Friday, January 24, 2014

Five for Friday - An Organized Classroom

It felt so great to be back with my students this week.  I only got two days with them last week, due to my three days in bed combating yuck!  We had a jam-packed week of learning, but I also had a crazy amount of cleaning and organizing to take care of.  I am hosting a group of first grade teachers from around the district on Monday so tidying-up was in order.  I keep an organized classroom overall, but you all know what it is like before company comes just have to make sure everything is in its place.
Here are five of my favorite organizational pieces that help keep me in order...

1. My Teacher Toolbox

I think this is the most used tool in my entire classroom!

2. Milk Crate Benches

I love the storage they provide.

3. Math Bins and Monthly Tubs

Prepping and storing centers can be such a hassle.  These tubs have changed that for me!  It is so easy to grab activities and put them away now that everything has a home.  All of my literacy centers, author study materials, and content examples are stored in the monthly tubs.  Math materials are organized by overarching categories.  The adorable labels are from That's So Second Grade's TPT store.

4. Daily Drawers

I used file folders for years, but they could never hold everything for the day.  These drawers are my absolute favorite.  They allow me to print for the week and put items in their homes, but they also make it easy to find what a need when I need it.  You can grab the daily labels here.

5. Classroom Library Bins

It has taken a long time to feel like my classroom library is organized and student friendly.  This year, I redid all of the baskets and numbered each book to make it easier for students to return and find books. The time was worth it, as my kiddos use it constantly!

What are your greatest organizational tools?

Monday, January 20, 2014

I can't take it anymore!

My students are amazing!  Honestly, they are incredible!  They love learning, work hard, are creative, enjoy writing, are respectful....I could go on and on.  Unfortunately, they are hesitant risk-takers especially with spelling during writing.  I always work toward teaching my kiddos to know and use their resources, but I still hear, "How do you spell...?"
I decided that it was time to create an anchor chart for spelling expectations.  We came together as a class and reviewed different spelling resources in our classroom.  This is what my students came up with...

After creating and reviewing this chart, I provided students with a journal prompt and they were off.  Within minutes a couple of hands popped up..."How do you...?"  They stopped themselves and went to the chart.  More and more kiddos began getting out their writing folders and using our file folder word walls (by the incredible Erica Bohrer).

What do you do to encourage spelling independence?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

We Have A Freebie

After 3 days of laying in bed and not being able to move from a fever, I was able to sit up and check 1 thing off of my To-Do List....a Facebook Fan Freebie!  I am so excited to finally have this up and working.  It was not easy, but thanks to a tutorial from Christi Fultz, I worked through it.

Be sure to like Searching For Teacher Balance on Facebook and grab the freebie.  I will be changing it up every so often, so check back!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Five For Friday - A New Year

With a new year and a new start, I am focusing on the little things.  It is the little things that get us through the day, put a smile on our faces, and give us something to laugh about; right?!?
I am linking up with DoodleBugs to showcase my 5 little things...

1. This guy
He always finds a way to make me laugh and feel loved.  How can you not smile looking at him?

2. Cuteness!
Everything about this mug is amazing!  First of all, it holds COFFEE!  Second of all, it has donuts on it!

3. Mo Willems
He is a genius!

4. Smelly Markers
It is no lie!  I LOVE smelly markers.  They bring me back to my childhood, when times were less stressful!

5. "Maybe the Best Hasn't Happened Yet"
I live by these words from my favorite artist Tristan Prettyman.  I love being reminded of them, as I wear the phrase on my wrist! (No, I don't wear 10 of them, just one!)

What little thing helps brighten your day?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Recipe and a Read Aloud - Friendship Edition

The Recipe:
It's that time of year...germs are flying everywhere as we get back into the groove of school.  As a way to combat the beginning signs of a cold, I make Cold Care juice.



1 1/2 LEMONS 





Juice all ingredients. 
Makes 1 really BIG juice.  Drink and Enjoy!
(c/o PureMamas)

The Read Aloud:
It is crazy important to review rules and expectations the first week back.  I love using picture books to teach and review expectations.
During a trip to the bookstore, I stumbled upon Ribbit!, by Rodrigo Folgueira.

This book addresses that some people try acting like others to be their friend.  It all came back to the fact that when someone copies you, they are not trying to be mean, they are trying to be like you.
The illustrations are also INCREDIBLE!

Have you ever juiced?  What read aloud do you use to reinforce positive behavior?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Following Option

Happy Tuesday!  I hope that everyone's week is off to a GREAT start.  I know for some of you, this is your first week back from Winter Break.
I am finally getting around to learning how to add a Facebook Fan Freebie and wanted to give you all a chance to follow Searching for Teacher Balance via Facebook before it gets posted!  Be sure to check your feed for more information soon!
Have an awesome day!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Base-10 Basics

This past week, we jumped right back into the swing of things.  Thanks to EverydayMath's spiraling curriculum, my students were finally introduced to base-10.
I love launching new concepts with an exploration.  I busted out our base-10 bin and allowed students to "play" with the manipulatives first.  I truly believe that student need time to handle and play with tools before being asked to learn with them.  After students explored, we met on the carpet for an introduction of base-10.  We learned about the value that each tool holds.  Students then took a bag of base-10 tools to their seats and began creating numbers.

Of course, we wrote on our tables with dry erase markers!  I was thoroughly impressed with how quickly students picked up this concept.
In hopes of solidifying the concept even more, we read A Place for Zero, by Andeiline Sparagna LoPresti.  It is a fabulous tale of the number zero and how it searches for its place in Digitaria.

Do you have any great tools and activities that have worked for teaching base-10?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Happy Place

In my quest for teacher balance, I try hard to go to my happy place often.  Live music is definitely My Happy Place.  Unfortunately, I cannot carry a tune to save my life, but I have many friends who make up for my musical deficit.  A huge perk to living outside Portland is the large amount of incredible bands that pass through.  The icing on the cake is a great venue for the bands to perform in; Portland has this going for it as well.
My husband and I recently attended the Fitz and the Tantrums show, which was a part of this year's December2Remember.

If you live in or near Portland, Oregon, I highly recommend you check out 94.7's incredible line up.  Each year is better than the previous one's.

I also got to meet David Giuntoli, from GRIMM!  :)

What is your HAPPY PLACE?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

DINOmite Math

I am convinced that math centers are the greatest part of my students' day.  Just like literacy centers, they have the entire week to complete each center.  Every week there is a center aligned to each of the following categories: Data and Measurement, Facts, Operations, Numbers, and Geometry.
As a way to support these categories, I created a new center pack.  My boys love's dinosaur themed!

Leave a comment below, with your email address, for a chance to win this pack.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Launching Measurement

I LOVE launching new math units!  First grade is filled with so many foundational math skills, measurement being one of them.  I have learned that understanding measurement takes a lot of hands-on practice, with a variety of units.

Nonstandard Measurement!

They even measured me!

This was such a fun and powerful lesson.  After just this one day of practice, 80% of my students are consistently using correct units when documenting their measurements!

How do you launch measurement in your classroom?