Thursday, September 20, 2012


Hi, Friends! Hope you’re having a great week! TGI…..{almost} Friday!  We’ve been sitting on the corner of awesome and bomb~diggity in Room 113! 

This week, we launched Work on Writing.

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After spending 3 weeks practicing and building stamina for activities that solely included reading, students were excited to have another option!  Have I told you lately, how much I am loving the Daily 5?  I know its at a point of being borderline annoying, but I DO! It has completely simplified our day, while increasing the rigor of our literacy block!

And guess what?  My copy count is in tact because the one thing that we’ve needed the most is “good fit” books! Annnnnnnd what teacher doesn’t love books?  Books, books, and more books!

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Our anchor charts are hung and providing reminders for reading behaviors.

I’ve got one massive cinder block wall that they’ve helped to fill.  We’ll leave them up until these behaviors are engrained on our brains and then they’ll be replaced with mini typed versions and sent home with kiddos to share with their families.

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The first things students make reference to as they move to work on writing is an I Can list.  I know that this is more of a “stations” mentality, but hey you can’t expect me to do a total 360 in just a year! Old habits die hard and I still believe this is a good practical way to get students reading for a purpose.

Students have free access to different types of pencils, erasers, glue, scissors, various papers, writing activities and their writer’s notebook.  This notebook stays on the writing materials shelf and is only used during D5.  To the right of the shelf is a mini pocket chart that will house mini posters with suggested vocabulary to use throughout the year and our weekly sight words.  The sight words will hang here throughout the week and will be posted to the word wall each Friday.

The first day that work on writing was offered as a choice, a group of students went over, eyed the shelf and just sat.  Even after creating our I{ndependence} chart and discussing getting started right away, they just sat with looks of excitement on their faces.  I walked over and asked if everything was okay and they had a hard time believing they could write about anything they wanted!

That was an easy problem to solve.  After reassuring them that it was indeed okay to write about whatever they liked, its been nonstop flow since and it is definitely a popular choice. 

We’ll write together on teacher selected topics and skills during writer’s workshop.  We’ve written about favorite characters….

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Of course, Pete is still popular.

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Used labels to give information about our pictures.

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Sorted nouns into our journals from anchor charts.

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And are beginning to use graphic organizers. 

Most of these we did together to get the feel for writing and why we write.  Their writing from D5 has been very personal so they’ve snatched it up quickly to take home and share with pride!

Work on writing was our 4th activity to introduce, so with it came choice! EEEEKKKKK! THAT is what I completely thought we would N-O-T be able to handle and we’re still working out a few quirks, but overall…..its worked well.  It’ll work better once, we’ve introduced the 5th activity, Word Work.

Here’s what our Check In looks like….


Oh, yeah! More *LOVE*.  I love simple things.  I like pretty/cutesy, but *love* simple.  I looked and searched other blogs, sites and googled my little heart out trying to find inspiration for our check in system when I found the awesome Angela at Just Love Teaching!

She had created this simple system using Powerpoint and offered it as a freebie on her blog. So, with a couple clicks to copy and paste, I converted it to an .ink file to use with Mimio and voila! As the students are left to check in, I’m already at the teacher table working with students! *LOVE*. 

Stop by and see Angela some time to see how she used it in her classroom! This was exactly what I was looking for and am so grateful! No need to reinvent the wheel, just topped it off with clipart to add the cutesie factor and support for nonreaders.

I’ll also be updating it to use student names; we used the numbers to get a quick start on using the Check In (because I put it together during lunch)! Hahaaa!

Okay….I’ve rambled enough for tonight, but wanted to leave you with a little freebie.  We read a story this week about our friends Tim and Rip in order to understand characters.  If you use Journeys reading series too, click the pic to write about them. 

Have a fab Friday!


Monday, September 17, 2012


Hi, Friends! I’m still alive and kicking!

It’s been a whirlwind of a start to the beginning of this school year! We’ve had a fantastic first 3 weeks and began the 4th today! I, however, had no idea how it would be!  Well, I did sort of…beginning the year is comparable to going into labor.  If teachers actually remembered how painful beginning the year was, we might never come back to start another, lol!

The pressure in the weather changed a little and blew in the Chatterbox Monster, but we quickly banished him back from whence he came! Firsties have a lot of work to do! We’ve got “turn and share” time incorporated into the day so all of that miscellaneous lion roaring can drive a teacher on a mission a little bonkers! Lol!  He had to go!

So, let’s catch up!  What have you been up to?  Here’s a little of what we’ve been doing! I know I usually share things that we do during our reading block, but I’ve got a little math madness lined up for you today! My kids have really been enjoying learning the routines to start the year and were super excited to get their hands on some math station fun!

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We reviewed ways to show numbers and write number names. 

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We’re still linking, counting, comparing, and introducing the concept of addition….

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Filling in missing numbers and putting them in order…..AND fine tuning classroom routines! Today, I completely tore down the supplies on one of our shelves and reorganized the entire thing!  Its funny how we plan for the students ahead of time and see things in a totally different way once they’re actually in the room.  This is how I will be storing our station activities this year.

See the missing numbers activity above?  It’s all stored inside the little envelop below.  Now you see it! Now you don’t! (The number lines are from Lakeshore Learning.) *LOVE!*

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Last year, I housed most of our station activities in gallon sized ziploc bags, but am trying to start the year off just a tad more organized and went with manilla envelopes instead for this year.  Using them has also made for a quicker clean up and a place to put the directions sheet! I’m hoping that all of the pieces to each activity will make it back into the bag and the filing cabinet to begin the year, next year. {Fingers are crossed, so far…..go good!} A girl can hope, can’t she?

The little sign with the student’s table number is our simple management system for the rotation. 6 activities. 1 for each table. The students rotate to one each day after our whole group lesson. The rotation includes 6 activities that include a rotation to the computer for math games. Every 7th day, activities are changed or extended to add new learning. Voila!

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We used our new best friend to create our first picture graph.  Can you guess who it is?  I’ll give you a hint! He’s blue and doesn’t cry over anything! Goodness, no! He just walks along, singing his song and rocks in his new school shoes! The great thing about this activity?

We extended it from graphing, to reading, to community building…all the way to writing at the end of the day! Pete is one amazing, little, groovy dude!

With the exception of our friend, Pete, all of these little activities are up for grabs in my little TPT store! Click the pic to go check them out!


I’ve really missed my bloggy buddies and would love to know how you balance all of this with your “day job”! It feels great to share again and I’ll be catching up on my email and other current happenings before posting again on Thursday.  Stop by then! Please forgive me, if you’ve reached out and I have not yet responded. I will get back to you ASAP! We’re having a ball in room 113 and I can’t wait to share more with YOU!

We’re having such a good time that when I told my kiddos that it was time to line up to go out to recess today (even after days of rain) they asked….Is it time for recess ALREADY!?! and then said…..Mrs. Dwyer, we’re having way too much fun! {What?!!}We didn’t even know it was recess time!

Now THAT’S when you know you’re having a GREAT DAY! I love my firsties! They’re simply the BEST!  ANNNNND because my class just plain old rocks, guess who was recognized as one of this week’s Rock Star teachers at my campus?

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 Yep! This chica! BUT, you can’t be a Rock Star teacher without a Rock Star class, so I told my kids it was for all of us! And because you’ve read through my rambling all the way to the end, YOU ROCK TOO!

Have a great night and I promise not to be a stanger! Be back soon! Real soon…

Friday, September 7, 2012


Hi, Friends! TGIF! I hear a little rest and relaxation calling my name!

Click the pic to check out my guest post over at sweet Christina’s super cute blog! She’s a former second grade teacher jumping back into the fantastic world of firsties this year! Tell her Tanya sent you! 

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Have a fantastic Friday!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Hi~ya, Friends!  How are you? Boy, am I missing my little bloggity blog!  These past few days have seriously been K-ruh-aZEE! But, good kinda crazy! After having an amazing first week of school, my sister and I headed off to spend the weekend with our dad-out of state!

I know, after the first week? For real?  Didn’t I need to rest?! Well, YES! But, did I? Nope! We had a wonderful time celebrating my dad’s 30th pastoral anniversary, but this girl is dawg tired!

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I wish I could express how happy am I with the progress my class has made over these first few days.  I really could just cry thinking about it! Tired or not, its time to get down to the nitty gritty and this group is ready and willing to dig right in! It’s kinda funny….no matter how tired I might feel or how many times, I hit that snooze button….when I get to school and see my firsties, I feel great!

They did an phenomenal job of practicing Reading to Self last week!  I told them today that I was so proud of them that we’d move on to learn how to Read to Someone and wouldn’t you know it, those little cutie pies continued to do a great job?!  It’s anchor’s away in Room 113 and this is what our little chart looked like by the end of the day today.

We did the whole bit about my sister seeing a spider and screaming EEEKKKK!!! They loved it. If it were up to firsties, I’m sure many of us would receive academy awards, lol! They love it when we’re silly.

And guess what? Our little CAFE board is no longer empty! {Enter the sounds of heavenly angels!}

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Isn’t that just the prettiest little check mark you’ve ever seen?  I created the first strategy card as we discussed what it meant in order to model how we’ll be using the board.  The rest will have student handwriting and illustrations on them. 

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I’m sorry, it’s just so stinkin’ adorable, I had to zoom in on it! As we moved to our second round of Read to Self today, we introduced Checking for Understanding.  Initially, I thought of laminating a checkmark, but them remembered *staying in one spot* and didn’t want to imagine them trying to get up and walk around to get one.

Instead, I taught them to make a check mark using their thumb and pointer finger.

I tried not to ease drop on their practicing, but its very hard to stay at my table while their blowing my mind with how well they’re doing at implementing this system.

I was all smiles as I heard one of my student’s say, “I heard you retell what I just read to you.  Good job!” {Content, sigh……cheesy smile}

What?! Are you kidding?  Where has the Daily 5 been all of my life?! Why don’t more people know about it?  If a first grader can lean over and congratulate her reading partner for retelling using appropriate language and voice level after only 6 days of school, I can’t wait to see what we’ll be doing during second semester!

I’m just amazed and so grateful for literally stumbling upon it while blog hopping! I know all things happen for a reason.  Its just one more reason to be excited about blogging!

What’s up next?  Launching Listen to Reading….

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Well, its after 12 am and that mean old alarm clock will be screaming at me in a few short hours!  I’ll be back soon with more to share!  Beginning the year has been extremely overwhelming! Hopefully, I’ll find a balanced rhythm {SOON}!!

Thanks for stopping by! Happy teaching!


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