Friday, June 28, 2013

First Five for Friday

I am so excited to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching, for today's Five for Friday.  This will be Kacey's last Five for Friday until August, but don't fret, Friday blog posts, in July, will still feature greats from the week.

This week has been filled with organizing, relaxing, and packing.  

1. Washi tape!  Where has this stuff been all my life?!  I am in love with how easily is transforms Blah! into BOOM!

2. Pathways to the Common Core.  Over the last couple years, I have been preparing myself for the transition to CCSS.  As an ESL teacher, I worked on breaking down the standards to determine what language forms and functions my students would be required to use.  Now, as a classroom teacher, I have jumped head first into the CCSS.  This books has severed as a fabulous resource throughout all of my work up-to and with the CCSS.  I highly recommend it!

3. Creating for TPT.  I love being able to let my creative juices flow, while sharing the final products will all of you.  This week, I added a set of I have...Who has...? and a super cute word family activity.
4. My Monster.  I love being home during the summer to walk and play with this terrific fur ball.  

5. Erin Condren Life Planner.  I did it, I splurged and got my first Erin Condren Life Planner.  I chose to go with the Life Planner because I use a digital format for my lesson plans.  I love that I was able to personalize this planner, it inspires me each time I look at it.  I am eagerly waiting to start writing in it!

I am off to HOTlanta for the National Education Association's Representative Assembly (NEA-RA).  This annual event is an incredible experience where members from all over the nation come together to monitor and support our rights as pubic educators.  

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What I'm Loving...

Forgive me for not posting this yesterday.

I am linking up with Covered in Glitter and Glue for today's post, What I'm Loving Wednesday (or Thursday).

Summer is definitely a time when I work on reorganizing and pre-organizing.  Here are two of my current organizing loves:

Editable Chevron Binder Labels:
You can find these in my TPT store (click the image).  I love the colors and the fact that they are editable!

Sterilite Tubs: 
These bad lads are going to house all of my monthly center materials.  I love creating centers, but it is hard to keep them all organized.  Ashley, over at That's So Second Grade, did an amazing job creating the labels that I will be using for these tubs.  Thanks, Ashley!
I found these great tubs at Target, on sale!

I love the chevron and chalkboard graphics!

Happy Organizing!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Made It and a New Center Activity

I am so grateful to be teaching summer school.  I know that I should be resting and regaining my life balance, but this girl can't sit still.  Our summer school is being funded through an incredible grant that my colleague wrote.  You should check out her blog documenting her daughter's language acquisition, it is super interesting.
The focus of our summer program is to "Jump Start" literacy skills for our kindergartners going into first grade.  Due to the fact that our class sizes hit a record high this year, too many of our students' individual needs are not being met.  We wanted to create a way to support our youngest students to hopefully enhance the beginning of their educational careers.
My group of kiddos have mastered their letter names and sounds.  Therefore, I will be focusing on sight words and basic sentences.  This is where my Monday Made It comes in...Sandwich Sentences!  I found these incredible coasters at Dollar Tree a few weeks back, and knew I had to pick them up; I just wasn't sure how I was going to use them at first.
I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out sentence options.  

This is the scaffolded set, which provides my struggling students with sentence options.
I created 2 versions of Sandwich Sentences: the first is very scaffolded for my struggling writers; while the second allows them to pick and choose components to create their complete "sandwich." I cannot wait to get out the white boards and allow my students to practice their sentence writing skills.  If all goes well with this activity, I will create a TPT product with cards and recording sheets to share with everyone.  Make sure to check back for updates!
I wrote the different parts of speech, on the back of each sandwich piece,
that students will have to use in order to make a complete "sandwich."
I am linking up for the FIRST time, with 4th Grade Frolics, and so excited about it!
I am in love with the final product and can't wait to use this activity with my summer school kiddos!
Also, this activity has allowed me to reuse a couple of my IPSY envelopes I just can't part with. 

Happy Creating!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Yoga In and Out of the Classroom

Like all of you, I love my job!  I love it so much I let it take over my life sometimes.  Although, I have been teaching for 8 years, I seemed to have entered the career at a difficult time, like many professions. This has caused each spring, of not knowing if I have a position the next year,  to be ridiculously stressful.  Two years ago, I hit an elevated stress level my body couldn't handle.  I tried adding extra walks with the dog, more sleep, and a closer look at my diet, but wasn't feeling better.  I knew I needed to do something to relieve my stress.
I had been seeing more and more articles about yoga, so a-reading-I-went.  I started reading Yoga Journal and other publications to better myself with the benefits and terminology.  I even began playing around with poses on my Wii Fit.  It wasn't until I built up enough courage and entered a local studio that I started to feel better.

We are fortunate in this day and age to have yoga studios all over the place, but finding a studio that makes you happy can be tricky.  I chose a small studio that had a family like feel and offered a variety of classes.  I was quickly hooked and feeling better than ever.

Yoga has taught me that making time for "me" is essential, but more importantly that everyday is practice.  It is practice that makes us stronger and ready for tomorrow; something that I teach my students.
Since yoga has opened the door to a more balanced life, for me, I knew that incorporating it into my classroom was essential.  I started by introducing breathing techniques to help my students that struggle with self-control.  By counting their breaths in and out my students learned that stopping and focusing on their breath made the frustration disapate.  This took crazy amounts of practice, but it was well work the time.  The quality of self control my 1st graders gained was incredible.
The ABCs of Yoga for Kids is a fun book that shows a great variety of poses.
I have also been an active user of Brain Breaks (more to come).  What better time to incorporate yoga than Brain Breaks?  One Brain Break and position that my students have come to love is eagle.  I began by teaching my students eagle arms which allows both brain hemispheres to be stimulated simultaneously.  This pose builds coordination, balance, concentration, and stamina, all traits I want my students to possess.

During Brain Breaks, I also have my students practice stretching.  I have found this absolutely vital to do before sitting down for Read-to-Self and Writers' Workshop.  The stretching allows students to let go of their tension before committing their concentration to one discipline.

I am so grateful for what yoga has done for my student and I.  I would love to hear from those of you that have found yoga to be beneficial in and out of your classroom, or if you have any questions for me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Where would we be without volunteers?

I don't know about you, but without my classroom volunteers I would be lost!  At the beginning of the year, I had a handful of parents interested in volunteering in the classroom.  I knew I would need their assistance, so I created this form to indicate where I needed help and to keep everyone organized.


Throughout the year, I learned several things about having volunteers in the classroom:
  • always have more for your volunteer to do than time allows
  • do not ask your volunteers to grade student assessments
  • if you want something prepared a specific way consider prepping if yourself
  • parents that can volunteer from home are just as helpful as those in the classroom
  • volunteers during Centers or Daily 5 are irreplaceable
  • always show your appreciation
In order to show my volunteers how much I appreciated them, I gifted each one with these adorable herb plants.  Ashley over at That's So Second Grade, give me the idea with the brilliant term "sup-HERB."  I picked up the pots from HomeDepot and the herb plants at Trader Joe's.  I also purchased patio paint (it doesn't fade) from Michaels and a paint pen for the writing.  I was amazed at how quick the project came together, and thrilled with how they turned out. Plus, my volunteers loved them.  I would enjoy hearing what you have done to say "Thank You" to your volunteers.

Monday, June 17, 2013

How Pinterest Has Made Me a Better Teacher

Like many of you, this past year, I experienced a teaching shake-up.  I was laid-off and recalled to a position I had not taught before.  Although I have several years of classroom experience, it was all at the intermediate level, making the thought of teaching 1st grade daunting.  With only a few days before the start of the school year, I knew I needed to learn how to organize a primary classroom FAST!

My sister introduced me to Pinterest the previous spring, as a visual learner this site became my haven for DIYs and decor ideas.  The most powerful pins I have found are definitely those aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  With 45 states having adopted the CCSS, I am intrigued by the ability to share ideas nationally.  Having taught in 3 states,  I love that I can now share ideas that former colleagues can use.

It wasn't until I started playing around with the search feature that I came across a multitude of classroom resources.  The search feature allowed me to explore first grade ideas, without getting overwhelmed with everything else.  I loved the ability to glimpse inside other teachers' classrooms, while building a bank of ideas.  I can't wait to take the spastic pinning I did this year, to survive my first year in 1st grade, and "Rock the Socks" off of this coming year's classroom and teaching!

Throughout my use of Pinterest I have learned the following:

  • make sure the pin is active BEFORE pinning it to your boards
  • double check that you have "Permission to Pin" ideas that you find on blogs and websites
  • organize your boards to make reviewing ideas simple

  • monitor your time (Do you get sucked in like me?)
Happy Pinning!

Searching for Balance

Over the course of the last 8 years, I have jumped head first into the greatest career I could ever imagine.  Teaching has provided me with a happiness to fill my heart for eternity, as many of you know.  However, it have also sucked a boatload of energy from me.  As I bound into the blogging world, I am excited to share ideas and creations which have allowed me to swim upon the surface with a smile on my face.