Tuesday, December 11, 2012

12 in 12 Linky Party

12.  Favorite Movie You Watched
This is not starting out well.  I honestly do not think I've watched a movie all year.  How sad is that?  I'm obviously not a big movie watcher - plus Mr. Husband and I hate movie theaters.  He hates all the popcorn chomping and whispering.  I hate lice that is probably on the seats.  

11. Favorite TV Series
Does Hoarders Buried Alive count? I LOVE that show!  I don't watch much TV.  

10.  Favorite Restaurant
Good news here...I do eat a lot of food.  My favorite restaurant is Dan's Downtown Tavern.  You'll have to come to Michigan to eat there (it's a one and only).  It's not fancy.  I hate fancy restaurants.  I like to be able to recognize my food. They serve yummy pub style food at Dan's and they know my drink order by heart.

9. Favorite New Thing I've Tried
This year, we started going to a new church.  I'm not sure my family is thrilled with my decision to attend a non-Catholic church.   But,  we are feeling relieved to find a place where we feel welcomed and comfortable.  Last year my OLW was faith... changing churches was a major leap of faith for me.

8.  Favorite Gift You've Received
I have 2 favorite gifts this year...
1.  Mr. Handy (husband) made me a table.  I LOVE it!  It's a farm style table.  It fits in our new kitchen perfectly.  Here is a picture...

2.  Mr. Handy (husband) also made me a mantel for Christmas.  We still have to stain it, but I'm already in love!  He will freak out if I post pictures of the unfinished project.  So, I'll post pictures when it is finished.  

7.  Favorite Thing You Pinned
In my next life (or sooner if the Governor keeps up with his current shenanigans), I'm going to be Goldilocks and I'm going to take a really quiet nap in a fancy bed like this one.  No one is going to tap my shoulder.  No one is going to say, "Mrs. Gillow, Mrs. Gillow, Mrs. Gillow".  No one is going to ask me where they should put their paper when they are done.  I'm just going to fluff the pillows and sleep in total silence.

6.  Favorite Blog Post
I think my favorite blog post is the one about my writing anchor chart.  I love how it is working in my room.  My students are using it daily and I even used it as a tool to discuss writing goals with parents at conferences last month.  You can click on the picture below to read the post.

5.  Favorite Accomplishment
Our new house is my favorite accomplishment this year.  After spending 2 years in "for sale mode", we sold in the first few days of the 2012.  We got a great deal on our new house and are now able to save lots more money for college for our kids and retirement.  Our friends thought we were crazy trying to sell (in this market) when we didn't really have to sell.  But, these 2 teachers had a plan and we can declare our mission accomplished.  We love our new home!

4.  Favorite Picture
How cute are these munchkins!?!?  I took this picture with my new camera (another favorite gift from Mr. Husband).  Marissa (age 9) and Donavon (age 6) are my own little ones.  They are really good kids and we are super proud parents.  We are truly blessed!

3.  Favorite Memory
My favorite memory this year was visiting Amish country in southern Ohio.  I have always been fascinated by the way Amish people live.  I will admit that it felt a bit like being in a time warp to visit a place that does not rely on technology like we do.  At the same time, it was refreshing to have a chance to appreciate the most simple things in life. Our family learned a lot and will definitely visit again.

2.  Goal for 2013
My goal for 2013 is to try really hard not to let the drama surrounding education in our state effect my health.  Last year, I started clenching my teeth at night and ended up with a swollen face, numb jaw and lots of pain.  I actually thought I might have a rotten tooth from consuming a disgusting amount of chocolate.  The dentist laughed about that and told me to avoid stress.   I will try really, really hard not to stress out about things that are out of my control.  Not sure if it will work, but for the sake of my teeth I should probably try.

1.  One Little Word
I officially declare my one little word...RELAX.  I am honestly not very good at relaxing.  It kind of feels like a waste of time to me to be honest.  It makes me feel guilty. Although, I am jealous of all those people who know how to relax without feeling guilty.   This year, I am going to try to relax more.  I really need to.  I'm going to watch a little more TV, not set my clock every Saturday, sit on the porch and read a book and watch the stars on my balcony.  Maybe I'll even watch a movie or two, so I can have a favorite for 2013. :)

Relax - yep that is the word that can trigger a big fat argument if my husband says it to me. "Just relax"...blah, blah, blah.  He actually doesn't say it anymore. :)  

But, the truth is that I do need to relax.  I'm gonna need a support group for this one. Oy...

Click on the 12 in 12 image at the top to visit the linky party to read/link up! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Everyone Needs One

Everyone needs...an Emily. 

 My good friend, Emily, is a retired teacher. It's been about 5 years since she retired. I'm still trying to get over the fact that she is no longer in "her" room. Emily has always been a mentor to me. She is someone I look up to. She is someone I never want to disappoint. 

 The lucky part is that once a week, she visits my room. Yep, that's right. Emily has been volunteering one day a week in my room as a gift to me (and my students) for the past 3 years. She works with students, organizes my mess, listens to me vent and helps me/my students with special projects. She comes in the morning and stays the whole day!  My students love her and ask about her when she is not there.  She is amazing!
Each time she comes, I worry that I have not thanked her enough. I promised her that I would gift a teacher the same gift when I retire. I feel so lucky to have her help. 

 Last month, she gave me another gift. It was better than my favorite flowers, better than chocolate turtles and just as great as a winning lottery ticket. During one of her visits (and in between me whining about the curriculum and my conference schedule), she told me that she wants me to know that I am a good teacher. Those words and her weekly visits mean more to me than Emily will ever know. 

 Every teacher needs an Emily. Some day, I'm going to try really hard to be "Emily" for someone else who needs her as much as I do.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Snowman Subtraction Sort Freebie

Happy Sunday!  

Today, I'm sharing freebie #5 of the week (oops - maybe the week was over yesterday).  I appreciate each of you and the many new friends I've made since I started blogging. Please visit my posts from last week, if you didn't have a chance to download the first 4 freebies.

 You can download a copy of this snowman themed subtraction sort by clicking on the image below.  If you like it, please leave a comment.  I really do love comments. :)

This girl is going to bed early!  Have a great week!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dancin' Teachers and Snowman Addition Freebie

Fun weekend at our house! 

 Last night, my husband (a teacher) and several other teachers at his school won our annual Schools of Rock competition. Teachers from each school in the district perform routines (dancing mostly) in a competition that serves as a fundraiser for our educational foundation. 

Below... is my groovy husband. And if you click on his photo, you can visit the link that will play the video of his staff in their award winning routine. They rocked the stage (and won 1st place for the 2nd year in a row).  

I'm starting to think middle school teachers are just more fun (or at least better dancers)...check it out and see what you think.  I'm pretty sure my middle school wood shop teacher couldn't dance like that.

And a freebie for you...

Off to walk the dogs and take a nap, so I can cross both off my lazy Saturday list. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Addition Math Boxes (Freebie)

A quick post...which I meant to do last night (but I ended up waiting in the urgent care  waiting room for the whole evening instead).  Oy... today was much better.

This week, I'm celebrating all of you with 5 freebies!  This is #3.  If you missed the others, please head back to my 2 previous posts if you'd like to download the 1st two.

Today was kind of a stressful day at the office if ya know what I mean.  Actually, it's been a bit much all week.  I have a really nice class.  If I could just hide in my room with my kids (and avoid the hallway drama, the curriculum disasters and the doom that is lurking in our state government), life would be so much less stressful.

So, I'll end with three simple things that I'm thankful for (just in case any of you had a similar week).

1.  I'm thankful for kids that have good manners (my students have  great manners - really).

2. I'm thankful for the mom who stopped me in the hallway today to tell me that her daughter hated reading until she met me. (The little girl was in my reading intervention program 3 years ago.)

3. I'm thankful for my next door teacher neighbor (and friend).  She smiles when I barge through our secret door (which connects our classrooms) to tell her something not very important about every 20 minutes throughout the day.  And...she shares recess duty with me.  It is so nice to have a friendly neighbor on the other side of our secret door. Love ya, Jenny!

Yippee!  It's almost Friday!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Funky Fun Freebie #2 (List Making Writing)

Thanks for helping me celebrate!  This post contains freebie #2 for this week...so if you missed #1 yesterday you should could go back and grab it.

During writer's workshop, I've been talking about the things that good writers do to help organize their ideas.  We did a mini-lesson this week about list making.  I started by showing them my special pink notebook.  It's really just an lined journal with a pink leather cover that holds my precious "to do" list.  I love to put little check marks by each of the things on my list.

I also read the book, Everything to Spend the Night  by Ann Whitford Paul.  It's about a little girl who takes "everything from A to Z" to her grandpa's house for a sleepover - but she forgets her pajamas. 

I wanted my students to practice making a list about a specific topic.  I modeled "everything to bake cookies" first. 

Then I had my students write a list about "everything to make hot chocolate".  They brainstormed ideas with a partner first (just in case someone has not had hot chocolate before).  Then we shared our ideas with the group in a circle before each child worked on his/her own list.  They were super excited to work on this project. They will be using the lists they made today to help them get started on their how to writing project tomorrow.

What my students don't know yet is that we will be having a hot chocolate and candy cane publishing party in two weeks!

You can click on the image below to download a copy of a few winter themed list writing pages.   

I'm off to drop my daughter off at dance class, walk the dogs and bake cookies!

I love cookies and comments! :) 

Monday, December 3, 2012

1500 Hooray! (5 Funky Fun Freebies)

I'm ALMOST to 1500 followers! I have not been posting as much as I want to this year, but I'm doing my best to post a couple times a week. I still remember when my goal was 15 followers. How funny is that!? That was back in the day when I could barely attach a document to my post, I had no Funky First Grade Fun facebook page and I had never heard of Tpt or Pinterest. My how things have changed in just a few years! 

 I owe a huge thank you to all of you! Thank you for following my blog. Thank you for liking my facebook page. Thank you for following my Tpt store. Thank you for making my Teachers Notebook shop one of your favorites. Thank you for pinning my ideas/products. Thank you for all of your purchases. And...thank you for the super nice comments that always make me smile!  I feel so lucky to have made so many new teacher friends.  I'm inspired each day when I read all of the blogs I follow.

Now, on to the celebration!

Here is the first freebie of the week.  You can click on the image below to download a copy.  If you do, please leave a comment to let me know you grabbed it. 

And please...someone send a friend so I really can get to 1500!  

Coming throughout the week...the other freebies.  Hope to see you back here soon.  Thank you for following my little old blog!  

Happy Monday (it's almost over so that seems ok to say now)!

December Currently

It's time for Farley's December version of Currently!
Head over to visit Farley so you can read/link up/share some love by leaving a comment for other bloggers.
Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jolly Moose Short Vowel Sort

Hot off the press... I just added my Jolly Moose Short Vowel Sort to my Tpt store and my Teachers Notebook shop.

Here are two other things that I added within the last week or so.

I have plenty of other non-holiday related items 
and the good news is that everything is on sale right now.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Merry Monkey Digraph Sort (sale!)

In between visiting family and shopping online (the only way I can handle shopping when the stores are so crowded)...I added another new item to my Tpt store and my Teachers Notebook shop. 

 You might like this if you'll be working on digraphs (or reviewing digraphs) in the next month or so. The regular price is $1.50, so with all the sales going on you can get it for much less in the next couple days. You can click on the image below to check it out.
I also loaded a set of holiday themed making words activities last week. This set is regularly priced at $2.00. It's also on sale right now (along with all of the products in both of my stores).
Now about those sales...
In addition to the 20% off that I am offering... 
Teachers Notebook is offering an additional 10% off from Saturday (11/24) - Monday (11/26). 
Tpt is offering an additional 10% off from Monday (11/26) - Tuesday (11/27). 

 My virtual shopping cart is loaded already. But, I'm pretty sure I can fit a little more in. Oh, happy day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Making Words (and Sale Announcement)

19 parent conferences down, 6 more to go!  I think I can.  I think I can.

 Two quick things before I head off for round 2. I just posted a Holiday Making Words pack on Tpt and at Teachers Notebook. My kids love trying to make as many little words as they can out of a bigger word. So, I created a holiday pack with several different versions. We will be using these in our working with words center (and sometimes for morning work) during the next several weeks. You can click on the preview below to check it out.
Have a I confessed that I don't know how to cook? Now, my secret is out. I have a chef husband who is a fabulous cook. So, the only thing I could think of to do (while everyone else is cooking to prepare for Thanksgiving) is to throw a SALE!

 I appreciate all of you so much. Here are the details...

Ding, ding, ding... ROUND 2 (parent conferences)!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Evidence In a Bag

I must admit that in my many years as a teacher, I have wondered (many times) if students are really listening to me. Last week was my birthday, and I was gifted "evidence" that they really do notice something other than my bad hair days or that I forgot to change the visual schedule on a particular morning. I cried happy tears when I opened the fancy pink gift bag one of my precious students handed me on my birthday. Here is the evidence!

Oh, happy day!  I cried.  I jumped up and down.  I hugged little J.  She beamed and said, "It was really hard to convince my mom that I should give you a jar, but I just know how much you love jars.  You have jars for everything around here and you smile when you say, "Go get one out of the jar"!  She's right.  I do LOVE jars and I love that she noticed something so simple.  She said her mom made her put the apple in it, because they didn't have any bananas (my favorite fruit).  I tell ya, I could still shed happy tears just thinkin' about that sweet little gal and her perfect gift.

This week I'm going to pack 25 parent/teacher conferences into 2 half days and one late evening and I'm going to spend some time being thankful for my students and the fact that they really do listen and pay attention.  I have evidence.

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Please help me send some support...

Have you ever walked out of your classroom discouraged, cried on the way home or thought about looking for a different job? 

I just about cried when I read Katie's post at Katie Lately. She needs our support. We've all had days, weeks, years like the one she is having.  If you have a few minutes, please consider heading over to leave a comment for Katie. 

Katie...you are not alone, but you are making a difference each day.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sticky Comprehension (main idea freebie)

Today is my birthday.  I'm almost over the hill, but I don't really care about that.  What I do care about is that I love cupcakes and the only thing I want for my birthday is time to snuggle with my own two kids.  

I did get a new student today (birthday present from my principal).  I also woke up with a migraine.  They did not arrive together.  I'm assuming the migraine is the result of the two math meetings we had this week.  The new student is darling and I'm excited to have her in our class! 

During reader's workshop time in our room, we are working on summarizing, describing our favorite part of the story in pictures/words and identifying the main idea. Earlier this week, we read The Little Scarecrow Boy by Margaret Wise Brown.  It might be illegal to read a scarecrow book after Halloween, but I don't follow that rule (or the blogging only 1 time a day rule or the white shoes/pants/Labor Day old lady rule thing).

After we read the story, each student wrote about their favorite part on a sticky note.  We shared our "sticky thoughts" with a partner and then added them to our "Reading is Thinking" chart for the whole class to read and enjoy.

The next day, we reread the same book to work on the main idea of the story.  I have a big fat file of main idea graphic organizers, but the one below is one that I made a while ago to encourage my students to think, write and talk about the things we read.  You can click on the image below if you'd like to download a copy.  

I'm off to eat something yummy (and horrible for me).  Happy Birthday, to me!  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Weather, Wind and Words

We do a weather unit each year. We use a unit from the Battle Creek Math and Science Center. Our unit is a 16 week unit that we originally worked on for 16 weeks straight. Last year, we decided to try breaking up the lessons in the weather unit. That allows us to teach each type of weather in the season that we are most likely to have that kind of weather in Michigan. So far, that seems to work well for our little learners. 

We started our weather unit 2 weeks ago. So far, we've covered the seasons, tools that measure different types of weather, temperature and wind. 

 Here are my favorite books for our wind lessons.

We made this anchor chart to help us describe the wind, since we record weather data each day.  It's not exactly fancy (and I might have to remake one with the fancy kind of scrapbook paper that I love), but it gives us something to refer to as we record our data.  We added the senses part, because we were working on writing a poem about wind.  The students wanted to include the senses that we use to sense wind on our chart.

Weather related vocabulary is a big part of our unit.  I made a set of weather vocabulary cards to use in a pocket chart throughout the unit.  The set includes 40+ words and two different graphic organizers for weather related vocabulary. 

 Here is a picture of my weather vocabulary chart 
with the words we have learned about so far.

You can click on the image below if you 'd like to check it out in my Tpt store.  

Enjoy your evening!