Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What I'm Loving - Games

I love teaching and reviewing through games.  Not only do they reinforce team work, but games allow students to gain confidence and establish strategies.  From day one, games are used in my classroom for whole group, small group, and individual practice.
Check out the games I love:
Extra Point is a great beginning of the year review for students.  It allows students to practice counting on and plus one. 
BUMP is the greatest math game!  It teaches good sportsmanship and math facts.
You can find BUMP and Extra Point in my TPT store.  They are wonderful for the beginning of the year and fall games, even though I play them all year with my kiddos.
So, I love math games, but literacy games are just as important in my classroom.  The greatest game EVER....I Have...Who Has...?  Seriously, it is the most adaptable game.  I use it for sight words, book reviews, and most importantly, learning names.
At the beginning of the year, my students and I practice each other's names through I Have...Who Has...?  Once we have mastered each other we move onto staff members.  Even though I teach first grade, I expect my students to be able to greet staff members throughout the building.  I also use this as a means of safety.  If my students do not recognize a staff member they can always ask me who the person is, allowing me to determine if they are a sub, visitor, or need to report to the office.  

What games do you love using with your students?  Check out the links below for other fabulous ideas!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Show Us Your: Read Alouds

I love to read to my students!  The look on their faces when they discover something new or make connections while listening makes my heart flutter.

Check out some of my favorite beginning of the year read alouds, and be sure to check out the other blogs that linked up with their favorites.

I use this book to introduce Writers' Workshop!  I love the discussions that it leads to.

Such a wonderful first day of first grade read aloud!

This book magically appeared in a bin of books from my sister, and boy am I grateful for it.  It is an adorable story of a boy's imagination and his "summer vacation."

Oh, Junie B.  This is the first chapter book that I read to my students last year, and I am thinking about reading it again this year.  There are moments when Junie makes me cringe, but the students love her and truly relate to her.
This book holds a dear place in my heart!  It was the book that my mentor teacher read on my first day of my student-teaching, and it is the same book that I read on the first day in my very first classroom.  I continued to read this book each year, as a fifth grade teacher.  My students' responses always amazed me.  I believe that this story opened doors of trust with my students that I am forever grateful for.  It isn't really appropriate for 1st grade, though.
What books do you read aloud to kick off your year?  Do you have any books that hold a special place in your heart?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Show Us Your: Lesson Planner

With August only a few days away, the thought of Back-to-School is inevitable.  I will be participating in The Teacher's Chair's School Week Linky.  Throughout the week, you will get a glimpse of my Back-to-School mindset.

I have started looking back over last year's plans and have begun organizing topics for this coming year.  I have learned that each year I am a better planner and more comfortable with my lesson plan tools.  YAY!  It sure doesn't feel that way sometimes!

Check out everything that goes into my plans:
I always start by figuring out what my week is going to look like.  I loving planning ahead, but things ALWAYS come up.  I decided to splurge on my planner this year, with an Erin Condren.  I didn't get a lesson planner, but a life planner, keep reading to see why.  I adore how it is laid out by month and week.
Isn't it fancy?!
Once I have a good idea of my week, I review my monthly overview to make sure that I am covering necessary ELA strategies and topics.  I created this template for each month.  It is available in my TPT store, in editable and PDF forms.  It has helped me wrap my mind around everything I do and want to teach each year.

Next stop, reviewing my CCSS checklist.  I found this checklist last year, in my search for understanding first grade.  It is created by the amazing Rachelle Smith.  

This checklist has allowed me to become more familiar with the CCSS, while making my planning more meaningful.
So now that I know how much time I have, and what needs to be covered, I start to throw everything into my weekly lesson plan template.  I discovered this template through Erica Bohrer and absolutely love it!  It was originally created for Erica by Ms. M, from A Teacher's Plan.  If you struggle to create the perfect lesson plan template, I highly recommend that you check out her blog.

Even though I create the majority of my plans digitally, I alway print them so that I can add notes and make changes along the way.  It is amazing writing this post and realizing how much goes into my plans each week.  What lesson plan tools do you use?

Be sure to follow along this week!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

10 Things I've Learned From Teaching

I am linking up today with Miss Kindergarten, for 10 Things I've Learned From Teaching.  I have to say narrowing down what I have learned to 10 items was very difficult, I have a feeling I will be posting about this topic again.

1. Make time for your self!  I struggle with this one every year, but it is the most important.
2. Always keep an open-mind.  We all have expectations for our students and families, but we can only control what happens in our classrooms. 
3. Remember to remain professional.  It can be very easy to participate in the gossip circus, but staying out of it makes you a stronger individual.
4. Find a buddy.  Having someone to bounce ideas off of, plan with, or eat lunch with is important.  Adults need adult conversation, right? (Keep in mind number 3)
5. Laugh!  Remember to enjoy the silly moments.  The silly memories help when times become stressful.
6.  Flexibility is your friend.  Your day could change at any moment, let go of the control and go with the flow.  You can still stick to your plans, just in a modified means.
7. It is okay to say, "No."  I am still learning how to do this, but it is imperative to know when you have taken on too much.  
8. Participate in at least one physical activity.  Teaching is mentally draining, having a release is a necessity.  I highly recommend yoga, as it addresses metal and physical release.
9. Kids eat pencils!  Seriously, this is no joke!  Each time you replenish the pencils they magically end up demolished or no where to be found.  Invest in pencil stock!
10. Save the drawings and notes, from students, in a big envelope, and save them for a BLAH! day.  You never know when you might need a little cheering up.  I turn mine into a class book at the end of each school year.

What is the number 1 thing you have learned as a teacher?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It - Organizing Sight Word Sticks and Center Materials

I love Monday Made It link ups.  Thank you Tara for hosting!
One of my goals, last year, was to start making more time for myself.  As a way to set aside some time, I subscribed to ISPY.  If you haven't heard of IPSY, it is a monthly beauty bag filled with samples and full sized items each month.  It is a fun surprise that I have really come to enjoy.  The beauty bag comes in these amazing pink bubble envelopes each month, which I don't feel right throwing away.  They have begun to pile up, so I knew I needed to do something with them.

The first thing that needed to happen was removing the sticky seal.  I was able to pull off the vast majority of it.  What was left I covered with velcro.  I love velcro!

After transforming them into pouches, I knew that they would be perfect for varying center materials.  I picked up 1/2 page sticker shipping labels and got to work.

My students use sight word sticks (click here for this set of stickers-they print on Avery 8167) for a ton of their centers.  These pouches help keep each set organized.  I color-coded the sets in order to make more than one.  Having 33 students requires quite a few sets of materials.

Quickly running a marker along the edge is a great way to separate sets.
This Monday Made It will allow using Reagan's Sight Word Stick Centers so much easier.  If you haven't checked out this pack, I highly recommend it.

 How do you keep your centers organized?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Flash Freebie with Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes

I am so excited to be a part of Frogs and Cupcakes' 1,000 Facebook Fan Giveaway.  Make sure to head over to Janaya's Facebook page to find today's map.  Today, you will find my Peanut Butter and Jelly Compound Words Centers for FREE!!  

The freebie is only going on from 10-1 CST so head over there quick.  You can also click on the picture below for quick access to my TPT store. 
Thanks again Janaya!  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Organization is the Key to a Successful Year

I just finished my latest TPT item and I can't wait to use it.  I firmly believe that if I take the time to get organized everything will be easier.  For that reason, I created a Year Long Planning Guide and an ELA Planning Guide.  Each of the files are editable to make everyone's life a bit easier.  You can grab them from my TPT store.

I am not one to use a scripted curriculum, but I appreciate the guidance that it can provide.  I believe that the ELA template I created will do a fabulous job functioning as my "guidance."  It felt so great to print each guide out and throw some ideas onto them.

The ELA Planner is meant to be printed on 11"x17" paper, which I don't have in my house at the moment.  Two pieces of paper and some tape seemed to do the trick.

How do you keep your year-long planning organized?