Sunday, September 29, 2013

First Month OVERLOAD!

Whew!  I don't know about you, but I'm pooped!  
We just ended our first month of school and it has been a whirlwind of SLO's, testing, teaching routines, and this past week was Open House.  I'm sure I'm not the only who is on overload right now.  

So here is a little about the last week or so (since I haven't had a second to pay attention to this little blog).  

First up, since it's so fresh in my mind is Open House.  

I had to go in late one evening this last week after my kids went to bed to pack up the folders for the parents.  There's just no time during the normal day.  Am I the only one who does this?


In each folder I include a classroom informational packet that is specific to our class, a curriculum overview from our district, a list of helpful websites, and some ideas for how parents can help their children at home.  Some of these handouts are older, but if you see something and you know where it came from please let me know so I can give them credit.  

I also had to spend a little time improving the poem I project on my board.  This is just a poem that I made to help parents get to all the things we do.  I'm almost a little embarrassed to show you the one I used last year.  I think this year's was WAY better (thanks to Melonheadz of course!).  


I still need to update the posters and things I put out.  Just not enough time this year =(  
But here are a couple pictures of what it looked like. 

I also can't find the person to credit for the apple poem - would love to know who it is.  The bear on the folder was given to me from the wonderful teacher who retired before me so it's been around a while.  

My next order of business was to make sure my bulletin boards and displays were ready to go.  First up was our All About Me banners.  

  

  


We also do a Math About Me craftivity (which is a freebie in my store).   

  


This picture is from last year because I forgot to take a picture of it this year.  

I've updated this freebie too, so head on over to download your updated file.  =)



 This is a shared bulletin board with my teammate.  We wanted to tie in Character Ed and keep it simple.  The students' names are on the leaves (both  classes) and our character ed words are on the apples at the bottom.  


And finally, in my room I added the students First Day of 1st Grade photos to our First Day Feelings graph.  I don't love the way it looks, but it was a quick one to throw together with little room to work with.  




 Outside of Open House, we've actually been doing some learning too!  Imagine that!  
We've been working hard at getting our center routines down.  We started with these Sweet Centers, which were relatively simple concepts to get them going independently.  

Goodie, Goodie Gumballs - beginning sounds

Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar? - Ending sounds


I Want Candy! - real and nonsense words

What's the Scoop? - rhyming words

What's the Missing Ingredient? - CVC short vowels

These are from my pack of literacy and math centers: Pour Some Sugar On Me.  Any Def Leopard fans out there????  These pictures are just showing the literacy centers.  I will be posting the math centers soon.  We are just getting into our guided math and math tubs.  

 We also started our writing center, which is going really well and the kids LOVE it!!!!  
This shows our September task cards and journals.  

If you are looking for some prompts for your writing center or station, check out my October pack.  



I am also finishing up a little Apple Math pack and would love any ideas.  Right now it focuses on combinations of ten and includes a center that matches pictures with number sentences as well as a student book.  Should I stick with just combinations of 10 or expand into other concepts???  

I'd love to hear your input.  


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Working on Routines

Routines, routines, routines!!!

What else is there really to do in those first few weeks of school?

This was our first full week of school and it was a FULL week.  I don't know about you, but we have so much testing that needs to be done in the beginning of the year and most of it is 1 on 1.  It's so hard in those first weeks to pull students one at a time and expect the rest of the class to work relatively quietly for an extended amount of time.  It just doesn't happen!  And truthfully, it is unfair to expect that 1st graders just coming off of summer CAN do that.  It makes me feel awful to spend so much time at my teacher table testing and not enough time helping them learn our routines.  

For them it's probably like being thrown into a cold pool with all of your clothes on.  There's no time to get used to the water or to even get prepared with the correct attire.  It's just sink or swim!  

Ugh - I just hate that teaching is going in this direction, but I won't spend my whole post complaining.  I will try to at least show you some of the things we did this week when I wasn't testing.  I have to say that I am so proud of my little "swimmers".  I have a GREAT class!!!

Here's a few things we worked on this week:

 First up is Daily Math.   

Each morning students get some practice with number sense, calendar, and even handwriting.  The daily practice is SO important for these little guys to improve number sense.    



Once we get to the number 10, the Number of the Day pages change and include different concepts.  I am already seeing a huge improvement in their number sense.  

Click HERE to read a post about our Daily Math Folders. 

 We also started doing some centers this week.  One center that will be consistent each week is our writing center.  Students have a writing journal and there are monthly task cards at the center to choose from.  This first week we all used the same writing prompt to learn about this center, but eventually they will have the choice of topic.  I can already see what my first mini-lessons need to be: What is a sentence?  Why do need spaces between words?  What's a word???  =)  I joke....well, a little!  They do need a lot of work with their writing.  I'm up for the challenge.  


This week I was thrilled to find so many AWESOME freebies to use with the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  These were the perfect first centers for students to work through and review colors.  I am also lucky enough to have a class set of these books so they all practiced reading this many times this week and get to keep this book in their book box.


 Here are some pictures of the centers we did:

Spin and Graph

Roll and Color


This one isn't for Brown Bear, but is a good review of color words.  

We also completed an adorable mini-book throughout the week by DoodleBugs

Here are the links for the other freebies above:




 Another important routine is our morning meeting.  For the first month of school we focus on student names during our morning meeting.  We do one student's name each day.  

First the students found how many letters are in their names and used these colored squares to write each letter on and then glue onto construction paper.  

We then made a class graph: How many letters are in our names.  Forgot to take a picture =(

Then each day we will use one student's name and count the number of letters, number of vowels, and number of consonants.  Then we will use the letters in their names to make new words.  


The kids LOVE being the focus of our morning meeting and seeing what other words they can make with the letters in their names.  

There was some interest in this idea so I just uploaded this on TpT with a few other ideas in it as well.  

I still have more tests to give next week and then I am excited to just start teaching!  

Do you have lots of tests in the beginning of the year too?  
How do you manage your class while you test?

I linked up with Doodle Bugs for their Five for Friday linky with this post.  I know I had more than 5 things, so I hope it's still ok.  Be sure to click on the link and go check out this linky.  Doodle Bugs is amazing!




Sunday, September 8, 2013

Week 1 is Done!

Well I survived my first week in my 2nd year teaching first grade.  It was definitely less overwhelming than last year, but I still forgot how much reminding these kiddos need to raise their hands and listen and how many breaks they need throughout the day.  I always think I'm prepared for that part of it, and then it comes and I am never fully ready.  They always seem to surprise me and it gets so exhausting having to give so many reminders.  I have to keep telling myself that these kids are still kindergarteners, they are still in summer mode, and they need all of my patience to get through that first day.  So needless to say, I was pooped at the end of the day.  Unfortunately pooped wasn't one of my choices for our First Day Feelings graph =)

As you can see, most of my sweeties were excited for the first day, a bunch were happy (that's mine at the top), a couple were worried, and one little cutie was sad =(   Poor baby!  He was ok, but you could tell he was bumming!  I know how you feel buddy - it's tough when summer is over!

We had some fun finding new friends and the kids were so happy to be up and moving around.  Remember I mentioned how they need breaks?  Yep - they really needed this one (and many others) throughout the first week.  


We did a little Color by Sight Word.

 We also worked on our Back to School book.  
They loved this one and it actually held their attention for about 30 minutes at a time.  



 We get Scholastic News in our classroom, so I spent some time using the big version that they sent us to read together as a class.  We searched for words we knew and used some Stretchy Snake strategies to try to figure out some that we didn't know.  Then I had them re-read these with a buddy.  



 They were so cute trying to find the words we went over and so concerned when they didn't know a word.  Of course I helped reassure them that I didn't expect them to know ALL of the words and just wanted them to see which ones they remembered.  It's so important to try to build their confidence those first few days and teach them that in our classroom it's ok to ask questions, it's ok if you don't know something, and it's safe to make mistakes.  All very important with little learners.  

We did so much more during our first week, but this is just a snapshot into some of it.  It ended up being a terrific start to the year and I have a great group of kids.   After that first day they really snapped back into school mode and remembered classroom routines.  I was so impressed with how quickly they readjusted and am so thrilled to have these little cuties for the next year!

This weekend I got to sleep in a little, went to a Harvest Festival with my family, and decorated some for fall.  I guess if summer HAS to be over, I will embrace the autumn season!  It is really my favorite one after all.


Hope you all had a great week (whether it was your first one or not).  
I know it's going to be a wonderful year!!! =)