Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back to School Already!

Is it me or did summer fly by this year? We had open house last night and room/lesson prep today.  Tomorrow my new kiddos will enter my room and the year begins!  It is exciting and nerve racking at the same time.  Just like the kids I get nervous of the unknown, but I have learned to embrace it because what fun would it be if you knew what each day would hold?  
This year I figured I would share what my kids will see on their first day.  I changed it up a bit this year and decided to not do assigned seats and let the kids pick their best place to work.... CRAZY right?  I am hoping this goes well and I am keeping my fingers crossed that this group will make it happen.  Since I don't have assigned seats I created personalized color pages for when they first come in.  Here is a peek at what they look like.  

If you go to Doodle Art Alley there are a lot of name plate color pages you can choose from. I snapshot them into Powerpoint and added the names with a text box.  It was pretty simple and I think this will help the kids find their seats until they are ready to learn about picking their own. 

I also managed to snag a few extra goodies that I had to make work in my room.  I got a new bookshelf to display my theme books for each unit and then I also got a stage. Yes a STAGE!!! Oh the things that are possible.  Author share time and celebrations will be perfect for this! Check them out. 

 Can you guess our first theme unit from the books up top? 

My sweet husband sent me my yearly flowers for open house and it was a success.  I love getting to meet all the new kids and their parents.  I know this year is going to be great! Can't wait to post first week pictures. 

On an end note here is a funny video to get you laughing for your first week back.  If you're a teacher you will get this 100%.  Happy teaching! 


Monday, August 1, 2016

Open House Student Gift

Summer is starting to come to an end which means I have to officially stop procrastinating and get stuff done.  This is always an exciting time of year for me.  My classroom is so clean and organized, I have new pretty supplies setting out, and my creative juices start flowing with ideas that drive my husband crazy because it means another job for him. I have been back and forth on what to give my kids for gifts this year.  Last year I did these adorable water bottles, but the downside was every child kept them at school and wanted to fill them up every hour on the hour.  I'm pretty sure they were more concerned with the water bottles than any learning the first week.  

I decided to go a different route and make something that I would love, the parents would love, and hopefully the kids would love.  I decided to make personalized bookmarks with their names and buy a bunch of books for cheap.  They could find their bookmark, a just right book for them, and stamp their name inside to make it officially theirs.  I loved this idea because first grade is such an important year for reading growth.  They have no idea how much they are going to learn!  You can grab the FREE template from Brown Bag Teacher for the bookmarks here.  
The bookmarks aren't 100% done...I still need to add some fun ribbon to the ends, but you get the idea.  I forgot that Scholastic Teacher Shop isn't open until August 1st and I didn't want to wish and pray they arrived on time so I stopped by my local Goodwill.  Can you believe I scored 25 books that were BRAND new with no sign of even being read and only for a quarter! Cheap gift ideas are amazing! 

I made this cheesy poem to place in a frame on a table for open house next to the books.  If you want to download the google document click here to edit. I would love to know other ideas that you are thinking of doing.  Please share!  


Friday, July 8, 2016

Visual Plans...Digging Deeper

It is still summer and I really should be sitting by the pool working on my tan, but instead I am preparing plans for next school year.  We recently went from GLE’s, to adapting Common Core, to now using the Missouri Learning Standards. The past couple years have been crazy with curriculum, but I am finally happy that there are standards in place and we actually know 100% what we are to be teaching.   
I started creating visual plans and units for the year based on our new standards and I thought I would share what our first unit looks like.  We chose to focus on character education since it’s the beginning of school and we chose responsibility, respect, honest, and friendship as our key themes.  All of these are used in out daily Plattin Pledge that we use.

Obviously is Google Docs you can pull this up and really look at the links/images needed for this five week period.  I plan to have all of the quarterly learning targets, PDF copies, links, and pacing guides done by August 15th.  Let’s hope that I can make that happen.  I only have 2 units left, American Contributors and Stars and Our Universe.  I am attaching a link to my first quarter folder where you will find the plans, PDF copies and a sample of our learning targets.  If you have more questions please feel free to email me.  Some of the items might be missing, as they were units I purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers and can’t share.


Friday, May 6, 2016

DINO-MITE Discovery

This week has been so much fun learning all about dinosaurs, but it has also been exhausting.  Is it me or do the last two weeks of school take everything out of you? I feel like I am going non-stop to get grades done, data sheets finished, and still try to keep the learning going in my classroom.  I have realized if you want sanity the last few weeks of school you have to stick with your ROUTINE as much as possible.  I have really tried to do this as much as possible this year and I have held their attention pretty well.  We will see how next week goes ; ) Only 4 ½ more days until summer.

I really made my focus all about dinosaurs this week because let’s face it, all kids are interested about dinosaurs (especially my boys).  I love this unit for so many reasons! The kids are engaged and it allows for science and creativity to take place. We started off the week with taking a few days to really grow our knowledge about dinosaurs, when they were in existence, and even some geography.  Here are some of the anchor charts we created the first few days along with some fun inferencing and creative projects as well.

I think you can tell the boys really got into this unit!

We took a day to really focus on the differences between herbivores and carnivores.  We read a few informational texts and created a Venn diagram to compare the two. 

We have an end of the year ABC countdown at our school and the letter T stood for teamwork, so I created a dinosaur puzzle that the kids had to put together with sight words.  I had to add the sight words to help add to the level of learning.  I am so happy to say I pulled the 2nd grade first quarter words because over 93% of my students mastered all of their first grade sight words, so I used second grade words as a challenge.  The kids loved these and it focused on working with a partner to complete a task=teamwork!

We were busy learning about our favorite dinosaur the tyrannosaurs rex.  He was a crowd favorite.  I created QR Codes to use as our research tool and the kids came up with facts to add to our anchor chart.  They used their facts they found to make an informative writing piece.  I even let them make a fun t-rex art piece to go with their writing, but I forgot to snap a picture.  I will have to add them to my post on Monday. 

We still made sure to enhance our vocabulary knowledge and this unit was perfect for it.  We added the words extinct, fossil, herbivore, carnivore, paleontologist, and Pangea to our vocabulary bank.  These handy dinosaur vocabulary booklets were perfect for recording our words.

I think one of their favorite activities of the week was getting to do their dinosaur dig.  They worked in teams to dig for bones (wooden 3-d puzzle pieces) and construct a dinosaur.  After they completed the dinosaur they had to open an envelope with facts about their dinosaur and complete a dinosaur stat sheet.  They presented their findings with the class and shared their creation.  I was so surprised with how well they could put together these puzzles. 

Every year that I do this unit I always seem to add to it or make tweaks.  The original unit can be purchased from Deanna Jump.  I added the dinosaur sight word puzzle, dinosaur dig stat page, and QR-code t-rex facts.  I can upload those additional items later this week. I hope you are getting through these last few weeks of school.  The struggle is real, but we can do it!