Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blasting Off A Great Year

Do you ever have those moments when an idea just appears?  You are not even sure where it comes from, but it is there.  This happened.  And I just could not get that idea out of my head.  It just kept pushing its way forward until I finally did something about it!
After much creating, printing, cutting, laminating, and mounting, my idea is ready to "blast off" and help our firsties have a great year!

So what was this fantastic, ground breaking idea?  Face-Off--Book Style.

I wanted more interaction between my students and the bulletin boards we spend so much time on (or in my case, a hallway wall).  So I decided that I would post two books.  Both books would be read-aloud books that all students had heard the previous week.  For example: maybe during the first week of school I read "The Crayon Box That Talked" and "Falling for Rapunzel." 

engage students by asking them to recommend books to others

   Then students vote on the book that they would recommend to others.  Voting materials could include die cuts or stickers (for a pictograph) or rectangles (for a bar graph).  They would place their vote right there on the board (or my wall). Once the data is collected, oral questions about the graph could be asked.  I have some of our questions posted right on the wall for students to ponder.
engage students by asking them to recommend books to others

As the year progresses, our questions will change.  One week the questions may be more math related and another week they may be more reading related.
Once I started coming up with more oral questions, I decided that I may need some response sheets.  So now I have sheets for graphing, comparing/contrasting author's purpose, comparing/contrasting plot, and opinion writing.

And I am so excited.  REALLY excited. 

It is something new that will be easy for me to change out each week (just the books).  I can make it a quick voting activity during transitions with oral questions.  Or I can decide to go more in-depth with responding through written work.  It can take a couple of minutes a week or a couple of hours.  It is up to me.

I like the flexibility of it.

Here is a free download for you.  It is the "Face-Off" banner.  If you want all the question cards and response sheets, just click any of the images above.

I am so happy that I got to share this idea with you!  I hope it helps you to "blast off" to a good year with your students! 

Head on over to Literacy Spark for your next literacy stop!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Twas the night before school...... FREEBIE!

Tomorrow is the day.  Tomorrow is the day our cute little firsties will walk through the door and we will start to mold and shape their minds.  We will watch as their eyes grow wide with wonder.  We will watch as those same eyes will squint, sometimes with question, sometimes with defeat, and sometimes because we need to refer them to the nurse for a quick eye check.  :)  We will watch them fail sometimes, it's ok. Because when we fail, we learn.  We will build them up and provide them with the support they need to feel like Rocky.  WE are their everything for 9 months (or over 1,000 hours of instruction because that's how we're counting it now people).  :)  And quite honestly..... for about 9 months they are mine.

Here's to a new year where WE will make a difference.

If you'd like a copy of first day bracelets for your kiddos, click on the picture and it'll take you to a FREEBIE!!!  Or you can click HERE.  The ones above are what I will use tomorrow for our First Day of First Grade.  If you'd like that copy, leave me your email and I will send them your way! :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

True Love

I officially have a preschool graduate.

 I feel proud of her....and older.

But I have to say that watching her grow has given me such a different perspective on the reading process.  I thought I understood it as I watched my students become little readers and authors each year.  But to watch the process grow year after year...little by little...sounds to letters to letter sounds to words to phrases to sentences to books.  And on top of it  True love.  Can't pull her away from the book section at Target love.  Can't keep up with all the stacks of books all over the house love.
The transformation is just remarkable to me.

I really enjoy the process.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Continuing to Grow and Change

Change.  Many times it is a good thing.  But that doesn't always make it makes change tricky.  Some change is brought on myself and I look forward to it with each new year.  Some change I know is coming and I think I'm ready but may realize that I'm not.  But it doesn't really matter, does it?  Change will happen anyways.

One of the best parts about our profession (I think) is the fresh start each year.  A new school year means that I get to try again.  The things I did wrong last year, I can make right this year.  And the things I did right, I can try to do again.   I do not look back at my lesson plans (unless I'm really stumped) because I love doing things a little differently each year.  Pushing myself just a little bit harder to find a better way. 

I started organizing in my different classrooms and "office" this week.  All of sudden I came home with piles of file folders and empty binders.  My filing system has always been the same.  Manilla folders with labels in a filing cabinet. Last year it started to evolve into more digital files that I just printed as needed.  But this summer I realized that I'm overwhelmed.  The files are all so spread out and I don't really know what I have.  Anyone else in this boat?

So I started printing some digital files off, pitching some old files, hole punching, organizing, and labeling.

 But also sweating and worrying.  Getting used to a new system is a little nerve racking to me.  But the change is necessary.  I've got to grow with the change around me.  So this is my binder to help me organize my word work groups that I will have this year.  I've got to be efficient.  I will be meeting with 11 different groups(reading, writing, math, word work) each day.

Another big change smacked me in the face tonight.  And it's name is Kindergarten.  My oldest starts tomorrow.  She will actually be at my school for just this one year and so I have felt pretty excited about this change.  But tonight as she made her own lunch, it sunk in that this next stage in our life is really here. Hmmm....this change feels trickier than I thought it would.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Craft GIVEAWAY: Creative Teacher Bookmarks

 It is that time again!!! Yea!!! A Creative Teacher Giveaway!  It is important for teachers to show that creative side (I know, I if we don't in the classroom).  But it is still fun to create something new!

Last time I made handmade-stitched cards.  This time....(drum roll)...BOOKMARKS!  They are super cute ribbon and button bookmarks.  I think they would be perfect for students that are reading chapter books, volunteer gifts, or  just for yourself!  The inspiration came from this photo that I saw on Pinterest (I linked the image to the original source; however, it only takes you to an image):

So I will share with you how I made mine.  Then you can make some too!
Here's what you need to make one:

1. Any kind of ribbon (the length does not need to be exact)
2. Buttons (any kind laying around the house will work)
3. Elastic hair ties (any size will work--I only had the smaller ones)
4. Needle and thread

Here's what I did.
1. I wrapped the ribbon around a book.  I cut it a few inches short of the ends touching each other.
2. I sewed a button to one end of the ribbon.
3. I sewed the other end of the ribbon to the elastic band.

That's it!!  It should look like this:

But WAIT! Before you run off to make can win some that I made :)  Here they are:

All classroom or homeschool teachers in U.S. may enter to win these bookmarks.  If you win, I will email you.  Please respond with your address within 7 days so that you can use them right away! :) Good luck everyone!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Now hop on over to I'm Lovin' Lit and find out what Erin has in store for you!!


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

FarFaria...Check it Out...Win It!

Back to School time....  So many ideas, giveaways, excitement and sales are floating around.  The positive energy is contagious and I LOVE it!

My job is a little different because I co-teach with four other first grade teachers.  I have been getting together with them to brainstorm, plan, create, and then brainstorm some more.  Each year brings about something new and we have the opportunity to try things out, see if it works....a HUGE perk about our job!

One idea that I had this year: A Breakfast Club.

I have breakfast duty each morning.  My face is the first one they see when they walk into the building :)  I would like to start a little club that reads books or listens to books on our iPads (because I am trying to incorporate these more too!)  I have found some different apps and websites that I would like to use with these students.  One of them is FarFaria.

The app works on iPads, iPhones, and Android Devices.  You can read 1 free story a day or you can pay a monthly membership fee to have access to over 750 books.  That is a TON of books!!  I was super interested in trying this out, so FarFaria was nice enough to let me try it out this summer AND  I can offer one FREE membership to a reader (more about that in a minute)!!

I have a four and five year old at home.  They were the perfect subjects. We tried out all the different components of the app.  Then I tried it out on my two year old nephew.  Same results.  Easy to use....they LOVED it!

I wanted to share with you what I found.  There are four sections: Home, Explore, My Favorites, and Parents.  When you click on "Explore" this FarFaria world comes up.  The child can pick what subject matter they are interested in: animals, classics, fairy tales, etc.

Once they choose a land, it looks like this:

The child hits enter and a whole array of books comes up:

The child can scroll through the books.  The levels are in the bottom right hand corner of the book.  But I had no idea what the numbers meant.  So I searched through the "parent" section and found this:

Once a book is picked there are three options: Auto play, Read to Me, or Read to Self.  My girls love to listen to books; therefore, they always seem to choose "auto play."  But the words are highlighted as the story is read.  That makes me one happy mom and teacher!
Here is a quick video of a story being read aloud and a second video of Ruby trying out the "read to self" option.



Once a story is completed, the child can have their picture taken with the story!  I really like this feature because it celebrates the reader.  I imagine having these pictures hanging somewhere to show off my Breakfast Club and all their great reading.  Here is Ruby:
Overall I really like that this app is simple, but has a lot to offer.  There are so many stories and 5 more are added each week.  The kids can enjoy reading or being read to.  I am really looking forward to trying it out with my students.  I think they are going to respond really well to it.

I would love to give away a 3 month membership to one of our Curious followers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget that you still have 4 more days to enter to win an iPad mini!!  This would go great with the FarFaria app!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Back to School Giveaway

I am so excited to be a part of an AMAZING back to school giveaway specifically geared towards the primary grades!!  There are 42 other first grade bloggers participating.  There will be 3 winners that will each receive 14 products!

 You can enter on the Firstie Friends Facebook Page, and you can earn a LOT of entries. Go to the tabs under the header picture and click the tab that says "Giveaway". The giveaway will end on Thursday August 4th at 8pm CST. At the bottom of this post you will also find links to ALL of my Firstie Friends' stores! :)


How great to start school with so many new products!! Good luck in the giveaway!