships with my students - Something I am proud of this year is that I think I had a good rapport with my class. We joked around a lot and got along very well for the most part. This was a big deal to me because my school is so super small and I was a little worried about being a new teacher since everyone at school is really close. But it all worked out!

  • Content-area teaching - I think I was probably at my best when I was teaching Science or Social Studies. I tried really hard to make every lesson differentiated, engaging, and interesting, and I still have students talking about our space unit from the beginning of the year. When they see pictures of communities in books, I always have students who raise their hands to tell me what types of communities are in the book! It is lovely.
  • Problem-solving - I don't mean in math! When we had a problem in the classroom, whether it was a procedural thing (like the way we line up for hot lunch) or some first grade lady problems, I think I did a pretty good job of solving the problem and making things better! We had classroom meeting type of things to figure out how to make everything run more smoothly. I found myself conducting lengthy discussions stemming from the fact that kids were giving each other gifts only to want them back later... which would result in tears. Our class solution was to just not bring toys to school.... what a novel concept!!!
  • Differentiated reading instruction - I feel like I talk about this a lot in real life, but just to say it again - I am not a fan of my reading program. It is 100% not differentiated whatsoever. When our reading specialist came to work with my low readers, she was astounded by the level of difficulty of our text. I really don't know how to use my reading series AND actually teach the kids how to read at their level. Having to teach two scripted reading lessons a day makes it harder.... ughhhhhhhhhh.
  • Classroom management - I will admit it, I am not a great classroom manager. I am going to chalk it up to being a first year teacher and not anticipating how I needed to dictate my expectations for every  minute detail of my classroom. I think I assumed too much about how they'd behave. Now I know and I hope I will be more ready for next year!!
  • Writing - I need to learn a better way to teach writing. I love all of the ideas I see in the blogs but I was never trained in writing workshop and I've never even seen one in real life, so I went along with our writing textbook this year. It was all right and my whole class made writing progress this year, but I want to try incorporating more writing workshop-y type of things and write WAY more next year!
Well now I am feeling like a Debbie Downer, haha! But I really do feel like I can make progress on my not-so-greats for next year!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thank You Gifts!

Do you get thank you gifts for your resource teachers?

I teach at a Catholic school, and our public school district sends over resource teachers for us. This year I have students who see a Title I reading interventionist and a speech-language pathologist.

I love both of them very much, but I especially appreciate our reading specialist. She just retired last year from teaching third grade for over 30 years! She is a fantastic teacher, super positive and helpful (especially since I'm only a first year teacher), and I really feel like she went above and beyond for the students in her care this year. She was only hired in January to work with our students, but she jumped right in and the kids made huge progress with our classroom reading instruction combined with her individualized instruction.

Anyway, to thank her for her dedication, my BTF and I threw together a fun little thank you gift that was inspired by Pinterest!
                                                         Source: therachelberryblog.com via Jill on Pinterest

And here is my interpretation!
I was sold as soon as I saw the zebra print towel! Love.

Monday, May 14, 2012

First and Second Graders in the Big City

I took twelve first and second graders to Chicago today.

I made it back alive!!! No one got lost, no one got hurt, no one even lost anything while we were there! I consider that a huge success. We had a lot of fun too.

Here we go...

6:36 - I'm driving to school. Please note that I am typically not even considering getting out of my bed at this time! However, I think I had some kind of adrenaline rush because I hopped right out of bed this morning!

We took a train that left before school starts. Everyone was there on time with their little brown bag lunches! I guess I told them enough times when to be there and what to bring. :) The train ride was interesting. Note to self - have a lot of conversations next time about expectations on a commuter train... before we go.

After our train ride, we walked a block or two up to the bus stop and took the bus up to the museum! They were pretty good on the bus because there was so much to see and take in.

Then we got to the museum! They scolded me for being late... but I took public transportation... I can't yell at the bus driver to go faster! :) We still made it to our awesome workshop, Habitat Explorers.

We explored three habitats, taking careful notes of each one. First we visited a prairie...
 Then a wetland...

 and a woodland!
The weather was BEAUTIFUL, sunny and 75ish!

Overall it was a good day! There were a few snags here and there but nothing that ruined the day by any means. And all of the kids said they had a FANTASTIC day and they couldn't even choose a favorite part. :) That makes all the craziness worth it.

Thank you, Target grant, for giving us this awesome opportunity!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Noodles and Bagels!

Happy Mother's Day - at least for a few more hours! I really have no idea how teacher moms do it. At the end of the day, I am legit exhausted! If I had to go home and still be on my game, it would be disastrous. So, I am really in awe of you all. :)

Just a few things tonight!

First, let me show you this cute little thing we did this week. We are going on a field trip to a nature museum tomorrow (ahh!!) and part of our time at the museum will be observing butterflies. So we learned about the butterfly life cycle and made this little crafty thing.
This is a printable from The Mailbox so I can't share it with you... but it would be pretty easy to make your own version. We used different noodles for each stage of the life cycle. I didn't have anything for the egg, but I would have used orzo or ditalini. For the caterpillar stage, we used rotini, for the pupa stage we used medium shells, and for the butterfly stage we used bow tie pasta! Or I think the box said farfalle... whatevs.

It was a good assessment because I would hold up a pasta and ask which stage it represented, and I was able to figure out right away who knew what was up with the butterflies!

I've also seen it where you use the noodles to make a little necklace of the life cycle. So there you go!

Second, my natural resources post was featured on Bagels and Blogs today!
Bagels and Blogs is hosted by Donna at Math Coach's Corner. She highlights 5 blogs a week with creative ideas that usually come with freebies! You should look at today's edition as well as past Bagels and Blogs posts!

Third, if you were paying attention above..... we are going on a field trip tomorrow! I am feeling very anxious about it. We are taking a train AND a public bus so I just hope everything goes well. Keep me in your thoughts tomorrow!

Hope your week goes well!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Summer Bucket List

It's almost summer, which means it's time to set some summer goals!

This summer I want to...
  • make my classroom look more like this:

Source: schoolgirlstyle.com via Jill on Pinterest

  • find my little Target pocket charts and have my brother help me make these:
Source: firstgradefabulosity.blogspot.com via Jill on Pinterest

  • do some major long-term math planning. I am DETERMINED to teach math as a whole group next year. I feel like so much of our classroom time was not used wisely during math because I was trying to teach and prevent the other half of the class from going crazy. So many of our topics in first and second grade overlap and I can totally teach a differentiated lesson every day. Side note: does anyone else use this program? Or it is only me.....
  • totally rework my calendar routine, 100%, with the help of this sweet DVD:
Source: youtube.com via Jill on Pinterest
  • make these offices! I put the Really Good Stuff privacy shields on my Christmas wishlist that went out to the parents, but alas, it was not to be.... and I think these would be way more useful anyway!
Source: jmeacham.com via Jill on Pinterest
  • learn more about Brain Gym! I won a sweet giveaway from Christina and I can't wait to dive into the teacher's manual this summer!

Oooookay, I think that is definitely long enough! What's on your summer bucket list? Link up!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rock Babies

Happy Friday!!!

Today was R Day, for Rocks Day! It was also a half day for Teacher Appreciation Week, so I was really scrambling to fit in some kind of rock activity into our super short day!

I decided to take the kids for a walk around the neighborhood in the hope that they could each find a rock to bring back to school. Some brought back 50. Some brought back 0. In the end, we each had a rock to clean and call our own.

I meant to have the kids paint and decorate the rock babies, a la Reagan, but we really only had time to glue on googly eyes. However, this TOTALLY made their day.

This one had a little sling!

The little smile on this one cracked me up!

And this fancy pants lady had a balloon hat with a flower on it!
They cradled their babies, they took them to lunch, and they read to them even when it wasn't sanctioned independent reading time! Note to self - study rocks next year!

I keep forgetting that I, like everyone else, was nominated for Most Fascinating Blog of 2012, haha. It was because of my Threaded Commenting post!
Accelerated Degree Programs
I guess I've really hit the big time now, haha!!

Have a good weekend! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Origami and Picnics!

Well, it's been a bit of a crazy week, so I am happy that the weekend is coming up! And this is one of the first weekends in a while that I don't have anything major going on - no First Communions, no school picnics, no weddings, no bridal showers... only Mother's Day brunch on Sunday!

Here's a little update on our ABC Countdown!

O was Origami Day. This was a great day! They loved it and they're still making origami in their free time. :)

This is the book that I read to introduce origami to them. It was a great book! I am a Grace Lin fan. :) It was a really cute story about Lissy, who is a new kid. She has a hard time making friends, so she makes origami animals to be her friends! Eventually this leads her to make a real friend.

Then, I whipped out this easy origami book!
It truly was easy! There were a few little things that didn't take a ton of crazy folds to make. We made butterflies, since we are going to the nature museum on Monday and we just can't get enough butterflies in our lives right now!
The teal one is mine, and I don't know whose the blue one is! That makes me happy because I didn't make it and it looks good. Thanks, first and second graders, for paying attention!!! :)
P was Picnic Lunch Day! This was one of the best days yet, mainly because I didn't have to try and squeeze anything extra into our already crazy packed day. I just brought a bunch of blankets and we ate our normal lunch on the playground.
They thought this was the BEST THING EVER. Note to self (and to you) - this is a great reward/motivator! I was planning on just spreading the blankets out on the classroom floor if necessary but it ended up being a really nice day!

Tomorrow the teachers have a half day! Our Parent Club comes into our rooms in the afternoon with popcorn and movies, and we go home. I am feeling a little control-y because I really wish I had the afternoon to fit in more math... oh wells. I will probably just go home and take a nap!! :)

Happy almost Friday!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...