Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bust the Burglar

I love it when a random idea turns out to be one of the best things I could do for my students.  I have been trying to figure out an interactive way to engage all of my kiddos and I seem to have finally stumbled upon my burglars.  To be more precise BUST those BURGLARS!

This new series, Bust the Burglar, allows students to work together to find the 6 burglars hiding out in their learning.

Students must read, solve, and identify while on the hunt for the burglars.
I love the whole group practice, but I really appreciate that this can become a center that everyone wants to play over and over.

The kiddos enjoy using the rekenrek to solve some of their math facts.

What do you think?  What concepts do you want covered in this series?  

Swing on over to my Facebook page for a chance to win this bundle.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Whole Lot of Mojo

I can't believe that we are already more than a month into the school year!  My new firsties are grooving through their routines and making this teacher very proud.  I have to say it is really great to be able to look back and see how much they have already grown.
September's Data

You are probably thinking, who is this crazy lady with a bunch of data this early in the school year?!?  My data is ClassDojo!   If are are not familiar with ClassDojo, you can check out my other posts here.
ClassDojo has not only allowed me to track positive and negative behaviors, but it has allowed me to communicate with parents.  ClassDojo has a messenger feature which allows for quick and effective communication with parents.  I love that I can not only send out messages to the whole class, but to individual parents.  With this feature, I have been able to share real time behavior information, pictures of kiddos working to document an awesome day, and so much more.  Recently, ClassDojo messenger allowed me to schedule all of my fall conferences.
Fall conferences are one of the most important meetings I will have with families each year.  Unfortunately, scheduling them is a pain in the booty!  With the ease of ClassDojo messenger, I was able to contact families quickly and find out if specific times worked verses having to send notes and reminders via "The Blackhole" AKA a student's backpack.
The messenger even lets me see who has viewed the message and when!  Too cool!!!

So, a quick story: The other day, one of my colleagues was frantically hustling back to their classroom after dropping their students off in their after school locations.  I asked what was going on, and they responded that they forgot to send home a student's behavior plan and needed to quickly locate it and get it to the family.  I understand that new ideas, gizmos, and concepts frighten and overwhelm some people, but sometimes embracing something new, like ClassDojo, can make your life easier.  If that colleague used ClassDojo to track just that one student's behavior and the messenger function to talk with parents, they wouldn't have been running frantically back to their classroom.  Just a thought!

Do you Dojo?  What do you love about it?  What struggles do you find with it?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Staying Active with GoNoodle

We all know that we live in a world of less active children.  This shift from playing outside to playing video games inside has not only messed with the health of our nation, but it has drastically taken a toll on the education of American Youth.  I am linking up with GoNoodle to share how I have been trying to fix this never-ending battle.

Getting students up and moving is not new information.  Teachers have always known that students perform better when they are DOING the learning.  As educations we have taken class upon class on how to engage our students and have them be active participants, but where were the classes on activity and brain development?  Thinking back, I had one class during my Master's Program on "How the Special Needs Brain Works," and I attended a BrainGym workshop, but that was it.  It wasn't until my friend Britney, from Tailor Made Teaching, mentioned GoNoodle that I discovered the tool that would change my classroom forever.  Not just my classroom, but my students' well beings.
GoNoodle is the active tool that students need to give their brain a break and to get their blood flowing. It is the device that makes transitions smooth, while never wasting a minute.  It allows students to stretch their minds and their muscles.

But, it also allows students to move and experience the joy that movement brings to our bodies and minds.

The icing on the cake is that your students can use GoNoodle at home, too.  It is music to my ears when students walk in the classroom and say, "I GoNoodled at home yesterday!"  Not only are they excited, but I am thrilled to know that this healthy choice has been an impact on them as well.

How do you promote activity in your classroom?  Do you use GoNoodle?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Recipe And A Read Aloud

The new school year is underway and I am already anticipating Fall.  I need to slow down!  I LOVE fall, but in Oregon that means rain and more rain.  I know we need it right now, but I appreciate the fact that my raincoat isn't on me at all times.  However, Fall does mean pumpkins, gourds, spices, and warm colors.
In anticipate of the season change, I decided to whip up some of my favorite pumpkin muffins, but with a twist, they are now gluten free.  Some of you may have noticed a change in my recipes (especially those I pinned on Pinterest).  Back in March I went through some medical chaos and was told that one way to help my body was to go GF.  This Italian thought the doc was crazy!  I have NEVER had a reaction to gluten, but I learned that doesn't matter.  I decided to follow the doctor's recommendation and have been 100% GF since March.  Let me tell you, as someone that had never had an issue with gluten in the past, I feel 900x better without it in my system.  Weird?!?!  So...these muffins are now GF.

The Recipe - 2 (3) Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins
You will need...

Next, just mix the two until smooth.

Then, just pour into a greased muffin pan. 
I like to add a dash of Pumpkin Pie Spice on top before baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
These are GF, dairy free, egg free, but full of happiness!

The Read Aloud - The Adventure of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend

I picked up this book last spring, but I have held on to it because I feel that it is the perfect back to school, friendship book.  Beekle is an adorable imaginary friend who seeks the child that needs him in life.  His adventures lead him this way and that, but ultimately in a loving home.
The illustrations are absolutely breathtaking!  I highly recommend this book for your classroom library!

What is your favorite fall treat and read aloud right now?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

You Oughta Know

The act of being a mentor teacher is a true honor.  I know that when I was first asked to have a student teacher I was ecstatic that I had reached that point in my career.  However, it was not all unicorns and rainbows.  There is a ton I wish I would have known before agreeing to my first student teacher, many moons ago.  I am so excited to share my mentor teacher essentials in this month's You Oughta Know!
I don't know about you, but I had the greatest mentor teacher!  She knew how to balance her real life and school, while being a fabulous teacher.  Ten years later, I still strive to be like her.  The most important thing that she taught me about mentors and student teachers is they need to communicate.  We had a great forum between us and I figured that would be easy to recreate with a student teacher (ST) of my own.  WOW, who was I kidding?!?!  I struggled ridiculously with my first two student teachers and I feel horrible about that.  Thankfully, I have learned and have made the following changes.
The easiest way to keep communication lines open is to set up a notebook system and REALLY reflect with your ST.  It is imperative that you set up a time to discuss what gets written, or there was no use in spending the time prepping it. 
I allow my STs to observe and take notes the first few days and record their observations, thoughts, and questions in the notebook.  Then, throughout their time with me I post questions, interview questions to be exact, for them to respond to, and for us to discuss.  The questions are from my own interview experiences throughout my career, teaching in 3 states gives you some ideas. ;)

I also use the journal to observe and reflect on lessons that my STs teach.  I love being able to give them additional thoughts to ponder.

Having everything is one place has proven to be the best idea!  My last three STs have rocked this process!  Each of them was able to use their notebook as a great study tool before their interviews.

There is a second piece that I wish I would have known about with my first STs...Rachelle Smith's Student Teacher Resource Binder.
This product is full of amazing organizational tools to help you and your ST stay on track.  I love how easy it is to set up and differentiate depending on the needs of each ST.  We all know that EVERY ONE of them is different!!!
I hope you find these two tools helpful; I know that they have changed my role as a mentor for the better.  
What tips do you have for working with student teachers?

Be sure to hop over and check out these amazing bloggers!

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Wish I Would Have Known

I seriously wish that someone would have taught me the following two tricks 10 years ago...

1. Helping Hands

Forget the hassle of job charts; just the idea of their upkeep gives me anxiety.  Helping Hands is a quick and efficient way to have helpers in your classroom.  All you have to do is flip to the next two students each day.  This way students get to help more often through a variety of jobs.  My kiddos help with passing out papers and supplies, being line leader, pulling the lunch wagon, vacuuming the classroom, and taking out the recycling bin.  If only I would have known 10 years ago that managing classroom jobs could be streamlined and effective.

2. Clip Chart Add Ons
I have always used some sort of moving behavior chart, but a clip chart has been my go-to the last few years.  I love that as student behaviors move up and down so can their clips.  Three years ago, when I went back into the classroom, I made sure to send an email or Golden Note home, or make a positive phone call for students that made it to Outstanding.  I upped the ante this year with the "Clip Chart Hall of Fame."  When students make it to Outstanding they not only get a positive communication sent home, but they get to add a gem to their clip.  Once they have earned 5 gems their clip retires to the "Clip Chart Hall of Fame" and they receive a new clip.  This little change to our chart has created more excitement than I knew was possible.  Okay, maybe I knew that sparkly gems would bring excitement; just not when related to behavior.  Be sure to check back for updates on this new addition.

What do you wish you would have known when you first started teaching?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Back To School 2014

We are officially back to school!  It was an awesome first week with my new firsties.  They are too cute and so excited for a new year of learning.
We jumped right into discussions of using kind words, how to make new friends, and appropriate school behavior.  It is thanks to the books Chrysanthemum, Ribbit!, and Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal that these concepts were practiced and taught.  We even reread Chrysanthemum by using our QR codes and listening to the story.  As we "re-listened" students took turns crumbling and smoothing out Chrysanthemum's heart to show that even if we apologize hurtful words make a mark on our heart.
You can check out my in depth post from last year for more details.

We then made a promise to not use hurtful words and signed our promise with bandaids.

Yes, our week was full of rules, routines, and community building, but I made sure to allow time for introducing GoNoodle.  It has been a hit since their first bout of Wiggle It!  
I am so grateful for the excitement and encouragement that GoNoodle brings to my students.  Are your students GoNoodling?  If not get on it!!!  You will be the happiest teacher!!

How has your first week (or month) been?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Currently - September

Well my summer vacation is officially over!  I am not sure where it went, but I am super excited to meet my new class tomorrow.  In the spirit of ending and beinginning, I am linking up with the amazing Farley for this month's Currently.

The 3 Trips are 3 places I have never been, but would like to visit one day.  
I am off to tackle my To Do list.  Be sure to check out what everyone else is Currently up to.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Setting Up GoNoodle Expectations

I am SOOOOO EXCITED for the first GoNoodle linky!  With one week before I am back to school, and two weeks before my kiddos arrive, my mind is racing with everything I need to get done.  One thing that I keep thinking about is how I am going to launch GoNoodle with my new class.  
I didn't start using GoNoodle until mid year with my last group, and they were already familiar with Brain Breaks, just not the amazing, fun, interactive, digital kind.  However, the excitement of Maximo, Koo Koo Kangaroo, and Airtime adventures made it easy grab my students' attention.  With their excitement in the palm of my hand there was still one more thing that had to take place...introducing GoNoodle Expectations.  These expectations allowed for quick and easy transitions, positive Dojo Points and an overall happy brain break.
I know that starting off with GoNoodle Expectations will be my first step this year.  The poster above serves as an easy checklist and reminder.  You can grab a copy of this poster by clicking on the image or here.
Students are assigned a GoNoodle spot for a couple of reasons.  This allows for quick transitions before and after brain breaks. These assigned spots also eliminate the need for students to stand way to close to each other, or side-by-side with their best buddy.
Teaching students to focus on them self gets the kiddos using each GoNoodle brain break correctly.  If students are worried about looking silly in front of their peers they are never going to experience the benefits of Wiggle It or Empire State.  By only worrying about their own actions they can reap the true benefits of GoNoodle.
The last two expectations are self explanatory, I hope anyway.
Once our expectations are in order, we will be GoNoodling up a storm.  Be sure to follow my blog for the latest on GoNoodle fun throughout the year.

What are your GoNoodle Expectations?  

Don't forget to check out all of the other great GoNoodle ideas in the first linky!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meet the Teacher

Yup, that's me!  I'm Marcy, a thirty-something first grade teacher.  I am entering my 10th year of teaching with experience as a fifth grade teacher and ESL specialist under my belt.  I have taught in Michigan and California, but have called Oregon home now for many years.  

I am married to this amazing man...
He is amazing!  He is by far the hardest working person I have ever met, and that's coming from a work-a-holic!

This is our fur child...
His name is Raph (after the Ninja Turtle).  He is our spunky, allergy ridden child, and we love him for that.


Coffee, my iPad, The Big Bang Theory, GRIMM, Brat Pack movies, skiing, outdoor adventures, smiles, smelly stickers, smelly markers, smelly pens, ok smelly things, but good smelling things.

I would want to be a chef in a test kitchen.  I have always had this dream of working with Rachel Ray and crafting recipes with her.  
A girl can dream, right?!?!

Sensitive. Competitive. Giving.  


"Sure, I'll take all the new kids...said no teacher EVER!!"


Tristan Prettyman - she is my favorite artist and human (the chick is real) 
Mo Willems - I bet he would be the life of the party


 Shit Happens And Then You... 

 Teleportation, so that I could spend more time with friends and family that live far away. 


"Be More Awesome."  - Kid President 


 "Free Fallin'" - Tom Petty

I am totally a morning person.  I just need my coffee, but then I am ready to conquer the day.


I love my Roll-Read-Color  Roll-Read-Write bundle.  It is by far the most used item in my classroom.  Not only do I love it, but my students have loved it each year.  Plus, it is the simplest center to prep!  

I am terrified of sharks.  I may love teaching my kiddos our ocean unit, but I cringe and have a hard time looking at ANY shark picture.

Be sure to head over to Falling Into First's blog to get to know other Teacher Bloggers.