Thursday, September 27, 2012

Organizing My Mentor Texts

I kind of wish my one little word (OLW) for 2012 would have been organize. It was really "faith", but that's another post and a half that I'm not ready to talk about in cyberspace. Not that you would know by looking at my desk, my office/craft room, kitchen counter or classroom countertops...but I really do love the feeling of organizing specific things. 

I've been working on organizing my mentor texts for specific lessons that I do each year. I decided that it would be easier to put books that I use for reader's workshop lessons, writer's workshop lessons and math lessons in one place, rather than sticking them back in the "cupboard full of books".   

So, I've been using these bins (not very pretty or exciting yet) to help me collect the books that I use each year for specific lessons. The card in front of each book is labeled with the title/author/focus for the lesson. After trying alphabetical order last year, I decided to put them in order of how I would teach each lesson throughout the year. For example, the books that I would use for reader's workshop at the beginning of the year are in the front of the reader's workshop section. It's still a work in progress, but I love the fact that it's easy for me to find the books I need for specific lessons.

Last year, I hosted a linky party about mentor texts for writer's workshop.  You can find the linky party post here.  You can also find the list of mentor texts for writer's workshop that I made from the linky party here.  

Do you organize your mentor texts in a specific spot or leave them with the rest of your books?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend Sale

Just a quick post today to let you know that I'm having a weekend sale in my Tpt store. It actually started yesterday (thank you to those who already visited) and will run until the end of the day tomorrow, 9/24.

I'm off to catch up with my favorite blogs. We've had a busy weekend and I can't went to spend a quiet hour getting lost in your classrooms. If you have a chance to visit my store, thank you in advance!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Personal Reader Folders - Check!

Now that I'm finished with my reading assessments (we didn't start until after Labor Day), I am ready to give extra support to some of my struggling readers and a few students who just need a boost of confidence. 

 Ya know how it's not easy to find lots of books at the lowest reading levels for kids to use to practice? I use personal reader folders in my room for extra practice. You can read two old posts about my personal reader folders by clicking on the links below. 

Personal Reader Folders 

Short Vowel Personal Reader Stories 

Here is a picture of one of my personal reader folders. I usually use scrapbook paper on the covers of plain old 3 pronged folders.  

I write my own stories to use in the personal reader folders. The stories are created with easy text  patterns full of sight words and word family words.  You can find both sets in my Tpt store and my Teachers Notebook shop. You can click on the images below if you want to check them out.

I've been working on a long vowel set for a while now. I am hoping to finish it up and get it posted sometime in the next couple weeks. 

 I should probably go running. My husband and I are using a fitness app together to help us count calories and monitor our exercise. Unfortunately (for him), we are both very competitive and I intend the win our fitness challenge. Game on!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rules in My Classroom

My students this year are doing an amazing job following the rules and routines in the classroom. We have a class motto in my room, but only 2 main rules. The rules are simple. 

 Our 2 Simple Rules 
1. Be kind. 
 2. Work hard. 

 All of the parts to our class motto fit into one of those categories (being kind or working hard). We use a motto that I did not create. I found it on Pinterest. Here is my photo of the one of the copies of our class motto hanging in my room. It is linked to the original source ( if you want to check it out. The site has TONS of other amazing printables!

On Monday, the students in my class worked in groups to sort the parts of our motto into two groups (be kind or work hard).  I made a copy of the class motto and cut it up.  I gave each group of students 2 parts of the motto to discuss.  Each group discussed their parts of the motto and reported to the class which category they chose for each part. We made the anchor chart below together and it will stay up in our room for the whole year (in case we need a review).

Do you use a class motto or have rules posted in your room?

I worked in the hallway doing assessment all day today while my class had a guest teacher.  I'm pretty sure we will need to revisit the chart first thing tomorrow.  I accomplished a lot today (and feel grateful for the time to get some of the assessments done), but I'll be glad to be back in the classroom tomorrow.

Off to pack lunches and double check bags for tomorrow.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Starting Math Journals

Where did the weekend go? We packed as many fun things into the weekend as we could, so I shouldn't be surprised that it went by so fast. 

 Football game on Friday night 
soccer pictures/game on Saturday morning 
boys day for my son and husband at the U of M game 
girls day at the nail salon (plus shopping and ice cream) with my daughter 
Sunday School 
and football practice today 
Overscheduled? Yes!   Fun? Yes!    Tired? Yep.    Worth it? Absolutely! 

 My students worked in their math journals for the first time on Friday. One of the first things I do in 1st grade is make a few anchor charts called "All About the Number...". We made a few of those over the past 2 weeks. You can find several different versions floating around on Pinterest. Before we start working in our math journals, I want my students to know that there are lots of different ways to represent each number. I wasn't allowed to draw pictures, use tally marks, explain my thinking in words or make the number on a 5 frame when I was in elementary school. The nuns wouldn't let me.  Anyway.......... here is one of the anchor charts we made about the number 5.

On Friday, I asked the students to choose a number between 2 and 5. Each student made their own "All About the Number" page on the first page of their math journal. Here is a sample of one of the pages. I encouraged each student to represent their number in a variety of ways, so we could practice sharing our mathematical thinking.

a picture of our math journals

For the rest of the year, we will use math journal prompts 2 - 3 times each week. I use 3 different sets of math journal prompts. I have a fall math journal prompt set, a winter math journal prompt set and a spring math journal prompt set. You can read more about them in an old post here.  All 3 sets are available in my Tpt store and my Teachers Notebook shop. Now, that I've introduced math journals, my students are ready to use 2 prompts from my fall set this week.

Better finish preparing myself for the 5 a.m. weekday wake up.  Have a great week!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Good Listening and Good Teachers

It's 2:26 a.m. (I don't know why blogger always insists that I live in a different time zone.)  I should really be sleeping. With my to-do list scrolling in my head, it's hard to do that. So, I decided to get some things done do some blogging. 

 It's our 2nd week of school in Michigan. I'm exhausted, but excited about how the school year is starting off. Like my friend, Jennifer from Rowdy in First Grade, I'm trying to focus on the positive. Jennifer is hosting a Tell Me Something Good linky party. 

 Something Good From School: 
 I'm lovin' my class! We've been working on team building, starting the Daily 5 and listening. One of my favorite books about listening is Listen Buddy by Helen Lester.  My students always love this story about the importance of being a good listener.

Last week, we made an anchor chart about being a good listener after reading Listen Buddy.  We review the anchor chart each morning before our morning meeting.  

 Something Good From Home: 
We have AMAZING teachers!  Our own kids have fabulous teachers again this year!  Our children (4th grade and 1st grade) are so happy about the school year.    They jump out of bed excited, motivated and ready to go to school to learn each day.  I'm sure the "jumping out of bed" part will wear off in a few weeks, but I am super grateful for now. We know that having amazing teachers is a gift and we feel truly blessed (again this year)!

Back to bed?  Or back to work?  I should probably choose back to bed, so I can be productive at work tomorrow.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Special Place for Math Books

This year, I decided to make a special place for math related books in my room. It helps me find the math related books that I need to teach specific concepts/skills. I decided it also helps point out to kids that some of the books they love reading are about math.

 I found this little book stand in my outrageous collection of bins/containers/shelves and decided it was perfect for my space. The stand is small, so I only put out the math books related to the topics we are discussing in the next few weeks. I will leave a few of the books that are emergent or beginning readers out for students to look and reread throughout the year.

My Math Book Stand

My Math Work Station Area 
(plus storage for some manipulatives and my math journals)

Over the summer, I also made a few easy readers that are math related. Especially at the beginning year, it can be a challenge to find books that have text that is easy enough for my beginning readers. I do everything I can to build confidence in my readers. So, I'm hoping these easy readers related to math will help me hook a few more kids. You can see 3 of the books I made in the picture above of my math book shelf.  I laminate a colored copy to keep on my math book shelf.  I'll also photocopy individual copies for the students to take home to put in their "book boxes" at home for extra practice. You can click on one of the images below if you'd like to read more about them.

Bake Sale - (beginning number sense and counting)

It's Halloween - (beginning number sense, number words, counting)

Frog Hops - (beginning number sense, number line, addition)

Magic music box report (read old post here)...still magical!  I'm lovin' my new students!  

Off to dig into some football the lesson plans.  Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Magic Music Box

Oh thank goodness for my friend Kristin (A Teeny Tiny Teacher) and her music box idea! 

Today was the 2nd day of school for me, but it was the first full day. My class seems really nice. I mean super nice, like the kind you might consider looping with if you didn't love first grade as much as I do. But...the chit chatting was out of control yesterday. Not mean to each other, not rude, just non-stop talking. Maybe they talk a lot when they are nervous and excited? Maybe they don't know me well enough yet to know that I am the queen of non-stop talking!  I seriously could barely get a word in (so not like me).

Then I remembered a post from a few weeks ago that my friend Kristin did about her music box!  Brilliant!  You can read her post here at A Teeny Tiny Teacher.  

This morning, I broke out the music box in my room.  I told my students that it was a magic music box.  I wound it all the way at the beginning of the day.  I explained to my students that I noticed they must have been really excited yesterday, because there was a lot of chit chatting.  We talked about how important it was to be a good listener and that we will have more time to learn and do fun things if we are good listeners.  I told them that if I had to remind the class to listen and they didn't, I would open the music box and some of our magic music would get wasted away.  They were super excited when I told them that goal was to be able to listen to as much of the magic music as possible together at the end of the day.  Folks, I was shocked!  I only had to open the box two times during the entire day and only for about 3 seconds each time.  It's magic!  

I wish I could have captured the looks on their faces when we opened the box at the end of the day to listen to "The Rose" (the song my music box plays) over and over again.  They were so happy and so proud!  I told them I was super, super proud of them.  They asked me to stop talking so they could hear the magic music.  Seriously, it was the cutest darn thing ever.  The looks on their faces were precious. Kristin - I love ya!  You are a genius my friend!   

This is my magic music box.  
I am going to put a tiny picture of our class in the frame on the front.  

I'm hoping for more magic as we continue our discussion about being good listeners tomorrow!  

Or maybe I'll get a fog day like my mom's school had today. WHAT?!?!  A fog day.  We had fog so thick this morning that I could barely see the road.  Apparently, Michigan doesn't believe in fog days.  My mom is a teacher in Ohio and I guess they believe in dangerous fog there.   Mom - hope you enjoyed your day off.  You deserve a break!  Love you! that you read my blog. :)


Monday, September 3, 2012

Currently September

Could it be time for Farley's September Currently? Yep and Farley has been a walkin' and a walkin' and is lookin' good! (go visit her at Oh Boy, Fourth Grade for pictures and the September Currently)

My September Currently...

I'm off to the Tigers game today with my family. We'll be cheerin' for the Tigers while we enjoy our last official day of summer. 

 Tomorrow is the first day...Hooray!!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Time for a Classroom Photo Tour

Ready or not (some piles are still visible)...but it's time for a classroom photo tour! It's been so much fun to peek at all the other photos of "ready" classrooms. My students start on Tuesday. I'm as ready as I'll ever be...

I work in an early childhood building.  We have Young 5's - 2nd grade (plus preschool and the early on special education programs) in our beautiful school.  Our classrooms are not square and my room is one of the rooms that I affectionately refer to as a "righty room".   I pretty much begged my principal for a "righty room" after spending a year of total confusion in a lefty.  I have a beautiful view of our campus, which includes another early childhood building, our 3rd - 4th grade building, our middle school (7 - 8) building, a few regular baseball diamonds, a new baseball diamond made for special needs students, a community walking track and a fancy bus loop.  Oh...and a cemetery (seriously).  I love my school, my staff, my students and the little village where the community still loves teachers.

Welcome to my classroom!

The view from my door.

My desk is behind these shelves which are the home for some of my leveled readers. 
I confess... I might be a hoarder of leveled books.
My students do not have their own book boxes.
Each student is free to choose books from the bin that is labeled 
with books from their just right level.
I considered cleaning off the desk for you,
 but I figured you would understand.

My writing center area.
I will use this bulletin board for anchor charts and student work
 once we get started.

My math work station shelves and my special place for math related books.

My reading corner. 
My students use this all throughout the day, 
but especially for read to self/read to someone.

A few more spaces for partner work and/or reading.
(reading loft and the little round table)

This is a view from the back of my room.  I'm standing next to the "secret door".  
It's really a door that leads to my friend's 2nd grade classroom, 
but it's more fun to call it the "secret door".

My small group table (which I spray with windex about every 20 minutes).
I'm kind of like that guy in My Big Fat Greek Wedding...but I'm German.
Just noticed that the "g" on my word wall is dangling.  oops

We already had open house (always before school starts).   I welcomed 22 out of my 24 little first graders and their families to our classroom.  I think the other 2 were on vacation. I even tested out my parent wish jar (which went really well).  You can read the post of my parent wish jar here.  It seems like a really nice group of students and I can't wait to get this party started on Tuesday morning.  Let the fun begin!

I'm linking up my classroom photo tour with Swimming Into Second.
There are so many amazing classroom photos!