Monday, December 31, 2012

Refreshed and Ready

Hi all,

It has been such a wonderful break.  I didn't get much done, but I really needed a mental and physical rest.  Now I'm feeling ready to go back and face it all again.  Of course, that will probably last until about 10:00 on Wednesday when we go back.  Hehehe!

I'm going to be starting a unit on weather soon.  I want to approach it differently this time around, so it should be interesting to see how it goes.  I'm going to start with the question:  What makes the weather?  I plan on having my students keep weather journals which will include a graph of various types of weather.  Along with this, we will also hit a little bit about the sun/earth/moon dynamic and also explore the seasons.  So much to teach, so little time!

We're starting into place value in math.  This will be my first place value unit using the common core standards.  My big goal isn't just place value, but my students will also gain number sense, which to me is a much more complex thing to teach than just simple place value.

We've been focusing on long vowels in reading, so we'll continue with that.  We've done the silent e pattern, and now we'll start to hit the vowel pairs.

The lovely Dibels mid-year assessment starts a week from today.  I sure hope the 3 days we have back in school is enough for them to get back into the swing of reading, because I'm guessing some of my students didn't read much over the break...naturally, the ones who didn't read are the very ones who need to the most.

I found this fun little snowman project that I might try out.  It's on my pinterest January board.
And that's enough rambling for now!  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Resolutions: Organization

I've linked up again, this time with 2nd Grade shenanigans.  Click above to visit their site.

My Students

I help my students stay organized by using a color-coded folder system.  Green is for "go" so anything in there goes home at the end of the day.  Red is for "stop" so anything in there stays at school so we can finish it or use it again.  There's a purple folder with their math pages because I can't stand to give them the whole math book, so I tear out a chapter at a time and they keep the pages in their folders.  There's a blue data folder where they graph their progress on various things.

They know that there are no papers allowed in their desks, all papers must be in a folder.  I have a job which is the desk checker.  That person on random days goes around and gives out clean desk coupons, and messy desk tickets.  Coupons are good for a reward of the student's choice.  I have a list of things such as: take pictures with the digital cameras, trade jobs for a day, use the iPad for fun (meaning they can play angry birds and other games that aren't really overly educational), etc.

For areas where students tend to be messy, I take a picture of what it should look like and post it nearby.  That helps a lot!

My goal here will be to figure out a better system of getting papers back to the students.  I think I might make it a classroom job at the end of the day.


I'm generally pretty well organized mentally.  I know what I'm going to do and how to do it, etc.  But I'm horrible at keeping track of paperwork and knowing where to put things.  This is worse since I'm in a new room this year.  I put things down and don't have a place for them yet, so they wind up lost or buried in piles.  This was a goal of mine for this school year, and it's just not going well.  There's so much going on in the classroom, it's easy to get distracted from something as minor as where to put a piece of paper.  (Yes, I know that's an excuse!)  

My goal here will be to get my files that are sitting on my filing cabinet sorted through and put away, then to keep doing this as I go along.  I don't dare make a goal about my desk right now.  I'd be setting myself up for failure before I even start.  Hehehe.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Technology Resolutions

Hi all,

I am linking up with Growing Kinders and am about to make some technology resolutions for 2013.

First, I have always loved technology and have always been one of the first ones in my school to use it.  I find it exciting, but also a lot of work!


My school was fortunate enough to get several 6 ipad kits that we can check out to use in our classrooms.  They've just become available and I'm just starting to use them.  For right now they're being used mostly as center-type activities where students use apps.  My goal for these is to figure out ways to use them more often.  There aren't a lot of apps on them yet, so I might use them like the ipods listed below.

I also have an iPad that my school provided me with about 1 1/2 years ago.  I spent last summer getting very familiar with it and have really loved the resources I've found.  I use the iPad for running my computer (doceri), documenting student work (threering), progress monitoring (mclass), and behavior tracking (class dojo).  I also hand it to students on occasion.  This iPad is connected to my apple account, so it has several apps that I have paid for.

I have several previous posts regarding ipads:


I received 8 iPods through Chevron and Donorschoose.  My students love them!  They use apps when they finish work early.  They LOVE Fetch's Lunch Rush (a little too much)!  My latest use was to teach them how to make videos.  I can see this is going to take a little more time, but it's more of a project-based approach to learning.  So, one of my goals for the ipods is to get my students better at taking videos and to assign more projects where they create videos.

There are more apps on the iPods because I used my own apple account with them, so they have several apps I've paid for on them.  See the above link about iPads to see some of the apps I have.

Digital Cameras

I have 6 digital cameras that I received from a donorschoose project last year.  I have been distracted with the ipods and ipads this year and they have hardly been used.  I need to get these cameras back into the hands of my students.  Last year we made some cute books using pictures the students took.


My school has clickers we can check out from the library.  I used these a lot last year, but haven't gotten them out this year.  It seems like I can only focus on so much technology!  I need to find the presentations I made last year and get those out with the clickers this year, at the very least.


I'm learning how to write this blog and I have a class website.  I need to be better about updating both of them.

Computer/Projector/Document Camera
I can't live without my computer, projector and document camera in my classroom.  My big goal for this would be to find new ways to keep my students engaged while using these.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Freebie Gift for you

Merry Christmas!

I have created a freebie card game.  It's a game which helps students learn sums of a certain number, or can also be thought of as a missing addend game.  It's similar to Go Fish.  The matches are numbers that add up to 10, or 12 or whatever number.  You can get the freebie at my store by clicking on the image below.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stained Glass Art

Hi all,

Today was the last day of school for 2012!  I tried something I got from TPT and my students loved it.  It's from Teacher's File Cabinet and it's called Elementary Christmas Stained Glass Window Cling ART.

It was a nice, quiet, calming activity on a hyperactive type of day.  Here are some of my students' windows.

This was the one I made.  the purple and blues look the same in the picture, but different when held to the light.

Anyone know how to turn a picture's orientation on blogger?  

This kid liked yellow!

I love the color choices on this one.

This kid was being meticulous about his coloring.

Can you tell I recently showed them how to draw stars?  

Love this, "Mom's Present"  

Very nice work here.

Another one where I loved the color scheme.

More stars.  :)

 If you want a simple, but beautiful project for your students, I suggest you go check it out.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012



It's what I call the Christmas Crazies time of year.  The kids are wound up. We are all anxiously awaiting Christmas break.

Each week my class learns about a particular value.  This week's value, to go along with the season, is generosity.  I love it when students exhibit these values or use the vocabulary of them in my classroom.

Today we went to a reward activity.  All of my students except for one earned the activity, which turned out to be icing cookies and then eating them.  I reminded the child who didn't earn the reward why she wasn't getting to participate, and thanked her for being a good sport about it.  It was easy to tell she was upset, but she accepted the consequence.

One of my other students saw how upset she was and quietly came up to me (so no one else would hear) and asked if she could give some of her cookie to the little girl that lost the reward.

What a sweet and thoughtful thing.  It may just be part of a cookie, but it certainly showed a great deal of compassion and generosity.  Small acts of kindness sometimes mean more than great deeds.  This one touched my heart deeply.

I'm wishing you all small moments like this during this holiday season and throughout the year.


The clip art and fonts used in this post are copyright Dianne J Hook. Lic. # 1113176254

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Final Stretch

Hi all,

I have 4 days this week.  I don't know about you, but my students are very antsy.  My solution to this is to give them lots of chances to do something physical (Heidisongs, Fetch's Lunch Rush, etc.) and to stick as much as possible to the routine for as long as I can.

One of the fun things we'll be doing this week is the Christmas Sing.  In the morning we all go in the gym and sit in a circle.  Each grade level sings two songs to the rest.  At the end the whole school sings a song about peace.  That afternoon we sing for the parents.  Our first grade is singing a cute song called Ichabod Elf.  It's about Santa's tattle tale elf named Ichabod.  The second song we do is the first verse of Silent Night.  I teach the students the words in sign language and they sign the song.  Silent Night has become a first grade tradition.  We can't not do it.

My students will be finishing up their gifts for parents and wrapping them.  We'll have our regular math and reading blocks and continue with our Holidays Around the World unit.  Hopefully, we'll manage to make it to Mexico, Italy, Australia, and Sweden.  It's so hard to fit everything in this time of year.

I haven't decided what if anything we'll do about the Sandy Hook tragedy.  I have a few things mentally prepared, but I'm making the decisions on the fly based on how my students are handling it.  I know I'll be more thankful for every one of their toothless grins today.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sadness and Happiness


Yesterday's tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary is beyond understanding.  My heart breaks for the children, the teachers and their families.  There were some heroic educators in that school yesterday who put their students' lives ahead of their own.  The people of this community remain in my thoughts and prayers.


I'm excited to report there are two winners from my 100 Follower Giveaway!  Congratulations to Lori A. and Cherie M. on your wins!  Watch your e-mail for details about your prizes!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

More than 100 awesome followers!


I am so excited to present my very first official giveaway!  I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to comment on my blog and to follow me.  I have so many generous friends, that I split the giveaway into two.  Sign up for one or both!  This is my first time at this, so if you run into any problems let me know and I'll do my best to figure it out.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Fun, Giveaways and more!

Christmas Fun

I was so excited to find these great Christmas tree number bonds/fact families.

It was one of my purchases during the big tpt store sale last week.  I combined the idea with something I saw on pinterest and here's what happened!
I laminated the cards and attached the string so they can hang from the ceiling.
The students used dry erase markers to write the fact family and built the chains.
We did this after we made an advent calendar with the chains, so the kids are really good at the chains now.  We didn't get them all made, but will finish them up during small group time next week.


I'm quickly nearing a  100 follower milestone!  I'm thinking about doing my first give away!  :)  Stay tuned.

In the meanwhile, My Christmas Kids Math Card Game is being given away over at The Realistic Teacher's Blog.  Click the picture below to enter to win not only my packet, but lots of other goodies.

And More!

I learned the hard way this week which way to face ipods when video taping.  We did this fun project where the students had to find nouns or verbs with a specific letter sound in them.  Then they had to say the letter, the sound and the show the verb or noun.  They look so cute, but they're all sideways!  Oops!  So we'll do it again.  I'll show the kids the sideways videos, so they can learn from some of the little errors they made and we'll end up with a better product.

I finally got the cards all cut out from my Christmas Kids Math Cards packet.  I can't wait for the kids to play these games!  I have a busy week ahead, but will try to get some pictures up.