Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Yay for a Good Day!!

I had an awesome day with my first and second graders today!! They listened most of the time, they worked super hard, and all these minutes showed up that I never usually see!

I think it was because I was more strict than normal right when the day started and moved a couple of kids' clips down for talking during calendar. I hate moving clips down and I would much rather focus on positive behavior, but I've gotten pretty frustrated with the extreme amount of talking that happens all day long. So I guess those kids sent a warning to everyone because the rest of the day was just lovely. :)

Today I started decorating the room for Christmas! The other day I saw this cute wreath idea on Dr. Jean's blog and decided to go with it! I don't have any store-bought decorations so everything I put up is kid-made (which I like better anyway)!

Admittedly, this is not really "kid-made" besides that those are really the hands of first and second graders. I first had them trace their own hands. After two kids who took 15 minutes EACH, I commandeered that situation and traced all their hands and cut them out in my free time. Our secretary had that sweet bow template and then I just cut some little circles for berries! I think it looks amazing, haha!!

I also put up my Dollar Tree Christmas bell! It's so close to the door that it won't even ring but I don't care!!

Over the summer, I signed up for a traveling stuffed animal project on Second Grade Teachers' Club and yesterday we received Tyrone in the mail.
The kids think he is the best thing that ever happened to them. One girl already is bringing him with her to everything she does... math stations... P.E.... the carpet.... I have to try and find a little pin to put on his vest!

With Tyrone, we also received a book - Owney the Mail Pouch Pooch.
I am not going to lie to you, friends - I was not feeling this book. It is a true story of a dog who hopped on trains and went all over the place. The story was pretty cool, but it was exceptionally long-winded and I got bored reading it. In my bizarro world classroom today, the kids stayed sitting and silent for the ENTIRE THING. Whoa.

I also started Words Their Way this week!!! It was a little hectic yesterday trying to explain what we were doing in life, but today when I had them re-sort their words into groups, about 80% of them were super into it. Hooray!!!! Yay for sorting!!! I have 4 groups and only 12 kids.... on one hand, I feel like that's kind of overkill, but on the other I do have two grades and incredibly varying ability levels. So I am feeling good about that!

And on a last, more somber note, one of my dear little frogs went to frog heaven today.
I am not really sad about it, as I only had them since August and the kids never cared enough to bother giving either of them a name. And this experience has taught me that I am not a class pet person. I think I'm more of a class plant person........ except I have a classroom that gets no natural light!! My wall of windows looks at the building right next door and we face the north! Any suggestions on plants that are cool with shade?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I've Got Sunshine!

... on a cloudy day - like today in the Chi!

Thank you to the two awesome ladies who bestowed upon me the Sunshine Award!!
Reagan from Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits is an inspiration to me! She makes the cutest units and activities for her students, and I would love to be a first grader in her class. :) Her Geometric Math Quilts are in my TpT cart waiting for tomorrow!!

Keri from teach play smile is also awesome! I love how she shares children's books that go along with content (my fave). And she teaches a split class like me! Yeah!

Go check out their blogs!

Here are my answers!

Favorite color - Mine is purple. But I also like red, and pink, and magenta, and other reddish purpley types of colors!

Favorite animal - I like zebras!! I think their stripes are cool. As far as a pet... we have two miniature Schnauzers and one cat and I love them all! Here is our pupster, Max!

Favorite Number - Meh, I don't really have one. I guess I like 8 because of how it is symmetrical and kind of fun to write!

Favorite Drink - I like the Tazo Passion tea from Starbucks... and I like Coke... and I like Youthberry tea from Teavana... and I love fruit juice of (mostly) any kind!!

Facebook or Twitter - I have both but I am on facebook way more. I like being able to keep up with my high school and college friends even though they may be far away!! And whenever I write in my blog, I share the link on my facebook and I always get some people who come check it out! Thanks friends!!

Your Passion - Right now, my passion is definitely teaching and trying to become a better teacher. I love the blogging world but sometimes it makes me feel very small... because everyone knows what is going on and I feel like I am just trying to stay afloat!! I'm hoping it's just a first-year thing.

Giving or Getting Presents - I like both! I am usually not an early shopper but I have a couple people's presents already purchased for Christmas!! Hopefully I won't be running around at the last minute this year!

Favorite Day - My birthday! Or any warm day in summer. It actually has not been that cold here in Illinois so I can't complain too much. :)

Favorite Flower - I like gerbera daisies!

I think most people have gotten the Sunshine award, so I encourage you to check out my sidebar. I need to add some more peeps but those the blogs I really love!!

Also, I'd like to say an incredibly belated thank you to Ana at Ingles 360 for giving me the I Heart Your Blog Award!!! I just checked and she gave it to me in October............. yikes.

Aaaaaaaand one last thing. This weekend I've been relaxing and planning a bit, and I am becoming a little frustrated with my schedule and school day! I feel like I can't fit everything in. I also feel like I am putting very important things on the back burner because I just do not have enough minutes! None of my specials are at the same time each day, some days I have two specials, we have a super long lunch and a morning recess, we have Mass on Friday..... ahh!!

Do you have any tricks you use to squeeze extra minutes into your day?? I am desperate!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oh Baby!

One of my second graders will be a big sister soon! Her mom is due on December 8th, but she's already been to the hospital a few times, so they say it could be any day. Today I knitted a hat for the baby!

Here is where I found the pattern (I just made it a little bit bigger). I'll probably make one more in a different color before the baby is born.

I decided to make this hat because we have such a small school community, and the mom is one of my party room moms!

I'm wondering - do you do anything for your students when they have a new baby at home? I know when I student taught, the district sent home a little "big brother" package when one of my first graders' moms had a baby. I'd love to know if there's anything you usually do!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wrapping Up Thanksgiving

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving! It has been nice to relax. I read a whole book so far this break, and I haven't read for fun since probably September. So that makes me happy!

I never go out for Black Friday, but I went today to the teacher store because they had a 35% off sale!!! I didn't buy a ton of things, but this is what I picked up:
I bought the place value pocket chart because I don't have one and I've been thumb-tacking Ziploc bags to my bulletin board........ I think this might be a little classier. I bought the rest of my calendar days which I LOVE! I am obsessed with these Poppin' Patterns days. Then I got 12 Smencils to give my students as part of their Christmas presents. Those Smencils really jacked up the total price. They'd better love them!!

And here are a few other things we did for Thanksgiving this week. We were in school on Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday so I tried to sneak in lots of academic Thanksgiving activities to keep their brains in the room!!

We made the Thanksgiving retelling bracelets, which I found at First Grade a la Carte! They loved these things, even the boys! I had a ton of these beads at my house, so I was able to make little baggies for each kid, but I didn't have brown. I went to like 5 stores, no brown beads!!! So I explained the sad situation to the kids and told them to pretend there was one there. One intuitive kid made her own brown bead out of construction paper, haha!!!!! Here is hers.
And here is everybody's!
We also dot-painted, which was inspired by this pin...

Ours didn't turn out quiiiiite as perfectly as hers did. Now that I translate her blog from Italian into English, it looks like she drew a circle for their dots to stay inside. Ours were more creative-looking, and they liked doing it!

At the last minute on Monday night, I saw Mrs. Sauod's post about Thanksgiving activities connected to books. I immediately replaced whatever else I was going to do with her cute suitcase idea! I read a Thanksgiving book, and then had them close their eyes and imagine that they are going on the Mayflower. Since there were so many people, they could only take 4 things. What would they take??

I thought I'd get some crazy answers, but they mostly said things like their bed, their blanket, their dog, their families, and so on. About half of them said pop. Can't survive 66 days at sea without pop, I guess!! They loved the little suitcases. They wanted to carry them all over the room, which was pretty cute. I think I'll use these again when I do Mrs. Bainbridge's Christmas Around the World unit!
In second grade, we wrote acrostic poems about what we were thankful for. They had to be creative and use adjectives for some of the letters.
 [I like this one because she wrote iPads and iPhone 4 for her two I words! That cracked me up. Also she is thankful for being a kid, aw.]
 [We're reading Nate the Great in second grade, so I guess she really is liking it! Also for her last G, she wrote "second grade." Aw again!!]
 [And this girl was a little reliant on adjectives... nice people... kind people... very nice friends... good friends... ay caramba.]

And the last thing we did before we ran home at 12:30 on Wednesday was our award ceremony! I got these super cute thankful certificates from Erica Bohrer. I read everyone's aloud and we all clapped and were excited for each other! They loooooooved the ceremony and they were so happy with what I wrote to them. I wrote to one girl that I was thankful for her because she always made me laugh, and her face looked like I gave her a million dollars. It made me happy. :) We don't have a color printer at school so I just printed it on colorful paper. Also I am annoyed that this dumb picture is coming out sideways!!!
So now that Thanksgiving is over, I guess it's time to start Christmas...? How soon are you starting with your class?

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Thankful

Thanks to the sweet teachers at What the Teacher Wants and Oh Boy'4th Grade, I'm sharing today what I'm thankful for!!

What are you thankful for in your classroom?

As much as my students tire me out and sometimes frustrate me, I am very thankful for my twelve little friends. Being a first year teacher is difficult, but they make my job enjoyable (note: I did not say easy.....). They have great senses of humor, a TON of energy, and they generally embrace anything I bring in for them to do. Other than my students, I am thankful for having a lot of freedoms as far as what I teach. Although we have basals, my principal is extremely flexible in letting us use our discretion about what topics we want to cover over the course of the year and for how long. This can be really overwhelming, since I want to teach about every topic and every cultural holiday, but I know that many teachers do not have these opportunities, so I try to take advantage of them!!!

What person are you most thankful for?

I am thankful for so many people! My parents and siblings, my best cousin friends, my non-cousin friends, my next-door neighbor teacher... but today I will be most thankful for my lovely boyfriend. Over the weekend, we went on a museum extravaganza in Chicago! We went to the Shedd Aquarium (where he works), the Field Museum, and the Adler Planetarium. It was a GREAT day and I learned so much! Back to the topic though ... Matt is incredibly supportive of me as a teacher. He is always texting me ideas that he has for my class, and he helps me by drawing things for the kids (like the Kaboom sticks for my new Kaboom math station - more on that tomorrow maybe). If I have a great day, he is always excited to hear about it, and if I have a rough day, he is always there to reassure me that everything will be fine. I feel so lucky!

What three blogs are you most thankful for?

Oh man. I love so many! I want to list a million, but I will cut it down to three!

First, Kristin at The Teeny Tiny Teacher. Whenever I see my Google Reader with a new post from Kristin, I am soooo super excited. She is hilarious and I don't even care what she writes about. It always makes my day better!! I'm sad that I did not follow her earlier!!

Next, I will say Jodi at Fun in First. I think I have pinned more stuff from her blog than anyone else's. She has the cutest ideas and they are legit.

And last, I am going to cheat and say Teacher Tipster!! I watch his videos obsessively and I make my boyfriend watch them too (I think he is okay with it...?). I am asking for his musical morning routine video for Christmas and I really want to start doing it! My calendar routine is incredibly boring even though I try to speed through it. I am not a singer in the classroom but I am going to try to get over it, since the kids are tiny and think I am amazing at everything. Haha!! Here is one of my personal favorite videos that makes me cry laughing every time. Enjoy!!!!

What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?

Hmmm.... this is difficult. I think I will go with Teavana tea since it is crazy expensive and I feel guilty spending my tiny paycheck on it..... oh wells! I drink the Youthberry/Wild Orange Blossom combination which is truly wonderful. It just warms up my soul, I feel. I don't follow their crazy directions on how to make it (I let it steep for way longer) and I add tons of sugar and it is great!! I recommend trying it out if you haven't!! I always drink many samples when I am at the mall. :)
What are you most thankful for?

So many things! I am so very thankful that I have a teaching job in this economy. I feel very lucky to have found a place where I am comfortable and where I teach next door to one of my friends. We have each other's back! I am thankful that I have a warm home and a loving family. I am thankful that I have Matt who makes me happy every day. I am thankful that my cousin Kelley is doing her observation hours in my classroom because it helps a TON having her there and I love my cousin. :) I just love the world!

What are you thankful for? Link up with the awesome parties going on!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What We've Been Up To

I wanted to share today some fun things we have been doing in our classroom! It has been a rough week (I seriously need a classroom management coach...... it is ridiculous), but I have labored on!

I mentioned yesterday that we did the reading response for the Ugly Pumpkin. I remembered to take pictures today! Here were some of the highlights. It was so hard not to die laughing at their writings.... I knew they were sad events but they wrote them in such a funny way!

We also made the math turkeys that I saw on Fun in First. I let the kids pick their own numbers - first graders picked 2-10 and second graders picked 10-20. Each feather was a different representation of their number. We did... word form, expanded form, tallies, a picture, an addition sentence, and a subtraction sentence. They seemed to like this! However, if I were to do it again, I would tell them that they couldn't pick the same number that I picked... I had a ton of first graders pick 8 like I did, and they just copied off of my sample. Not the intention of this activity... oh well. You live you learn, I guess!
In first grade, we've been learning /sh/, /ch/, /th/, and /wh/. We just did /wh/ today, actually. Yesterday, I reintroduced these digraphs as Letter Teams, and we talked about how they have to be together to make the sound. Then I made an impromptu chart paper poster and told the kids that when they saw a word with any of our letter teams in them, like when they were reading, they could go over and add it to the chart. I didn't think this would be quite as exciting as it was, but OMG, they lost it every time they found one of the letter teams. I don't think the chart lasted longer than an hour before it was packed with words. Also it got a little packed with decorations. I guess we need to talk about that!
And let me leave you with a little funny. So every Friday we go to Mass, and a student from each classroom is responsible for coming up with a petition, or something to pray for, and going up in front of church and saying it into the microphone. Up until this point, I've only had second graders do it, since I know they can read (since I write down what they want to pray for so they don't forget when they go up there). But today I asked one of my higher first graders if she wanted to do the petition, and she said sure. So usually I write the kid's name on the board so that on Friday morning I don't forget to remind the kid that it's their day. She did me a favor and wrote her own name on the board along with her invented spelling of "petition."
I love first graders.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! It has come fast for me this week because I was out on Monday. Let me start by saying that I'm not loving that I left my camera at school! :(
I'm loving CVS Minute Clinic and my prescription! I've been sort of sick for at least three or four weeks now, and let me tell you.... it feels SO GOOD to breathe!!!! I think my jello and popsicles helped too. :)

I'm loving the Data and Graphing unit that we just started in second grade. It's so interactive and engaging for the kids and hopefully it's a little more exciting, as our first few units were all review. Today they got to write their own surveys and try them out on the class. They LOVED this. I think I'll finally get around to making a survey math station. The first graders are all asking when they get to start Data and Graphing! Luckily, it's the next chapter in their books, too. :)

I'm loving The Ugly Pumpkin and Abby's great Oh So Thankful unit!
This book is super cute, and my kids love any books that rhyme, so that helps. They felt so sad for the Ugly Pumpkin, and today we did the I Felt Squashed When... response activity. It was great because all of my kids had something to share, even my student who always copies off of my example or whoever is sitting next to him. This made me happy happy. :)

I'm loving another Thanksgiving book, Gracias the Thanksgiving Turkey.
This is a really sweet book about a Puerto Rican family in New York City (I think?). The dad in the family is a truck driver, and he sends a turkey home to be fattened for Thanksgiving. As you can see on the cover, he becomes a part of the family and the son refuses to eat his little buddy! I can't wait to read this tomorrow or Friday to the kids. There are a ton of Spanish words interspersed, and I think my two Spanish speakers will get really excited about them.

I'm loving that my kids had a great day on Monday with the sub! When I got to school, I had a nice note from her saying she had a great day. And all of the kids stayed at or above Ready to Learn on the clip shart! One even got to Super Student. Yay kids!!

What are you loving this Wednesday?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Have Strep :(

It is official - first-year teacher syndrome has hit me! I've had a cold on and off for a few weeks now, so today I finally went to the Minute Clinic at CVS and they said I have strep!

On Friday I was a mess. I was happy that I stayed awake all day. I was a bad teacher and substituted an Animal Babies video for math work stations. I was happy, though, when most of the kids wanted to do math stations and were mad about having to watch the video. I'm glad I'm doing something right academically that the kids look forward to! One of the second graders said I could take a nap and she'd watch the class, haha!

So just now, I wrote out my first set of sub plans and they are three pages long. That isn't crazy... right? I remember when I was a sub, I liked more detailed plans because then I knew exactly what to do at exactly what time.

I'm a little worried that my kids will lose it tomorrow or that I left something out!

Any words of advice for me as I leave my kiddos in the hands of another?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day Part Deux

Yesterday we did something pretty cool in my class that I wanted to share!

Over the weekend, when I was looking for Veterans Day activities, I came across the Teachers' Guide made by the VA. It seemed pretty typical and nothing crazy awesome until I came across the coloring page about the Women Air Service Pilots (WASP). This excited me a lot because over the summer, I read an amazing book - Flygirl by Sherri Smith.

Do you know about WASP? Women were trained to help test planes and get male soldiers ready for combat in WWII. I thought this was amazing, and also sad because I never even knew about this until the summer. This book was a fictional book, but it was based on the real experiences of women in WASP.

Of course, I'm not going to read this Young Adult book to my first and second graders, so I looked around for an age-appropriate book about WASP. Sadly, there aren't a lot of choices... BUT I found one!

This book, as you can see, is the true story of one of the two Asian American women who were in WASP. It was an inspiring and uplifting story and I think it sent a good message - that people should never give up on their dreams.

To honor Veterans Day, and to respond to our read-aloud, I wanted my students to write letters to Maggie Gee, because I found out that she was still alive! However, I couldn't find an address for Maggie. So, I went out on a limb, found Marissa Moss's email, and asked her if she'd be willing to give me the address to send our letters to Maggie.

And she wrote me back!!!!! Super quickly!! She said that Maggie would love to get our letters and that she still goes out and talks to schools about her awesome life.

So, we read the book, the students LOVED it, and we got set writing our letters! They worked so hard. I told them they had to use their very best handwriting since Maggie is almost 90 and if they have sloppy handwriting, she definitely will not read their letters!

Today I mailed them off!
I'm hoping that Maggie will write back to us, but I will understand if she is too busy or not into it. :)

So, in conclusion, the kids loved having a real veteran to write to who had a sweet life story. It was authentic writing for a real purpose! And Marissa Moss is the bomb dot com! I definitely recommend her book if it's not too late to add in a bit more to your Veterans Day unit.

PS: Happy 11-11-11!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Getting Ready for Veterans Day

I was pumped to start my Communities unit in Social Studies this week, but then I noticed that Veterans Day was approaching! So I'll hold off for a bit.

Yesterday we watched our Scholastic News video a hundred times and read through the issue. Once again, it was a good one. I can't say enough how much I love Scholastic News! I just wish they could make some kind of 1/2 split issue just for me..... because the reading level is way above my first graders, but the questions they ask are way below my second graders. Sigh. Still love it.

Today we made the little soldiers from Deanna Jump's Veterans Day Math and Literacy Activities pack. I bought this pack just for the soldier directions because I thought they were SO CUTE. It was a directed art lesson. My kids are incredibly chatty and can be difficult to reign in to give directions, but they were amazing during this activity. I think they were shocked that a little stack of rectangles could be made into something real. Here was the one I made along with them, so, the sample! {We made sure to make some female soldiers... even though I doubt they wear their hair down...haha!}
And here is our little display outside our classroom.
I don't have any bulletin boards outside my classroom so I just masking-tape stuff up on the wall...... The yellow stars I sent home yesterday for my kids to write names of veterans in their families so we can connect what we're learning to home! And, of course, to honor our veterans.

I am super excited about our Veterans Day activity for tomorrow! So check back for that. :)

And a little something extra - today was one of my first grader's birthdays, and they are ALL obsessed with Angry Birds. Some don't even know what Angry Birds are but they still love them, haha! Anyway, my first grader brought Angry Birds cupcakes today and they were cute!

And one last thing! I did the primary spelling inventory for Words Their Way yesterday and the results were amazing to me!! I mean, most of them weren't a surprise but I was kind of surprised at how incredibly high some of my second graders are. I would not have put them into the groups that the assessment indicated, so I'm glad that I did it! I'll start spelling groups next week after I have a chance to figure out what I'm doing! Lots of exclamation points!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November Currently

I haven't linked up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for this Currently linky party since August!

 Here's what I'm doing currently...

We had a short week this week but it sure felt long since the kids were CRAZY! The day after Halloween was nuts, plus we had Mass since it was All Saints' Day. Wednesday and Thursday we had half days and then conferences, and the second the kids got to school, they were ready to go home. Plus, on Wednesday we normally have technology in the morning and music in the afternoon, but they rescheduled music to the morning, so I hardly got anything done on Wednesday between the two specials and morning recess!!

In other news, we have been getting lots of postcards from our awesome Postcard Exchange! I'll have to take pictures of the ones we've gotten. Our favorites so far are California and Hawaii - because when you live in flat land Illinois, those places are exotic. :)

This weekend I've been perusing Words Their Way.
Could this be the answer to my frustrations?? Do you use Words Their Way? I think I'm going to do the primary spelling inventory on Monday and use the data to make little groups. If you have any words of wisdom, I would LOVE anything you have to share!
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