Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Five

Happy Friday!  (Yes, I lead such an exciting life that I am blogging at 10 p.m. on a Friday night!)  Tonight I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching Five for Friday.  I haven't linked up in a while and just wanted to share.  I also have a Celebrating 100 Days freebie for you!  So let's get on with it!

Brick Builders is a club I started at school this year and I love it!  I was lucky enough to get a grant to purchase A LOT of Legos!  The club meets twice a month for an hour before school.  The club is free for students and open to boys and girls K-6.  I have about 60-70 students who get up extra early to come build with me. Each meeting I give the students a building challenge. has so many great videos and several challenges.   What they come up with amazes me.  They are really little Lego Engineers!

I just designed the logo above for our shirts and I can't wait to get them in!

This weekend is the big sale, I mean big game!  I have to say I enjoy the Super Bowl party, commercials and snacks.  I am also looking forward to the sale at Teachers Notebook.  They are even updating the site a little tonight making even better.  I am marking my store 50% off for the 2 days!  So please stop by and see if there is anything you need.  I hope to add a few almost done items over the weekend too.

Teachers Pay Teachers isn't doing a Super Bowl Sale this year.  We will have to wait and see if they something else up their sleeves.
 I am addicted to another show.  So if you are looking to get sucked in to a show and do absolutely nothing and binge on a series... Try Heartland!  This is a Canadian series, but you can watch seasons 1-4 on Netflix.  Then I was dying to watch seasons 5-6 so I rush ordered them on DVD.  Yes I know it is crazy!  They are currently showing season 7 in Canada, but we can't get it in the states.  Up TV has started showing it but is a few seasons behind.  I have been trying to find what I can on you tube.
 My 12 year old daughter just showed me the silliest thing ever!  She turned her mouth into a speaker for her iPod.  How, you ask???  She took her ear buds and put them in her nose and opened her mouth.  This amplified the sound.  She definitely made me laugh, so next time you need a party trick, give it a try.  Or turn it in to a science lesson!  (OK, I know several of you are going to give this a try this weekend, or at least get your child to try it.)
Hip Hip Hooray the 100th Day is finished!  We had a very fun, but crazy day!  My class has had indoor recess for the last three days because of the weather.  Then add a birthday celebration with full size chocolate iced doughnuts to the mix.  It was crazy but, fun.  I had a fun 100th day activity at each of my Super 6 Centers (they were all educational too, but I don't think they realized it!)  The kids were having so much fun, that when a mom came to pick her daughters up 30 minutes early, they started crying because they didn't want to leave.  Here is the writing activity I had for my kids to do today and share with the class.  I copied it two-sided and folded it in half to make a little book.  Click here to grab it free!

Freebie Fridays

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Manic Monday with New Things!

Whew, I am glad the school day is done!  The kiddos were crazy today for some reason, but I still had several things go really well and I wanted to share.  I also have a timely Manic Monday freebie to share!

More Wonders....
We use the Wonders reading series.  So far I am liking it and enjoying making it my own.  I have a few things I have made to go along with it (you can get them at my TpT store).  I am currently finishing up the More Wonders set for Unit 4.

I have tried using the presentation they have for you in the series and find it rather time consuming.  I have been using a quick PowerPoint/Keynote as a daily review with the kids.  I start off with our promise.  We review our high frequency words for the week by chanting all of the words.  One day we will also practice using them in sentences.  We cheer our spelling words each day.  I also try to find fun YouTube clips that go with our phonics skills.  I also have a quick slide to review grammar and the Oral Vocabulary.

When I do all of this in PowerPoint or Keynote the file becomes so large it is hard to share.  This week I made it in Prezi and thought I would share it with anyone.  This week I am on Unit 4, Week 1.  Please let me know if you use it or like it and I will continue to share it (FREE of course!)  Click here for the link to it.

Show What You Know with Puppet Pals2...
I think I have blogged earlier about how my class will use Puppet Pals2 on the iPad to make a quick movie to illustrate what they have learned.  Last week we learned all about Martin Luther King Jr..  So today the kids had to use Puppet Pals2 and select the Martin Luther King puppet and tell about him in first person.  They turned out so cute.  I will share a few as soon as I figure out the easiest way to share them.

And a Freebie!
Groundhog's Day is coming up so I thought I would share a Groundhog's Day freebie with you for Manic Monday!  It is a cute class book you can make with your class.  Click here to grab it free!

Don't forget to check out Manic Monday at Classroom Freebies for more great finds!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Shhhh... I'm Giving You the Answers!

Today I set down to give my class directions for the reading comprehension test we were taking.  The students are reading the stories and questions independently now.  I have those students who rush, don't read or just don't try. (You know you have them too!)  I thought I would try something new today.  It was part of the unit reading comprehension test I was giving and it is weighted so much in out county.

I told the the kids "I'm giving you a test (student groans...) but this time I'm giving you all of the answers too!"  Well this got their attention!  I told them "the answers to all of the questions are hidden in the story.  All they have to do is find them!" Then I asked "who can read?"  Every child raised their hand, so I said "well finding the answers should be a piece of cake!"  It worked like magic!!!!  Everyone took their time and really tried!  The scores were great.

In this day and age, every student knows TEACHERS GIVE TESTS (and lots of them!)  However, we seem to forget that teachers give them the answers too!  (Well you know what I mean!)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Happy Hump Day!

I hope everyone is having a great week!  I am lucky enough to have a 4-day week.  Although I am not sure it is really lucky... trying to cram 5 days worth of work into 4!  I will have to say the weekend comes faster!

I am spending the week teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr. using the unit I created last year, A Primary Unit All About Martin Luther King, Jr..  Today we completed the timeline of his life.  This year we used a long strip of paper I accordion folded and the students clued the events in order.  They all turned out great.  We also did my lesson comparing a white and brown egg.  This is one of the favorite lessons I teach all year long, I think this helps the kids really get it.  I always start out by just saying we are practicing comparing and contrasting using a venn diagram to compare two eggs.  I intentionally don't mention anything about MLK.  A few of the kids always have the ah-ha moment when they share with the class "Hey, that is just like white and brown people, the only thing different is the color!"  

I have also been assessing Dolch word fluency this past week.  I have found using a timed PowerPoint to flash the words helps keep the students going.  No more staring at each word for 30 seconds.  Give it a try!  Click here to download the PowerPoint I made.  It changes every 1.5 seconds.

I hope everyone enjoyed the Snowball Fight Facebook Freebie Hop!  I know I did, and snagged many fabulous finds!  I also gained many new Facebook followers, so thank you!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Computer Coding!

Guess what my first graders were doing today?  They were all learning to write computer code!!!  I'm serious, really all of them!!

OK first you may be thinking, "well OK, but I don't know how to code so how can I teach my kids to code?"
Well I don't know how to code either, I am learning with them.

Or maybe you are thinking "Why do they need how to code?"
Just think of all of the doors these skills will open.  It also teaches and improves their problems solving skills.

Or maybe you are like me and thinking "Can 1st graders really do this?"
Yes they can, even better than me!

So go by and try an hour of code and get your class started!

Check out my review by at the blog by clicking here.

Don't forget the Snowball Fight Facebook Freebie going on!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Snowball Fight!

I'm excited to tell you about a fun Facebook Freebie Hop I am joining in this weekend.  This Florida girls is having her first Snowball Fight this MLK weekend.

The fight starts at 10 a.m. (CST), so start hopping.  Several of my favorite teacher/ authors are participating.  I have a super cute "Winter Time" activity for you to grab!

Speaking of "Snowball Fights", I have to tell you how we have them Florida style!  Every year one of our Spirit Days is "Snow Day" and all of the kids come in all of their winter gear.  Coats, scarfs, hats, mittens....  Well it never fails that our Snow Day always falls on a chilly 85 degree day!  However, we still have snowball fighting fun!  

One way we have done it is with balls of paper.  Kids reuse a piece of paper or two and ball it up.  We divide up on sides and fire away!  The fight goes on a for a few minutes then we count up the snowballs on each side to determine a winner!

A sweeter way to snowball fight is with marshmallows!  However, make sure to tell the kiddos not to eat them and they are super messy if they are stepped on.  This makes for a fun family afternoon too!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

5 Fabulous Tech'ed Out Centers!

I had a great week!  One day in particular that was amazing was Wednesday.  Our school had group touring our school seeing how we use technology and innovation at school and in the classrooms.  My first grade classroom was on the tour this time!  I was so excited!  For years we have had cutting edge things going on in our school.  Many groups coming through checking it all out in the upper grades.  Many people simply write off the little guys.  I have always been a proponent for "these guys can do fantastic things too and really benefit from technology"!  I am happy people are starting to take notice.

(Last year I was lucky enough to get our counties Digital Media Teacher of the Year award and $2,000 tech dollars to spend in my classroom!  This was awesome because I got to pick exactly what I wanted and needed in my classroom to work with my class, grade level and teaching style.  In the past it has been "here is some technology, now see how you can use in your class.")

OK so back on topic... On this particular day I had my Super 6 Differentiated Centers "tech'ed out" a little more than normal.  (I normally have 2-3 of the centers with tech, but this day I had 5 with different tech tools to aid their learning and practice.)  Technology makes it so easy to differentiate for everyone.  The best part is, I think my kiddos are finally learning to self-select what they need to challenge themselves on their own.  (I know, I'm off on a tangent again.  Here is what I was my kiddos were doing that day!)

Write On!
At this center student's are publishing their writing about their holiday break.  First, students completed a graphic organizer listing 3 things they did over break, 2 presents they got and 1 person the enjoyed spending time with.  They are now preparing Keynote presentations to share with the class.

 Literacy Plugged In
This center involves technology everyday.  Today students are playing one of the Lakeshore Interactive  Games.  (This year is the first time I have tried these games and I LOVE them!  I hope they turn them into apps soon.)  Students are able to pick the game they want to play.  I have the sound turned down low so it doesn't distract too much.  The kids love it!  My only problem is that the group next to them is suppose to be reading on their own and they are easily distracted by this.  I think once the novelty is warn off, this won't really be an issue.
 Read to Yourself
Obviously the kids are reading in this center.  Once they finish a book they can choose to take a Reading Counts test on a laptop.  This student is also filling out a book recommendation form to post on our door.
 Word Work
This center isn't "tech'ed out", but is a student favorite!  Students pick a piece of popcorn (words of the week focusing on the phonics skill mixed with sight words).  They then have to read the word to keep it.  They record the word on their word sort sheet.  This week we were sorting long vowel words.
 S.T.E.M. Center
This center was QR Task Cards today.  Students use the mini-iPads to scan one of the 12 QR codes.  A colorful question pops up (today was number detective word problem riddles) they then record their answer on the recording sheet.  When they are done they take their answer sheet to my desk and scan the "Check It Code."  They use a red pen to mark the ones they have wrong and go back to try the problems again.  They love QR Task Cards.  I love them too, fun colorful centers without all of the costly printing.  (I'm working on more of these.)

Book Club
Here the students are working together with the Puppet Pals.  We are working on planning out the story elements.  Students work together to plan their setting, characters, problem and solution.  I try to limit then to about 1 minute.  Their favorite part is getting to screen their movies for their class.  (I am trying something new with Puppet Pals this week, so keep an eye out for this post coming soon!)

I know this looks like a lot of work to set up... It really isn't now.  It takes time introducing these things, but once you get it started, it is super easy.  All of the students are engaged and learning.  Sometimes I just walk around and monitor or join them at a center, or I will use this time to pull those kids for intensive intervention.

I hope you enjoyed peeking in my classroom and maybe even got an idea or two.  I would love if you would share with me how your kiddos are using tech in your classroom!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  We started back Monday, January 6th and so far so good.  I am enjoying actually teaching about weather and Winter when it is actually cold in Florida for a change.  Although you have to love Florida weather.  Today it was 29 degrees this morning and by Saturday it will be above 80!  The beach, my chair, peace and quiet with a good book is in my future!

The next two weeks are the end of the 2nd quarter for us.  In first grade and even more so in Kindergarten means individual student assessments.  Then add FAIR testing for more individual testing!  I always struggle with how to fit this in and get it done!  Sometimes I feel it would be worth it to me to use a personal day off, get a sub and come in and test....  I try to do what I can during centers, but some test require it to be more quiet.  I have tried the taking 2 classes while the other teacher tests.  This works OK but then I loose a lot of valuable teaching time.

So today I want to know how do you do it???  I look forward to seeing your comments!
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