Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resolutions/New Years Linky Parties!

I'm linking up with a few fun bloggers for some linky parties!

First, from A Peach for the Teach! I just found her blog. Love it!

(Click my picture to link up!) 

Personal: Be more positive. My post from yesterday was all about how difficult 2013 was for me. With a new year ahead, it's time to be more positive! 

Professional: Organize my intervention groups better. I feel like I am on the fly with intervention, when really it should be based more on assessment and student work. I would like to find ways to organize my groups better and make intervention a more meaningful time in my schedule.

Classroom: Make my classroom more "homey". I recently moved to this classroom and I unpacked it, decorated, and it works for now. But I would love to make it more of a home. I've moved so much over the last 5 years and I plan to stay here, if I can!

Blog/TPT: Blog more! I have so many ideas in my head and photos I've taken and thought, "that would be a good blog post!" I vow to get there :) 2014 is a new start!

Just for fun: Go somewhere warm. I would love a nice vacation :)

Next up.. Sunny Days in Second Grade! I'm linking up for My Truth Monday (on Tuesday..whoops) for her one little word linky!

My one little word for this year is breathe. If my not-so-great end to 2013 taught me anything, it's that I'm NOT always in control, I can't always make it perfect, and if I can't do anything about it, why worry? Breathe. What's yours?

Finally, Thirteen in '13. As much as I can't wait to say goodbye to this year, I'll take a little time to reflect! 

I'm linking up with Miss Kindergarten, a teeny tiny teacher, and Dragonflies in First!

My ugg minis. So comfy. Although I still can only wear one thanks to my broken leg.

Love, love, love!

I have so many... it's hard to choose!

"Camp" in Meredith, NH! This cute little place is located where we got married.

Hmmm.. I totally changed my spelling and word work routines after visiting Teachers College this past July in NYC. I am loving it and so are the kids! Posts to follow :)

My husband got me this ring for Christmas this year. After a tough year, this stone has special meaning and I love it.

I am a pinning machine... it's hard to pick one! 
I made these cowboy cookies (skipped the nuts and added M&Ms... why not!) for Christmas and they came out SO good! 

My classroom tour post. I love looking at how my classroom came together in 2 very short weeks after a big move!

Several things that happened in my personal life this year were incredibly difficult, and for me, the fact that I'm still hanging on is a huge accomplishment. 

Lola and her boyfriend on Halloween! So cute!

My nephew was born this year, and meeting him for the first time is my favorite memory of 2013 :) 



Monday, December 30, 2013

A resolution (and some freebies!)

To say that 2013 (and particularly the last three months of 2013) have been challenging for me is an understatement. This year was full of loss and heartbreak for me, my friends, and family. This post will not be about the negative things (I hope), but resolutions and my hopes for the new year. After losing a close family friend early in the year, moving to a new school (again) and then to another new school (read my post here), I was excited to begin the school year back in first grade with a fresh start. This year, like all years, presented me with new challenges that are typical school-related challenges. On October 5th, my world changed.  That evening, I broke my leg badly. Everything changed. I had a spiral fracture, and it was bad. I needed surgery, and I couldn't have it for other reasons. I was completely reliant on others- family, my husband, coworkers, for weeks and months. I was on crutches, struggling as a teacher, and struggling with no independence. It was rough. In November, I moved to a walking cast, and I'm now beginning to gain some independence. In the meantime, there were other things that were difficult and made things more complicated. Life got in the way.

Why am I writing this? Because for three months, my life has gotten in the way of me being the teacher I wanted to be, and still want to be. 2014 is a new year for me. I'm going back to work with a positive outlook. I resolve to get back to blogging, because it's something I loved (and still love!) to do. It inspires me to be a better teacher, and I'm hopeful that returning to blogging and creating will help me all around. I have lots of pictures and ideas and things I've been collecting and blog posts in my head to share, so hopefully this resolution will push me to finally write them!

Thanks for sticking around and reading that! I've gotten back to creating a bit, and here's a few freebies to check out. I realize some are holiday related, but maybe you can still use some when you return from break! Click the pictures to go to TpT to download these freebies. I love your feedback :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Teachers Helping Illinois, TpT Cyber Monday Sale!

There are some amazing bundles available to benefit Illinois tornado victims on TpT! My woodland animals unit is just one unit available in the different packs of amazing products by awesome TpT sellers. Please stop over to the TpT store (click the button below) and purchase one or all of these packs.

Also, on Monday and Tuesday TpT is having a cyber Monday sale! My store is on sale for 20% off plus the additional TpT discount - making everything 28% off! I know that my cart is already loaded with stuff I've had my eye on for awhile. 

My December math journal prompts are up and will be on sale - as is my bundle of math journal prompts, which includes February, March, April/May, Autumn, and December. Any prompts added will be added to the bundle and will be a free download for those who already own it - January is coming soon :)

Enjoy the sale! :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm back... bearing a freebie :)

One and a half more weeks until my cast is off. Then I will take pictures, do fabulous activities, and have more of my Beyonce teaching days. Beyonce days are my meeting with three reading groups, five reading conferences, corrected all of the work, passed out all of the papers, blogged to parents, uploaded photos, did a fabulous math lesson, and overall, just rocked. I have had approximately zero Beyonce days since breaking my leg. Ugh. I did, however, dust the cobwebs off of my laptop and I created something my kids really need! I am doing a new model of spelling and word work this year, with a 10 day rotation/focus on sight and spelling words, and one of the centers I am incorporating is a listening center... but I didn't want it to just be listening to books on CD. I wanted to make it a fluency center as well! So, either using iPads or the Toobaloos, my kids can use these cards (I plan to laminate and organize on to binder rings by short a words, short o words, snap words, and sentences) to practice their fluency! You could use a timer on the iPad or a regular stop watch/timer, or not. In the past, I sometimes have my kids use the Voice Record app to record themselves on 4 different trials and have them beat their time. They can work in partners or solo! Last year, these kinds of centers were a big hit. I'm hoping this has the same effect! The pic below will take you to this Frosty Fluency activity on my TpT, or just click to download from Scribd. Enjoy!

Believe it or not, I'm also working on some other TpT related products! Hooray! :o)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I am back (and I'll try to be better)

I have been missing in action for over a month now. I broke my fibula in early October and have just been struggling all around ever since. I've had 3 casts, I'm on crutches, and trying to still be a good teacher. I haven't done a lot of "good" stuff that is worth blogging about lately because being on crutches in first grade is next to impossible. I have a particularly challenging group this year, and though I do love them, this has been a stressful year thus far! I have three weeks left with a cast and crutches, but I miss blogging and I promise to be back soon. I haven't even been reading blog posts from you guys! :( so here's to being better! :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Giveaway winner!

Well, I broke my leg this weekend. I'm casted for 6-12 weeks, can't drive, can't move, and with no idea how to teach first grade with a cast. UGH! Anyway, here's my winner for my TpT giveaway!

Karen, I just sent you an e-mail! :)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

200 Followers on TpT - A Giveaway, Sale, AND Freebie!

I've just hit 200 followers on TpT! To celebrate, I'm having a sale! 20% off my store until Oct. 5. Also, I'm going to celebrate with a giveaway! Enter my rafflecopter below to win a $20 gift certificate to TpT and and item from my store! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ALSO, check out my new freebie on TpT!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Teaching Writer's Workshop (plus a QR code freebie!)

I love to teach writing in first grade! They make so much growth over the course of the year. I thought I would share some of my workshop tips with you since I have been absent from blogging (and very, very tired :)). I use the Lucy Calkins Writer's Workshop books aligned to the common core, as well as some of my own ideas mixed in. We are currently in a small moments unit of study. I begin each workshop with a mini-lesson focused on a specific skill or concept.

I begin the unit by brainstorming what we can write about as a group. This chart is hung up as a reference for the entire "small moment" writing unit. Many of my writers this year try to tell me that they don't know what to write about, so I refer them to the chart! I am thinking about printing a copy of this for each of their writing folders with lines for them to add on other ideas as well. 

Each student has their own blue writing folder. I didn't take a picture, but on the left side, there is a red dot sticker, and on the right side, a green dot sticker. The red side holds stories that are done and the green side holds stories that are in progress. This helps organize their work and makes it easier for them to find what they're working on when it's time to write.
 These are two great books I use when I am launching my Reader's and Writer's workshops. Rocket is an easy character to relate to!

These are my writing caddies. They are also used for crafts, which is why there is glue in there! The special markers are just for writer's workshop or craft times. I also allow the use of staplers and staple removers, tape, paper clips, "people" color crayons and markers, and various kinds of paper. A lot of the beginning workshops are about management and expectations, as well as lots of review on writing (stretching out words, hearing all the sounds, etc.). 

We start writing on single pages, but by week 2, we are working on stretching out our story across multiple pages, and including a beginning, middle and end. To do this, we need to discuss how to write a story. Step 1 is to think of an idea, step 2 is to plan by touching each page while telling to story to a partner and sketching with pencil (no words yet), and step 3 is to write the story. My kids have writing partners that sit next to them at their tables so that they are able to plan with them and get help from them.
Booklets are usually introduced at this time- 3 pages for writing and a blank cover. Also, we begin talking about adding details (see poster below). We also talk about matching our pictures to words and making our pictures "5 star". 

The hardest thing to teach (for me) is how to write a small moment and not a giant, watermelon story. I taught that lesson for the first time today! I read a lot of "small moment" mentor texts over the first few weeks of school so that they are familiar to the students when I refer to them for writer's workshop. They are full of great details and awesome story lines. Here are my favorites: 

Today, we made a poster with a watermelon on it (I wish I took a pic!) and talked about taking a watermelon topic (I modeled with going through our whole school day, saying "and then... and then...") and finding a tiny seed inside that great big watermelon. We decided that "changing desks" was a good seed to go with. I also mentioned that watermelons have tons of seeds - so if your watermelon is your trip to Disney world, you might have 5 seed stories to go with it, zooming in on teeny tiny moments during your vacation (i.e., waiting in line forever to ride Space Mountain and feeling so nervous). This takes a lot of practice! I conferred with kids 1:1 today (I got to about half the class) and tried to help them find seed stories within their watermelon topics. We continue to use our mentor texts to help us with it. When I gave this mini lesson today, I referred back to "Night of the Veggie Monster" and how the author could have written about how they eat dinner and his son doesn't like vegetables but he has to eat them anyway and then... and then.... but he instead tells a funny, detailed small moment story about it! This book is a must buy! 

Not at all writing related, but I just created this for my iPad course that I am teaching for K-1 teachers. It is a number matching game with QR codes (you don't have to use the QR code cards if you don't want to or don't have access to iPads/iPods). It's good review! :) Hope you like it!