Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Good Morning" Finally!

For the past few years I have done breakfast duty.  I ask to do breakfast duty.  I love it.

I get to be one of the first people to smile at those kiddos as they start their day.  It is a big responsibility.  We all want our day to start well and we all want to feel welcome.

I can honestly say that most of the time I get nothing in return.  No "good morning."  No smile. No "hello." Not even a glance up. I keep smiling and reminding myself that my job is to welcome them. 

But this year I decided to discuss what to do when someone says "Good morning."  I talked about how it makes someone feel when you return the "Good morning."  It was a very quick discussion but Oh.My.Goodness...

Every morning since I have received so many smiles, "hellos," "good mornings."  I will even have some students stand there and stare at me until I realize that they are waiting for me to say "Good morning" so that they can say it back.

Maybe they just did not know to respond to me.  Maybe they had never been taught.  Maybe no one says that to them when they wake up in the morning.

Well, I say it to them.  I am happy that they are there everyday.  I am happy that I am there everyday and that we can now make each other feel welcome everyday.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


My letters are either a week late or just a few hours early....depending on how you want to look at it :)

One week of school is under my belt, which makes it the perfect time for some Sunday Morning (or Saturday night) letters.

Dear Ruby,
Thank you for wanting to go to Kindergarten.  Being excited to learn.  It makes my job as a mom and teacher much, much easier.
Your Mom

My Ben,
Thank you for standing with Ruby as she waited for Kindergarten to start.  I loved that you were there with us.  I know it is your job as a parent too...but I still appreciate it.

Dear Team,
Thanks for being so inspiring.  Your rooms all look amazing, cozy, and student centered.  You are all doing such a great job of setting up our grade level expectations.  I appreciate that you include me and help the students to see that I am a part of the team and not a "helper."  I look forward to the year!
Your Title I teacher

Dear Building,
We have really become such a tight team.  We have changed together.  Grown together. Learned together.  Cried together.  Become stronger together.  And I am so thankful because it makes the environment feel safe, loving, and welcoming.  Thank you.
Your thankful teammate

Dear Pretzel Buns,
You are becoming an obsession.  I love to eat you.  You taste too good.
A bread lover
Dear Mentee #1 and new teammate,
Thank you for your passion.  I know I am overwhelming.  A little too involved.  Send you a little too much.  Ask questions too much.  But I mean well!  I know you are going to have a great year and I am here to help in anyway!
Your (little too passionate) co-teaching teammate

Dear PBS,
Peep and the Big Wide World cracks me up.  Like...we all laugh out loud at the characters.  Thank you for this.  There are some days when we just need to laugh together.
A Mom

Dear Mentee #2,
I look forward to getting to know you this year.  Title I can be a really hard position.  But it is also so rewarding.  You have a strong team and you are a great fit!
Your Year 2 Mentor

Dear Natalie,
Thanks for being my new menu buddy!  I am trying out some of your recipes this week.  It makes my weekly meal planning just a little bit more fun!
Your forever teammate

Dear Cinnamon Life Cereal,
I love you just a little bit too much.  Why can't you be as healthy as carrots or kale?  I'm just would make my life a little bit easier if you didn't taste so good.
A life long fan

Who would you like to write your Sunday Morning Letters to?

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!!