Sunday, August 31, 2014

First Week Jitters

Hellllo……is anybody out there? Can you hear me now…OR are you coming out of a first week coma too!?? I think I might've forgotten how much work goes into the first week of first grade! Don’t laugh….BUT it reminds me of child birth. Only the labor is spread out over an entire week! My bed is still perfectly made from a week ago because I never made it to sleep in it last week! I dropped as soon as I could right onto the couch and found myself waking up there each morning. Thank God for a charged iphone battery and SEVERAL morning alarms!


Now that I’ve regained a little of my senses, I’m checking in with Kacey for a little Five for Friday catching up!

With each passing day, routines and procedures began to take shape. Our first crack at building stamina lasted for a whole whopping 30 seconds! I was flipping cartwheels (in my imagination) by Friday for having built it up to a whole 7 minutes!

I usually draw our anchor charts, but with the sonshine having started his first football season the same time as school, well……ain’t nobody got time for that! Clipart spruced up our anchor chart and to keep them uniform, I’ll be printing pictures for all 5 of them.


I did, however, whip out this little guy over a cup of yogurt Tuesday morning! This chart was definitely the class favorite of the week. We’ve learned that we can do tough stuff without quitting or giving up! There were lots of smiles as we raised our arms to flex our muscles before practicing read to self each day…


By Friday….we had gotten to know each other a little better and were ready to be on our feet for some learning fun. We used Dr. Jean’s Rhythm rhyme to generate a list of rhyming words. These little items came from Lakeshore Learning’s rhyming basket. Each student was given an object to “hide” in their hands. When I gave them the signal “ready…rhyme” they walked around the room to find their matching rhyming partner. 

Learning on our feet? Fun!


Later that day, we also learned how to format our math journals. The sheet of chart paper is laminated. Each day, I’ll write and wipe 4 spiral review topics for students to copy and complete in their math journals. Because this was our intro lesson….we worked through one square at a time. I covered the remaining squares with construction paper so they wouldn’t get overwhelmed. As students begin checking into math writing next week, they will work through all 4 squares at their own pace.

Introducing this activity whole group allowed  me to see who has trouble copying too. Now, I know how many students I will need to provide a copy to glue into their journal.


….and you know that last post? The one about the room set up? How happy I was with the finished product? Perfect plan…..? Ha! You know what happened the minute the kids showed up, right? Yep! I found out what really worked and what really did not! Kids know best…..and every afternoon, I tweaked things until we got to a format that will work best for all of us.

There’ll be no riding dead horses for us. What doesn’t work, gets tweaked until it does! 

I think this one is a winner!

Lesson plans included lots of Kindergarten review and time for getting to know one another.

Today was a day of rest….tomorrow, it’ll be time to prep for week 2! As we get ready to move full speed ahead, I thought it might be a good time for a little pick me up! A little something to help get energized….How about a fun Give Away? I can’t send you a caffeine boost, but I can help with adding a little fun to those fingertips as they work to mold little firsties!


The first week is a wrap! Enter below to have a little fun and win some Jamberry nail wraps from my teaching bud, Dani! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Classroom Reveal {Where I Work}

Hi, Friends! I’m linking up with fab ladies of Blog Hoppin’ to share where I work. I promised a reveal into my little home away from home and well….here it is!


This is my little space. The place where I spend more time than I probably do my own home, the place where the magic happens… happy place, my classroom!


This is the view from the door…as you enter the room. Which do you prefer…desks or tables? This will be the first year, I’ve used tables. As you can see, I was too nervous to fully let go of the desks, lol! I can be a little indecisive sometimes! The desks may also serve as another storage option, if needed.

How will I seat a class of 22 with only 5 desks?! Glad you asked! =) As you view each picture, you’ll find there are still a total of 22 chairs available for students to be seated at a desk or table. By utilizing the guided reading table and writing station table, each student has a chair. Do I make students work at a desk or table? No. If they are more comfortable and productive in a “special chair”, I allow them to sit where they will be successful. We will have class discussions about the true meaning of fairness. We will also work together as a school family to make sure each of us has access to what we need (not what we want).




This is my little corner of the classroom. Like most things, I share it with the kids….um, I guess that means it really isn’t my little corner, huh?! 


I do not have a traditional desk. I use the guided reading table as my desk space and house supplies that will be needed for small group on the shelf behind the table. We’ll use the blue pocket chart for our Fundations letter cards. The black bulletin boards will house vocabulary cards, student work or anchor charts for the corresponding subject areas.


To the left of my table is our classroom library. The two shelves that house books are organized by topic and level. Students are allowed to browse both shelves. The board above the library will house learning about science and social studies topics. (That’s the plan… least.) The blue chairs were purchased with my little friends that will need extra wiggle time in mind. =)


Here’s a closer look at leveled bins and student book boxes. I found the book boxes and adhesive labels at Dollar Tree! Score! The plastic bins are from Target.


I’m still working on adding books for the beginning of the year to these bins.


Students will work on writing in this area of the room…


Space under the table is used to house classroom library books.


Because I’ve chosen to incorporate tables into our setup, I had to rethink storage. This ottoman will serve as comfy seating for reading and writing…AND double as storage for dictionaries and reading books. The writing display has examples for students to use as a guide. Later on, student work will be clipped over the examples. I’m guessing, the pillows will spend a little more time on the floor once school starts than neatly placed on top and that’s fine with me. The goal is for students to be comfortably engaged.

The little pink container is holding lapboards.





I’m still waiting on a few details to be delivered by my local friendly UPS delivery man, but all in all…the room is put together and ready to greet a fresh crew of cuties! You’ll also notice that my walls are pretty bare. That’s done very intentionally.  Once the kids and I begin learning, the walls will be filled with anchor charts and student work that will show evidence of what we’re learning in the classroom…

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my room.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's Bright Idea Time!

HI, Friends! How are ya? It’s time for another round of bright ideas!


This one…is a favorite! My son’s teacher from last year actually inspired it! Let’s get to it!


Journaling has become all the rage in classrooms all over the country! I love using journals in the classroom, BUT always hesitated to store them in stations for students because I didn’t want those pesky spirals to get tangled. Composition notebooks are PERFECT, BUT….can be a bit pricey!


Even still, there were times that I’ve tried to store notebooks in bins only to have an upset kiddo struggle to detangle his journal from a friend’s in order to get to work. Well, thanks to the nifty thinking of a certain lovely, 3rd grade teacher……we shall detangle NO MORE!


With a handy dandy roll of duct tape and scissors….you can solve your tangled spiral problems like this…..


Use the dotted line that runs down the front of the spiral as a guide to adhere a length of duct tape. Turn the notebook over onto its cover and fold the duct tape over the spiral to adhere to the back of the notebook.


Lay open and flat to double check that you haven’t stuck any writing pages together. =)


….and viola! Instant “composition books”….no tangles….AND with all the different types of duct tape available now, you can color code for organization too! No more mixed up, tangled spiral notebooks! Thanks, Mr. Love! Love ya!

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for more great ideas.

For more bright ideas from more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 11, 2014

I confess….

….I love structure! I love knowing what to expect. I love knowing what is expected of me….and why it’s important. Can I let you in on a little secret? Your students do too!

My favorite thing to teach? Literacy!!!! All day….every day! It’s the heartbeat of our classroom. If you’ve read my little blog for any period of time, you know that I’ve written several posts about my love for The Daily 5. Can I let you in on another little secret? I didn’t like it when I first heard of it! {GASP!!!} I know….. My first impression was Whaaaat?! You mean just let my kids choose what they want to do?

And then, rather than argue the point of something I really wasn’t informed about……I read the book! The more I read, the more intrigued I got. The more I read, I realized…I was already doing many of the things mentioned…just called by a different name or organized differently. What I grew to love the most was the intentional building of principled habits instead of managing student behavior.

Does your school model PBIS or CHAMPS? Again…..principled, preventative, positive habits that teach students to SELF MANAGE! Holla!!! If my students can self manage, if they can make positive choices that will impact their learning…..what’s not to like?

BUT Daily 5 is NOT balanced literacy! I KNOW! Ha!

By definition, balanced literacy is a method of teaching reading in which phonics and whole language approaches are BOTH used to maximize student learning. Bloop! That’s it…in a nutshell. 

The Daily 5 is a positive approach to classroom management that fosters literacy. Balanced Literacy is managed by Daily 5. It’s the structure…the “how to”. It’s the building of muscle memory, so you can address the components of balanced literacy with minimal interruption. The two don't compete with each other, they compliment each other.


…and can we keep it all the way real? You simply can not teach a class that you can not manage. Building relationships and routines has to take place before you can even think of diving into teaching anything, including balanced literacy. Balanced literacy is not a new concept to early childhood teachers. It’s what we do!

In 1st grade, it may look a little like this….


The components are all connected….


…and have to be interesting and FUN!


Though the components are the same and should all be integrated, it will look a little different in each classroom because it is driven by assessment and reflecting on student needs.


While balanced literacy will be your all encompassing umbrella, differentiation of activities for students to complete independently will allow you to meet with small groups. Getting to small group is the BIG goal of your literacy block because its at the guided reading table that the most important work begins!




Ask any of my students what their favorite time of day was and they’ll gladly tell you…… “Daily 5” time. Whether you call it stations, centers or reading….what’s important is students knowing they’re working to become better readers and writers. Love structure? Yep…..I confess. I do. Love balanced literacy? Yep! I do. Would I want to teach without building principled habits? Absolutely not! Will I teach BOTH as we begin the school year? YES! 

Taking the time during those first 20 days of school to instill a classroom community that will foster successful literate kiddos is a no brainer! We’ve gotta do it, peeps! It’s honestly, what I’m looking forward to the most! And Week 5, when it all comes together is such a beautiful thing!

So the next time someone tells you Daily 5 is not balanced literacy….just smile and ask them if they’ve read the book…….it’s always a great time to learn something new.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Five for Friday~Sneak Peek

Hi Friends! How are ya?

It’s been a busy last couple of days as I finally got my hands on those golden keys! With August having rolled in….the only thing on the brain has been unpacking and getting set up. After 3 days of unpacking, sorting, organizing and finally decorating…I’ve got a little sneak peek ready for ya! Wanna have a look see at what our little home away from home is gonna look like this year?

Come on in! It's time for...Five for Friday!


I’m about 99% done……-ish! =)


I love inspirational quotes. Words have power! As my kiddos enter our classroom, I want them to always see a little something that will inspire them to learn and be the best they can be. I’m going to add the word ‘create’ to the board as well. Being a clutter free gal kicks me in the rear every now and then because when I looked for another set of letters to use, I didn’t have any more! No biggie…I’ll whip up a little something.


Lockers have been numbered. We won’t go totally without student names. As we create activities throughout the year, they’ll have the opportunity to display work with their name on their lockers for all the world to see!


Beginning Day 1…..I want these two words to guide the beliefs of our classroom climate. I can……and I will be successful! Please ignore the “leather like” paper. It’s not as wrinkled as it appears….and will be covered with student work soon. I’m still giggling a little because I didn’t realize the roll of fadeless paper that I purchased didn’t have a matte finish. It really does look like I decorated our boards with leather!


Looking for pretty prints to add a little flair to your bulletin boards? Try gift wrap! It’s inexpensive, comes in any design you can think of and easy to hang! That chevron paper is from leftover Christmas wrap!


Got wiggles? Students who struggle to sit still? Do you teach 1st grade? If you answered yes to any of these questions….then these fun chairs are for you! Since I brought them into the building, every person that has walked into my room has fallen into them and bounced out with a smile! My son sat and watched an entire movie in one, so I’m guessing they’re pretty comfortable. I’m going to be trying something new with seating this year that I’ll share a little later….these two chairs will be one choice of several student options.

Thanks for stopping by to peek in our room….

Are you trying anything new this year?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fun with Friends {Giveaway}

Hi, Friends! How are ya? Did you hear it? Did you hear the mighty rush of wind last night as the calendar swooshed past July right into the FIRST day of August! Say what?! The summer has come and GONE! But, don’t fret! There’s still just enough time left before heading back to school for some fun to be had!


This Five for Friday is gonna be all about classroom prep and fun with friends!


I started the week with a bite from the decorating bug and made a few pretty changes to my home work space.


…then made sure to grab school supplies during Walmart’s Teacher Appreciation sale. Can I just admit, that makes my teacher heart take a big leap looking at all those supplies? My mommy heart, went……WHOA!!! LOL!


Being creative also spilled over into classroom prep. I had been working on a simple display for my work on writing station in the classroom for the last few weeks. This week…I finally wrapped it up and was so excited to get it laminated, cut and prepped to roll out in the classroom! 

Want a quick easy way to display student work? Check out the clip above! These little clips will house labels for different writing types that we’ll do throughout the year. They’ll also provide an easy way to “clip” student work to the board as they complete excellent work!
My awesome team got together for the first time to throw around ideas and lots of yummy food. Before we knew it, 5 whole hours had rolled by! It’s gonna be a GREAT year!

I’ve also been in the midst of doing a little planning with my virtual firstie friends too! How about a little GIVEAWAY FUN? That should make that quick calendar change a little easier to bear. Check out the details below and don’t forget to head over to our FB fanpage to enter!

Enjoy these last few days! August is HERE!

Are you ready for a HUGE giveaway? I have gathered together with some AMAZING teacher bloggers and we have put together a fantastic set of prizes for you. We have 42 bloggers participating, so we are giving away a prize pack of 14 products each to 3 winners! :) You can enter on the Firstie Friends Facebook Page, and you can earn a LOT of entries. Go to the tabs under the header picture and click the tab that says "Giveaway". The giveaway will end on Sunday, August 4th at 8pm CST. At the bottom of this post you will also find links to ALL of my Firstie Friends' stores! :)


Thank you so much for reading! Good luck in the giveaway!


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