Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Surviving First Grade

Wow, surprisingly for my first year in 1st grade things are going so well! Timing was my biggest concern and it turned out that my pacing is just perfect. There have been a few other hang ups that I have adjusted to... LOTS of bathroom breaks and of course is easier as a class. I am also adjusting to the inability to sit still and/or sit correctly. We made this poster and I refer to it EVERY time we sit down. It is a great visual reminder and they came up with all the ideas around the little boy.

*This is not a photo of ours, as my camera went through the washing machine :( Click on the photo to go the blog that came up with the original idea.

Today, we started the first day of Daily 5. No one in our building has ever done Daily 5, so this is a brand new concept. Read to self... well let's say it was a stretch when I told them they lasted a minute ;) At first, they made it 40 sec. after reflecting we made it closer to one minute. But there were a still a few that had a hard time reading the "whole" time. So it's a slow start but we are starting and that's what counts. Maybe some more modeling tomorrow and continue talking about the 3rd way to read to self.

We also read Chrysanthemum today and the kids really enjoyed the graph we did as a class.

Tomorrow I plan on doing the activity which is a part of the Wonderful Names unit here. It's free and has a Alice in Wonderland theme.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Meet the Teacher Night

What a wonderful evening! I was so nervous to meet first grade parents, but turned out to not be so scary. Meeting all my little firsties made me SO excited for the first day of school. My room turned out great, and I felt like I got a lot done just in time. My favorite part was the balloons, a Pinterest inspiration. They were a hit, all the kiddos loved their balloon and none ended up on the tall pod ceilings :)

Now that we have made it passed that night I can focus on planning for the first week of school! 
Question for you all.... how do you organize supplies on the first day? 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Behavior Management Take 2!

School hasn't even started and I am already switching up what I planned on for a behavior system. I was not a fan of the color code system, but it was the only thing I could find that I liked. Color code seemed easy for me, parents and students. However... then I began seeing a million different versions, with different colors representing different behaviors. I also found it very difficult to find a kid friendly think sheet. This one I found is so weird... they are bald, cone heads! Too weird  for me. A while back I came across this token system. It seemed like a lot of work and I was worried about 1st graders being able to handle/understand this. So needless to say I was not excited about my behavior management plan, but hey, we were a few weeks away from school starting and I hadn't found anything better... until last week!

I was at a workshop with one of our 2nd grade teachers and during some downtime we began discussing what we did for behavior management. I was so excited when she began describing the token system. She obviously has adapted it a bit, but I loved it all over again! So I went through my math cabinet picked out certain color of "tokens" that I was going to use and labeled them with students numbers. Each student will have 10 tokens, with "their" number on it. I also bought a container similar to the one below at Wal-Mart for $4.97. This is to help organize the tokens by each student. Now my friend does not have hers labeled. She just hands them out to anyone... this would make handing them out much easier, but I am just worried about firsties losing, or stealing :( The numbers avoid both issues. 
Creative Options Shallow Utility Box
When students earn 10 tokens by doing the right thing then they can trade it in for a coupon. Coupons must be redeemed on the following Friday. I record this in their take home folder the day they earn their 10 tokens. 

Now my question to her was, okay this is fabulous, BUT what do you do when a kid is not doing what they are suppose to? I shared with her my dilemma with the think sheets. She shared her behavior sheets, they are done weekly and she has codes for each misbehavior. Anytime their behavior interrupts learning they mark the code next to the day. This is just a quick recording of their behavior. At the end of the week it goes home to parents. She said if she notices 3 or more of the same code they fill out a think sheet, which goes home that night. Here is an example of what will go in their folder. (It's a half sheet... save paper!)

Here is the pdf if you like the behavior log!

When the student earns all 5 tokens I note on their folder sheet the day they received their coupon and their choice. Here are the coupons I made for my class.

I am NOW excited about my behavior management... because for the most part it is entirely positive, however I do have a way of tracking the unwanted behaviors. 

I would love to hear what you do in your classrooms for behavior management!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Daily 5: Chapter 7

Finally finished up the Daily 5 book. This last chapter did clarify a few things with implementing the daily 5. I think the 7th chapter will be a great resource to go back to once the year is up an running. My plan is to start the 2nd day of school with talking about the 3 ways to read a book. Is that too early? I just know that I have to start our basal program the second week of school so I would like a little time to really focus on Daily 5, before adding all of that in.
The one thing I did realize from this chapter was that we all are doing the same part of Daily 5 together until about mid October. This makes a lot of sense because chaos can come easily when several activities are going on at once.  I just finished putting together my cards so students can choose their Daily 5 activities in the morning, allowing me time to get choices recorded. I got my inspiration from Mrs. Bainbridge's site, if you click on the image it will take you to her site. Hopefully I will have a picture of my own up soon.

I wish I had taken pictures of my room today, it is really starting to look complete! I think I have made my final trip to Target, Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby and Mardel! Of course, I will have to go to Wal-Mart for necessities and end up with school supplies but only 2 more weeks!! Today I got some 1st grade resources from my cooperating teacher, she is also teaching in the KC area and when she heard I was switching to first she offered some of her resources as she moved up to 5th. It was great to see her! The only thing I am still looking for is some chimes for a signal... I have a bell but that can be so abrupt.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cute new chairs/storage!

I am tagging onto a blog hop for newbies... yup that would be me!

Click the picture above if you would like to join! Janis had this great idea to share a bit of information about ourselves...

1. I teacher in Kansas
2. 1st Grade
3. I have taught 4th grade for 3 years, and now going into my fourth year of teaching.
4. I started blogging in May when I found out I was for sure moving to 1st (and yes this was my choice... I'm so excited!)
5. I have a gmail account and I read all my blogs through Google reader! This saves a lot of time, because it tells me who has news posts and everyone is in one spot.

Anyway, today I got some help from my hubby to create these crate seats! I think I am going to use them at my guided reading table. The only thing I need to add is the ribbon on the sides to help for easier lifting. 
Here's how to make one for your room!

Staple Gun
Material (or I used vinyl tablecloth so that it's easier to keep clean)
Ribbon if you want to make handles

First, you need to cut your plywood to fit just inside of the crate, so it sits on the inner rim that is made for holding file folders. Make sure it fits nicely, remember fabric will be going on the sides. Then lay your piece of plywood on the back side of the material. I measured four inches away from the perimeter, and probably didn't need quite that much.

Then staple one end and the two corners on that side. 

Now you can start stuffing, make sure you stuff all the way to the corners and work it around to avoid lumpiness.

Finally, flip it back over and staple all the edges to the plywood. If I have leftover material I am thinking about cutting a rectangle to completely cover the wood.

Place it in the Crate and take a load of your feet!

Only 5 more to go!! :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Daily 5: Chapter 6

Whew! Only 2 more chapters and right now I am feeling more confused about Daily 5 than excited. Thanks to Misty Dawn I did find page 119 to be very helpful in laying out all these "days." I wish there was someone in my building who had implemented Daily 5 in the past, but other than my blogger friends I am on my own!

So here it goes Chapter 6: Writing and Word Work

In this chapter they continually mention that by now the students are aware of Daily 5 and these routines become easier to teach, however looking at page 119 "The first five weeks of Daily 5." The writing portion is introduced right after Read to Self. I feel like the writing part might be a little more tricky. So is page 119 an Idea, but not necessarily a guide for how to start Daily 5. Ahhh, I am confused :(

Anyway, the writing portion is a great time for students to work on their creativity with writing. I love the time taken to discuss spelling words... I always make a point encourage students to use the words they want to and worry about spelling later. I like that they underline the word so they know we are not just going to ignore the word. 

Word work sounds like a fun, hands on time for the kids. I need wikki stix! My question is do you have resources like spelling list, sight word list available for kids to look at or maybe this could be something that is in their book box for the week? 

I am also thinking of making a kind of checklist for students as they have completed a part of the Daily 5... here are a couple of ideas I am contemplating for that.

Daily 5

I like this so I know what they are currently working on and it holds them accountable. However, this does not "record" what they have already done that day.

idea for students who struggle to remember classroom routines

Or I was thinking something like this on the side of their book boxes.
These are the book boxes I ordered, which are obviously going to need some sprucing up... I was being a penny pincher, but now I wish I would've just ordered the colorful ones :(

And then I think, hey why not both? HA... maybe if my order comes in soon and I can get busy right away I will be able to accomplish both of these ideas!

So my sister came up and helped with my classroom yesterday! She is only 14, but I put her to work! We got a lot accomplished. Here is a picture update.

My library is getting there, and I finally hung my calendar. :)

This is what I really needed her help with... hanging all the blue and black material... we also created the city outline down below the whiteboard. I was going to us it for my behavior system, but I still can't make up my mind!! It's cute either way. I am going to get a silver paint pen and outline/draw windows on the buildings! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dr. Jean Song Book Giveaway!

So yesterday evening I was just reading this wonderful post by Fabulous in First about Literacy! I am switching to first this year and was loving her morning routine, in fact I am thinking about just follow her schedule and then tweaking it to work for me as I go! My team does not work together so I am starting from scratch. During the post she mentioned Dr. Jean's song books. I have almost all of Dr. Jean's CDs but didn't realize she had song books too! What a great way for students to work on fluency!
Sing Along & Read Along with Dr. Jean Readers Variety Pack w/CD gr. PreK - 1
If you click on the picture above it will take you to Amazon where you can buy this set for $56. I added it to my wish list immediately because I was so excited. Then I wake up this morning to find that she is GIVING away this set! Oh my goodness was I excited... so here I am sharing about this wonderful giveaway even though I hope I am the one to win ;) Go to Fabulous in First and sign up for this awesome giveaway today!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Must Have Books

I just finished up my Chapter 5 post and came across this fun linky about Must Have Books. I will share a few and am excited to see what other books I may be missing out on. The host of this linky idea has some GREAT books, most of them I haven't read! 
Hosted by the teacher wife.

Here are my favorites:



Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book

OH and there is also a blog giveaway here:

Daily 5: Chapter 5

Read to Someone

So this part of the Daily 5 says you should spend 6 days introducing the concept of Read to Someone, my question is... do you complete the 6 days simultaneously with read to self or are these done at separate times?

So far I love the little story of EEKK and how to talk about voice level. I know there are tons of posters on Pinterest that have the cute EEKK poem. An example can be found here.

I am very much into my new superhero theme, but I like the clipart on this poster because of the kiddos being elbow-elbow and knee-knee AND the book is even in the middle! We'll see!

The Check for Understanding is key here. I think this is what I will plan on really, really practice and model for the kids. I like the idea of having a tangible check mark the student holds as a reminder to check for understanding. Hmm... add that to my project list! The ones below were handcrafted, but I also saw ones that were laminated paper.

Complete I Chart with student ideas of what Read to someone should look and sound like. 

Modeling then takes place, just as we did with Read with self. Start with undesirable model and then have the students correct their behavior. Allows for 3 minutes or first distraction for everyone to get a chance to practice. And again the most important part is to come back together and review the I Chart- REFLECT!

When I first saw the 3 ways to read to someone I was confused, but now that she breaks them down through modeling I've got it. I think this a great variety to choose from and allows different levels of students to read together. Check for Understanding- One Book, I read/You read, and Read two books.
Again do some modeling and practice, trying for 4 minutes this time. 

The biggest issue of partner reading would be CHOOSING the book... so that's why we prepare kids with strategies. Let's Make a Deal, choose "read 2 books," or the good ol' Rock, Paper, Scissors! Us 4th grade teachers always told the kids, "Rock it out!" The next day we talk about choosing spots (the previous days I practice teacher has designated spots) and now it's the kiddos turn to choose a spot. The 5th day we talk about choosing partners. The last day is all about coaching. I like the idea of coaching sheets, but what good it is going to be if the students aren't able to read it? I suppose if we practice them enough most of the kids will just know them?

Listen to Read

This section was very short, because most children enjoy this. It is also something that we do not have to work on stamina as much because it tends to be more engaging. I will say the book mentioned not needing headphones and teaching them appropriate volume of the CD player, but I have to say I have tried this in the past and kids get squirrly. It's much easier to manage with headphones! I found headphones for $5 through School Specialty and they are great quality! Never had an incident of Lice, I like the idea of each student having a pair in their book box!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Best Giveaway!

Check out this awesome giveaway! I cannot believe someone is going to win ALL of this great stuff!
Go to Faithful in First and enter yourself!

I would love to have a substantial start of materials going into my first year in the first grade world!
Good luck to all those who enter!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Behavior Model

Okay so I am in a school that follows the PBS... or more lately know as PBiS. I am not a big fan at all, in fact, I found an example from someone a while back that sums it up. It goes something like this...

A boy comes to school with a gun and the principal hands a bear slip (positive reward slip) to every student standing around him without a gun and says Thank you for keeping our school safe.

So anyway I really got motivated today with creating... I love when I get these creative winds!! I spent most of my day creating labels, notebook covers, etc. to match my superhero theme. I purchased the clipart from Jaime from her Digital Bake Shop on etsy! Love her clip art... simple but cute! I purchased "Super Boys" and "Super Girls," I also grabbed "Out of this world" and "Cute Bugs." Now this behavior idea does not have any clip art included but I think what I will do is have the kiddos pick their favorite superhero out of the clipart and I will put their number on the superhero. After attaching a magnet to the back of their superhero we can use that as they place holder for where they are at that day.

So here's the plan...
They would start at Ready! every morning. They can move up throughout the day for positive reinforcement. The only spot down they can move is to uh-oh! At this point they would fill out a think sheet, and sit away from the group. When they are ready they can go back to Ready! and join the group. The reason I chose to do a color system is so that I can easily communicate to parents daily behavior. I know in 1st grade parents always want to know. So each night I would mark in their take home folder what color they landed on! If they had any think sheets they would need to be signed and returned.

You can check out my color coded idea here, it's still superhero themed :) First time I am using dropbox to share something, so let me know if it doesn't work!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ho hum, a new blog design?

Well what do you think? I am going with a superhero theme this year and I have never designed my own blog, just used the templates. I am so jealous of all the cute blogs I see out there and decided to take a stab at it. My husband is a web designer and would probably laugh at me if I showed him what I had done. But I am proud of my creation even if I did waste over an hour working on it just to avoid working on portfolio entries for class. We'll call it a work in progress as I am not completely satisfied with the header... it's still kind of blah and I don't like the font, but I didn't want to spend too much time until I made sure how this whole designing a blog thing worked out. 

Well anyway I went into my classroom yesterday and felt good about what I accomplished in a little less than 4 hours! Organization is underway... I spent most of my time labeling, and sorting books!

This will soon be our meeting/reading area. Still working at the logistics and look at those sad, bare, black walls :(

This is the area I am most proud of clearing out. Almost everything that is laying out does not belong. Curriculum we no longer use, 4th grade books that need to come home, and questionable stuff that I need to discuss with our reading specialist! However all MY stuff officially has a home in a cabinet!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Daily 5: Chapter 4

Can I just first say... I am so pleased to be a part of this book study! We didn't have a lot of interest among teachers in my building but I am just loving this book and this way of teaching reading! This chapter has made me excited for the school year to start, it's all about the getting started!

Day 1: Teaching two ways to Read to Self.
These two ways will be what students are most familiar with, but reading the pictures is probably the focus. Kiddos "read the pictures" from the day they pick up their first book. My one year old daughter already "reads" as she flips through the pages. Teaching kids that this is an okay and important way to read will get them excited about the read to self time. But before letting them free we must model what it is like to read the pictures, then read the words, and then encouraging metacognition discuss our learning.

Introduce the 3rd way of reading: Retelling a Story.
Review the first two ways we learned first. Use the same book from the previous day to demonstrate retelling a story. All three of these will help extend their stamina in reading to self.

*What  I love so much about this book is the dialogue that it is included. Sometimes I am so amazed with student responses I think it must be made up :)

The day we launch the Daily 5,  we would make on I chart (or as I call it a T chart, but the I stands for Independence). Then we brainstorm ideas for what student's roles are during read to self and the teacher's roles.

Modeling Read to Self. So we allow one or two students to model read to self and we discuss while in action using our I chart to guide us. Then let that kiddo dying for attention to demonstrate the inappropriate way, but before he is finished he then has to show the right way.

Okay so we are ready to practice read to self. THREE MINUTES, or as the book states however long until the first student can't sit still any longer. The book mentions choosing student spots the first few time to model distance and possibilities of where to sit.

*A question comes to mind... Do I eventually allow them choose where they sit? or will this turn into a disaster as it often did with my 4th graders? I always let them choose a spot, but then they had to stick to that spot for at least the whole quarter because otherwise they fought over spots.

My favorite, but most challenging part with be sitting down and not managing or even making eye contact. When the three minutes are up we come back and discuss, then engage in another practice. After that practice we are able to review the entire lesson of reading to self. 

Some key points to remember:
*If kiddos are having hard time achieving more stamina we should up the amount of sessions of read to self we practice per day.
*If students ever get off track, MODEL. If you are sick on modeling then you are doing it just enough!
*We want them to be able to read 30-40 minutes by themselves... WOW, all I can say is WOW!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Seeing the light!

Well maybe not quite a light, but I am working my way through the tunnel. I finished ironing, hanging, stapling up black material on my back wall. Whew, that was a lot of work but totally worth covering that AWFUL, burnt orange color. I also starting rearranging furniture, but am having a hard time deciding exactly how I want to setup my classroom. My biggest issue right now is where to put my guided reading table(s). Right now, it is the 3 tables put together on the right of the picture. It's at the front of my classroom right now, but I am trying to decide if I should move it to the back of the room. Our meeting area is in that back corner and I feel like if I put the guided reading table on the back wall that will be too much teacher stuff at the back.

I also cannot decide about all those polka dots on the wall? They were left by the previous teacher and I don't know what to do with them. I may take some of them down just because I think it is a little too busy. Any thoughts?

Well after my 4 hours in my classroom I felt like I had accomplished a lot, however I still have a long ways to go.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ugh, my classroom!

So today I sent the kiddos to daycare just to get some things done around the house! I was so motivated I headed over to my classroom to do some work. And I left hating my classroom! So much work when you move rooms. I found myself laying on the floor gazing at facebook because I was avoiding tasks. Here is what my classroom looks like right now...

YUCK! I had other pictures but for some reason they didn't upload... you should see the other corner it's a mess! Anyway it's a work in progress, but I still have plenty of time left to get in there and get some things cleaned up and organized. 
For now I am headed to South Dakota, where hopefully it is cooler :)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

D5: Chapter 3

Daily 5: Chapter 3

I am so anxious to just finish this book in one sitting! However, this book study is good for me... it forces me to slow down and think about what I need to do!

  1. What "rings true for you" in this chapter?
The Gathering Place... this to me is so important. After reading Debbie Miller's Teaching with Intention I realize planning out your room is key. Typically, in my building the "gathering" place is right up front because that is where the projector shows, but there is often so many distractions there. The door for one is right there by the board and it is often a big, awkward space. I am creating my gathering place in the back corner, that way if a guest walks in the students will be less distracted. It also allows us to be more cozy and less spread out like we would be in the front. I am hoping the projector being across the room does not pose too much of a problem. I "think" with first graders we will be doing a lot of anchor charts, white board, and hands on with books (all of which will be available in my cozy corner). 

2. How are your students progressing with picking appropriate books?

This questions does not really apply as I am coming from fourth and where I did not  teach Daily 5. In fact, I will be honest I think I taught one or two lessons about choosing the right book at the beginning of the year and never touched on it again. Let's just say I have had a lot of shoppers in the past. 
This will be an area of focus for me this year and I think with Daily 5 it will be no problem. I have the shoe example and I also came across this example for choosing right books.

3. What (if anything) could help improve the processes from this chapter in your classroom?

Well since this will be my first year in a new grade level and the first year doing Daily 5, there really is no "improving." It will all be starting new for me! So instead I have some questions and maybe some of you will happen to click on ME and be able to answer these...

The chimes, is this a must? I feel like my list of things to buy grows every day! I understand it is a soft sound, but any other ideas? I may just buckle down and get it if you all think it's definitely worth it.

Anchor charts for Daily 5... there are so many cute pre-made posters that I love. However, isn't the point to create these posters with the kids? What do you suggest?


Okay so I just found this tool through The Techy Teacher and I love it! I've always had problems with inappropriate ads/ other videos showing up around the youtube video I am showing. And while yes, you usually make it full screen it's the before and after that kids catch sight of stuff. Comments is another issue. This tool takes it all away, resulting in watching your youtube video standing alone!

Now this does require a little bit of planning ahead. But all you do is go to Quietube.com and drag the button to the tab that has your youtube video open and BAM! It looks like this...

That is amazing in my opinion, so much that I jumped on my blog to share it with you! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rocking Chair complete!

Since I became a teacher I have wanted a rocking chair in my room. I love reading picture books aloud to kids, even 4th graders! I had looked on craigslist and at garage sales and saw rocking chairs here and there... just never committed. Well, now that I am headed to 1st grade I decided it was a must!
I got on craigslist and BAM! There was a perfectly good little rocking chair for $20.

After sitting in the garage a few weeks, it finally made it's way down to the basement yesterday. I began sanding and prepping for paint. I was still trying to imagine how I wanted it to look in the end. I put spray paint primer on because my sanding job was pretty sad. However, the primer made my whole house REEK of paint fumes....ooops! I am sure I killed a few hundred brain cells in each of my kids, but hopefully it didn't affect them as much as it did me. 

So then  headed outside, no more fumes in the house! I used trash bags, newspaper, and painters tape to block off the sections I was not painting black. It took 4 cans of spray paint and 2 layers for the parts I had sectioned off! 

Today I painted the red, which took 2 coats. I used acrylic paint for that part and planned to use white acrylic for the spindles. I really probably should have used A) softer brush and B) a 3rd coat, but at this point I was thinking "This is taking a lot longer than I had anticipated." Some of you may be asking where in the world are your children during this? SLEEPING! I have some good nappers... I also must do a good job wearing them out while they are awake! 1 1/2 hr nap in the morning and 2 hour nap in the afternoon followed by a 7:30 bedtime.

The rest of it was adding all the cutesy! The J for Jankord and then gotta have polka dots! For the J I printed it out on the computer and traced. The top part I just looked at the printed version and free handed it. The D stands out more than the other letters but again at this point, I decided I didn't care! I love, love my new rocking chair!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

D5: Chapter 2

Just got done putting together a presentation for a workshop I am leading at my school this afternoon. The workshop is supposed to focus on ways to integrate technology into ELA. My main site that I enjoy using is Edmodo. Here are the sites I am sharing with them... http://www.delicious.com/stacks/view/Sc4i5E

My dad came up to watch my kiddos today so I had time to prepare and present. And since I had a little extra time I squeezed in reading Chapter 2 of the Daily 5. Right now I am still feeling like this book is about some magical land, but am hoping I can soon start invisioning it for real in my own classroom.

1 .What goals do you have for your classroom as you work to implement the principles and foundations of the Daily 5 discussed in chapter 2? What support do you need to do this?

Creating independence will be my main focus... as a previous 4th grade teacher I could totally to relate to that last section. By 4th grade some students have still not become comfortable with independence. They are constantly raising their hand or bringing their work to us asking, "Is this okay? Am I doing this right? Do you like this?" With that constant worry on their mind there is no way they can focus! So my number 1 goal will be to NOT hover as my students build stamina.
My goal for building the foundation is really taking the time to explicitly teach the kiddos the expectations. I sometimes get lazy or bored with reviewing procedures and convince myself they have it. Or I may settle for "that's pretty good." So my goal is to stick with it, make sure we are really there! Support: I may need other teachers to come and observe during my daily 5 time and tell me from their perspective whether they thought the children were on task. Get some outside opinions. I could ask my old team members from 4th grade or even have my principal come in for awhile.

2. What stands out as the most significant aspects of this chapter? 

Trust is one that stands out to me. Not only do I have to trust my students that they are capable of this independence, but they have to trust me. I need to be able to build that confidence in them that they can do this, and part of that is providing the whys and practice. The comments shared about students during the Daily 5 blow my mind. I cannot imagine a student being so focused that they are willing to stand up for what they believe in. Tugging on a large man's jacket and telling him that his voice is distracting while she reads seems unimaginable. And while it seems unimaginable, I hope that someday my classroom is like this!

3. How do the foundational principles of the Daily 5 structure (trust, choice, community, sense of urgency, and stamina), align with your beliefs that support your teaching strategies and the decisions that you make about student learning?

The most obvious alignment between these core values and my beliefs is the sense of community. Making every student feel comfortable with one another. This past year I felt like I really nailed the sense of community. The first few weeks were rocky, in fact some days were downright awful, but through practice and discussion we made it a great year. Building community will be the easiest for me, I think ;) Building stamina I think will come natural after awhile. Allowing choice is something I know is fabulous for kiddos, but I always struggle with. I tend to have this sense that I know what is best for them, so I will have to learn to let this go. And while I say let this go I know that teaching each individual how to discover what is best for them is what I truly will be doing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

D5: Chapter One

As I mentioned before I am switching from 4th to 1st grade. I am coming from a team that did EVERYTHING together and we were all willing to be flexible (even if we didn't get our way). Now I am headed to a team that is all over the place. Very few things are done the same, and that leaves me making a HUGE jump in grade levels and no where to start! So I jumped on a bunch of first grade blogs and have fell in love. The Daily 5 is something as a district and building we have discussed implementing, however we just adopted Storytown and for many teachers in my building starting something new sounds exhausting!
I was so excited that there was a book study because I was having a really hard time getting away from the Hunger Games :) Just finished the first book (I know I am so behind, most people are probably done with the series). 

1. On pages 4-6, the authors present two different pictures of their classrooms. In thinking about and reflecting on your own practice, how would you characterize your literacy block? Does it look more like the first or second scenario, or is it somewhere in between? How will you change it?

In my 4th grade room I would say this last year I began to fall more in the middle. My first 2 years I just jumped on the bandwagon of my colleagues, but it was A LOT of work. All the grading! I am actually guilty of hiding some of the papers at the bottom of the recycle bin because I knew it did not accurately show me what they were capable of. The busy work was adding up and the kids did not enjoy it. So this last year I began allowing more independent read time and reading with partners. It saved a lot of trees and my time!
On the other hand I hadn't established what reading independently or with partners truly looked like so I often found students off task still. I made the rule you can't interrupt my groups unless your dying and so very rarely did I get interrupted, but it was if that meant I didn't exist. Often they would just carry on a conversation with a friend because they knew I didn't want to interrupt my group of readers.

2. The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are having students do now in your classroom creating quality readers and writers? 

Right now my students still have a lot of busy work. As I mentioned earlier I began working towards having more reading time, but often if I needed to meet with students it was back to the practice books or spelling books. Most of the time I didn't even have time to grade it all! With writing I have always made a point to conference with my students. I don't get to do it as often as I would like but I always felt that was key to helping them be successful writers. Once I figured out who were some of my strong writers/helpers I started teaming them up with struggling writers. Sometimes this worked and sometimes it was a flop, but it is also important that writers learn to critique others.

3. What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?

The Daily 5 has structure to their independent activities, it doesn't assume students already know how to behave. It requires more community building in the beginning, something I have made longer and longer each year I have taught. I have found the more time spent community building the better the year goes. The Daily 5 also allows for a LOT more reading time!

Is it really the middle of JUNE?

Okay, so definitely paint is off the list! It's the middle of June and I have not step foot in my classroom. I had read about this idea of mapping out the summer by week and deciding what I wanted to have done in my classroom and at home. I must need to print it out and glue it to my forehead because so far the list has been out of sight and therefore out of mind. Maybe once I get home I can settle down and get started on that list.

So now I am back to debating what theme I want to use for my classroom. I have always wanted a Dr.Seuss theme room, but to do it right I think it is going to take a LOT of work. My second favorite theme is the superhero theme. There are SO many resources out there right now for superheros so I think that is what I have decided. SOME DAY I will have a Dr. Seuss theme, when I have more time, HA!

I have been wanting to read Daily 5, and tried to get a colleague on board. Neither of us followed through so the book is still sitting in my "teacher" bag untouched. BUT I was so excited to see that a group of blogging gals that I recently started following are doing a Daily 5 book study! Fabulous! So here I am linking up to this blog hop!

Friday, May 25, 2012

To Paint or Not to Paint?

I know it is probably a waste of time and money (in supplies) but I would LOVE to paint a mural on the wall of my new classroom. I am not sure if I can find the time, but it's an outlet for me. It's a chance to take a break and challenge myself. I loved painting the kiddos nursery and would love to do it "un" pregnant :) My thoughts are Dr. Seuss theme. I found a few pictures and characters I would love to include! I would also like to include the quote, "The more that you read, the more you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." and I also like "A person's a person no matter how small." That one goes especially with being in first grade!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wrapping up 4th Grade

One day left of 4th grade. I have to say it's a bitter sweet good-bye. There have been many times in the past few weeks that I've thought to myself... "I won't be able to do or say this next year." Fourth graders are quite a bit more independent and I have a feeling that will be my biggest adjustment. However, I will not miss the attitudes, the boyfriend/girlfriend drama, and the stinky-ness after recess in the springtime :)
I have a friend from my fourth grade team that is moving also, going to 6th grade. She is facing a social studies assessment on top of reading and math, HA! We both wanted a change and we both got change that is for sure!
These last few days I have been packing up all my stuff, it has been nice to trash stuff that has been sitting in my closets for 3 years! It's a good feeling to throw away, although this can be a struggle for me ;)
Monday will be my last day in fourth grade and then Tuesday morning, bright and early I head in to switch rooms with my colleague!

Monday, May 14, 2012

A journal for my thoughts

I originally created this blog for my 4th grade students. We were going to use it for communicating with one another. In all I used the blog twice in 3 years so I decided to make use of it in another way. I debated whether to start a new one entirely with a "cutesy" name, but Jankordians is where my career started. I started with a rowdy bunch of 4th graders and I will NEVER forget that class. I got hired 6 days before school started and had modge-podge of students. They named themselves the Jankordians, while none of my other classes have really adopted the name it's hard for me to let go. 
So now, after 3 years of teaching 4th grade I am heading back to the primary realm. I have to say "heading back" is kind of an over statement. I was really never there. I did my student teaching in 2nd grade and absolutely loved it! I took a long term sub job in 1st grade and then landed in 4th. At first I was hesitant, as my 4th grade team is aWESOME! We work so well together and are always on the same page. We are flexible and fun. The 1st grade team is the POLAR opposite! It will be difficult to work on a team that is all over the place, but I am so excited for 1st grade. I have been obsessing over many great blogs and reading like crazy. My biggest fear is teaching reading. I am going from a huge focus on comprehension/state assessments to just teaching HOW to read. I have really enjoyed reading Debbie Miller's "Reading with Meaning" and "Teaching with Intention."