Saturday, June 29, 2013

My First Currently...July 2013

I always wondered how to link up with the Currentlys. Now that I am putting more time and effort into this whole blogging and creating world I have finally figured it out!

#1 Listening - My hubster and I are both working in our new IKEA office. The little man has been a major grump and is fighting his sleep. But as I am working on this he is currently on his way to dream land! Thank Goodness!
#2 Loving - I feel like it has rained so much that last couple of weeks. We have been stuck inside. Not only has it been raining but there has been some major downpours and thunderstorms.  Our yard has flooded 3 times in the last week. Lucky it never causes any damage.
#3 Thinking - I really need to get rid of this extra baby weight. It has been 3 months now and I am kind of at a stand still. My goal is to eat fruits and veggies only throughout the week and have whatever I want (within reason) on the weekends. I am officially starting July 1st. I have a wedding to be in, in August! Plus, I would like to be 15 pounds lighter than my pre-baby weight by the time school begins. So I have like 25 lbs. to go! Yikes!
#4 Wanting - I have some man classroom craftivities going through my head. I don't know where to start and I can't seem to find the time. My new goal is to just work on them when I get back into my classroom.
#5 Needing - I REALLY ReAlLy really need summer to S.L.O.W. down! As much as I can't wait to get back into the classroom, I am cherishing every. single. moment with my little man. I get sad thinking that I am not going to get to spend every day with him once school begins.
#6 - Tips, Tricks, & Hints - Stay current with the latest trends, themes, and linky parties. Writing about and creating what the people want is key. Also be a part of the latest linky parties. It's one of the best ways to get new followers and get your name out there!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Throwback Thursday...Teacher Must Haves

Once again I am linking up with The First Grade Parade for another Throwback Thursday!

As summer projects are in full swing for everyone {expect me :/} I thought it would be a good time to reflect back on my top 5 teacher must haves. When I was looking back at my original post I still agree with everything on my list!
So here is the original post from July 24, 2012.

I've linked up with Life Is Sweet...In Kindergarten's Teacher Must Haves Linky Party.

1. My first must have is Mod Podge!!! I could not live without this stuff. I have gone through almost a whole bottle this summer making things. Here are some of the things that I made with Mod Podge's help. :)

These are wooden cubes I bought at Hobby Lobby. I painted them with purple acrylic paint and then Mod Podged the time numbers onto the wood. The Mod Podge worked as a glue and as a sealer! That's why it is amazing!

I had these boring old plastic drawers and I wanted to make them purdy so I bought some scrapbook paper and Mod Podged the paper to the inside of the drawers! They look so much better. :)

2. My second must have are my Mr. Sketch Markers. I absolutely love them. When I was student teaching some of the teachers bought me a pack as a good-bye gift. I could not live without them now! They are the only markers I use for making my anchor charts.

Oh, I also use them as incentives with my littles. They love that they smell. Sometimes when I'm working one-on-one with a little and they are really struggling to stay focused, I let them smell a marker after they complete a task. It works every time!!!

3.  My third must have is my teacher tool box. Even though I just made it and I really haven't gotten to use it, I know that I can't live without it. I love being organized and I have always said that I would love to be a personal organizer if teaching didn't work out. This tool box is the ultimate way to be organized.

Sorry that the picture looks a little rough.

4. This is a must have that I don't know how teachers have gotten away without using for years. The Elmo is a teacher's best friend. I love that you don't have to make transparencies and that you can just slap your paper or book underneath the camera. I also like that you can take a picture or freeze the work. Every teacher needs one of these!

5. My final teacher must have is my teacher bag. I love using Vera Bradley bags because the prints are gorgeous. I just bought this bag this summer. One of my littles got me a gift card to a boutique in my area and they have all kinds of Vera Bradley bags. I walked into the store knowing that was going to be my purchase and they had a new print that matched my color scheme this year! I was over the moon when I saw this bag!!!

Ok, so I spent allllllll day working in my classroom today! I had to force myself to leave.

My daily 5 board is finished!! Thanks to Kylie from Down Under Teacher for the Daily 5 packet. The colors and the polka dots match my classroom decor. I have the regular 5 choices that "The Sisters" wrote about in their book, but I also have a Read with Teacher choice. The charts hanging below are my rotation cards.

The calendar side isn't finished yet. So far, I have the calendar, days of the week, a hundreds chart, and a days in school counter.

This picture is what is to the right of the Calendar and Daily 5 board. I put up the alphabet line and the word wall alphabet letters.

The table is going to eventually be my listening center. You can't really see it but the CD player and headphones are to the left of the paper organizer.

The blank spaces on the wall, in the corner, is going to be where I hang all the anchor charts that we make together in class. So, it will be plain Jane until school starts.

Here is a close up of the leveled library. I used Erica Bohrer's Leveled Library and Word Wall packets to create my classroom library.

The books on the bottom shelf are in author baskets. I have Mercer Mayer, Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, and Jan Brett baskets.

I plan on going back tomorrow to finish my CAFE board because we are having a Daily 5 and CAFE book study in my room on Thursday. What is the most important thing to keep in mind when implementing Daily 5 and CAFE into your classroom? I'd like to hear what you have to say so that I can share with my colleagues.

P.S. I also plan on creating my birthday board and helpers board tomorrow. So come back to check it out!!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pirate Vs. Princess: A Fiction Book Study Unit...Plus a Buying Bonus!

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a

O.M.G! It is finally finished! My Pirate Vs. Princess Fiction Book Study Unit is done! 66 whole pages of graphic organizers, writing prompts, math activities, word work centers, and a glyph!


I have had this unit in my mind for over a year and I did something very similar during student teaching. I just couldn't wait any longer to put my resources all together for others to use.
In the past, my students have absolutely loved this unit. Who doesn't like  pirates and fancy things! I can't wait to implement this next school year now that I have a plethora of resources.
I plan on spending at least two weeks reading and writing all things pirate and princess. Included in my packet is an outline of what my two weeks may look like. Of course there are more activities, writing prompts, and graphic organizers in the unit plan than I would use, but I always like to have options. You never know what my littles will be like next year. I need to have options!

 Here are some of the resources included in the pack:

I can't wait to make this pirate glyph. Here is a snapshot of what the glyph consists of (plus there is more but it's not pictures). Once I get back into the school and get my hands on some construction paper I will create one.
This snapshot shows an example of some of the math activities that are included. There is a I Have, Who Has: Pirate Place Value and Roll & Color: Addition and Subtraction boards for princesses and pirates. These will be great to continue the pirate vs. princess theme into math centers.
 I also wanted to send home a letter informing the parents what we are learning and to remind them to wear pirate/fancy clothes for our culminating party! It will be a blast. We will dress like pirates and princesses/princes and eat fancy foods and foods that pirates might eat!
Here is a snip-it of my Search/Read/Write the Room: Pirate and Princess Style activity. You could either do this as a class or include it in your Daily 5 Word Work Station or Literacy Centers.
This is just one of the 7 graphic organizers that are included to go along with the suggested read alouds.
And last but not least, my writing prompts (I'm not sure why the lines look funky, but they don't look like this in the packet). There are 9 different writing prompts that go along with the suggested read alouds. They have the first grade common core writing standard at the top, but they could most definitely be used for 2nd and 3rd grade too.
If you just can't wait to get your hands on this unit check it out at my TpT store. It will be on sale for 48 hours! Hip - Hip - Hooray!
Plus, If you purchase my new Pirate Vs. Princess Book Study Unit, leave a comment about it here, follow my blog and TpT store, and rate it in my TpT store I will send you one other product of YOUR CHOICE for FREE. Hurry this offer only lasts until next Sunday!
So you must do all 5 things:
1. Purchase my Pirate Vs. Princess Unit
2. Leave a Blog Comment (leave me your email address too)
3. Follow my blog
4. Follow my TpT Store
4. Rate your purchase in my TpT store
I'm also going to count this post as my Monday Made It. I didn't have a chance to get crafty because I've spent so much time on the computer.
Yours in Teaching, 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Optimum Organization...Teacher Planning Binder

I can't say enough how much I like enjoy LOVE organizing. I just sent a text yesterday to my teacher friend that said "I love organizing!"

The linky party Optimum Organization was just made for me!

My organizing tip for this week is how to create and organize a teacher planning binder. You can click on the picture below to get your own copy of my planning cover pages.
Here is the cover page to my teacher planning binder. Right now it's just in a page protector until I can get a binder that has a cover page slip. It's a lot harder to run errands with a 10 week old than I ever imagined.
Tip #1 - Get a binder with a cover page slip. This allows you and other teachers to know which binder and who's binder they are looking at or found if you tend to miss place things.

Tips #2 - Have your daily lesson plans as the first section in your binder.
I look at my lesson plans multiple times in one day. I find it is easiest to have my lesson plans in the front since that is what I use my binder for the most.

Here is what my lesson plan format looks like. And yes! Those are plans for the first week of school. Can you believe I already have the first two weeks planned out!

If you're like me you always write on your last copy of what seems like everything without even knowing it then this is the best teacher organizing tip I could ever give! This picture is my lesson plan template in a page protector.
Tip #3 -  Behind all your copies put a master/original copy in a page protector. This keeps you from writing on your last copy and then you know it's time to make more copies. This organizing tip has saved me many a times!

Tip #4 - Include any curriculum mapping in your teacher planning binder. That way when you are doing your lesson plans you have a guide right at your finger tips. Keep them both in the same place and it will save you time when planning.

Here is my curriculum mapping that I am currently working on. I have about the first 6 weeks finished. I'm going to work on the rest during school.
Tip #5 - Curriculum Mapping: I have included spaces for reading, spelling/phonics, math, writing, and science/social studies. I use this map to house any mini lesson, craftivity, or theme project for one week. By no means do I use everything on that page in one week. It is just a guide to help me plan my lessons. It just gives me some ideas.

Also in my planning binder, I include a copy of the first grade common core standards. Every once in a while I like to look over them to make sure that I am covering everything that I should be covering.

One of my teaching goals for the next school year is to stay in contact with parents more. To help with this goal is my next teaching tip.
Tip # 6 - Keep copies of all whole class parent letters in your teaching binder for easy access.
This will help you greatly from year to year. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel each year. Keep original copies of all your parent information letters to refer for years to come.
Below are some of the letters I have included in my planning binder.

Next I always keep my class lists at hand. This section also has parent contact info.

This part is where I keep my more formal guided reading plans. Below you will see what I use to plan out my guided reading groups. It is super simple.

My last section is where I keep all the original copies of my writing workshop resources pack. Since they are originals they are all in page protectors as well.
Yours in Teaching,

Thursday, June 20, 2013

ThrowBack Thursday...My Most Popular Post (Daily 5: Where to Begin)

I have debated all day whether or not to link up in the Throwback Thursday Linky. I wasn't sure I should since I pretty much took 10 months off from blogging. But I figured I would and I'm going to start with my most popular post.

My most popular post is my Daily 5 and CAFE: Where to Begin. I thought now is the perfect time to reflect on this.

Here is my original post from August 2012.


Some of my colleagues and I met at school today to discuss Daily 5 and CAFE. No one at our school has implemented the management system before and several of us are going to try this coming year.

We met in my room so that everyone could see how I had set up my Daily 5 and CAFE boards. Even though I have been at the school for 2 years, this is going to be my first year as a permanent resident!!! Yay! I love that I got to share all the research and items I had found and made with everyone!

I thought since it went well at school today and I hopefully helped everyone understand it better, that I should do a post about it for other newbie Daily 5 and CAFE users.

Here it is....

First, I shared my set up of the Daily 5 board. I posted earlier that I purchased the headers from Kylie at Down Under Teacher.

Up at the top I have the choice Read to Self, Read to Someone, and Word Work. Down below I have Listen to Reading, Read with Teacher, and Work on Writing. The Read with Teacher choice is not an original choice in the Daily 5 book by the"The Sisters". However, down below you will see why I think it is important to include that choice.

This is a close up of how I'm going to have the rotation work in my classroom. I only have enough time for three rotations. Each little will have a clip with their name on it for each chain. Sorry I haven't done that yet. I will post a picture later that shows exactly what I mean.

When my littles walk into the classroom each morning, one of their morning procedures will be to make their Daily 5 choices. However, one choice will possibly be chosen for them. If I plan on meeting with a guided reading group or a strategy group, their clip will already by on the Read with Teacher. So that little will really only have two other choices to make.

I am also going to require that each little picks Read to Self once per day. So really some littles might have just one choice to make for that day.

Here is my CAFE board...

I haven't had a chance to put up the goal papers for the post-it notes yet, but they will be up. This board is behind my reading table so that it can be referred to during guided and strategy groups.

Here is a close up (Sorry for the glare.) ...

Ok, now here is the best part and what my colleagues all wanted copies of. I have spent hours and hours and hours thinking and planning, thinking again and planning again on how to begin the Daily 5 and CAFE process. I'm not going to lie, I have shed some tears trying to figure this out. At one point I felt like giving up, but I didn't and I am soooooooooo glad that I didn't!

First, using the Daily 5 and CAFE book, I planned out a possible schedule as to what it would look like in my classroom. I wanted to still use guided reading groups because it is part of the reading program in my district so I had to think of a way to use guided reading and strategy groups.

Everyday of the week I will give three mini lesson each day. But the instruction I give to my small groups will look different daily.

On Mondays and Fridays, I plan on having strategy groups and student conferences.

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday, I plan on have guided reading groups.

Some of my littles might get small group instruction more days than others because I might have a little in a guided reading group and a strategy group. Remember, strategy groups are to used to provide instruction to littles that need extra coaching on a specific goal and strategy. During a strategy group, each little will be reading their own "just right" book. Whereas, my guided reading groups every little will be reading the same book and at their "just right" or instructional level. Whew, hopefully that makes sense. :/

Click here to get a copy of my general Daily 5 and CAFE schedule.

The next item that I created and shared today was my Where to Begin Mini Lessons. For me, the hardest part was trying to figure out how I was going to start the process in my classroom. (This is where I shed the tears :(.) I have created a general plan of my first series of mini lessons. Once I get into the classroom I may find that this is not going to work. But it is a STARTING PLACE, and I love having something in front of me to look at and know that I always have a back up.

Click here for the Where to Begin Mini Lessons.

I'd like to give a shout-out to Jessica Meacham for sharing her frontloading mini lessons. They have greatly helped me develop my own plans.

I would love for you to follow me and leave me a comment if you use anything that I created. I love knowing that I have helped others!

These items are unofficial adaptations of the Daily 5 and CAFE Strategies management system by Gail Boushey & Joan Moser. This freebie is not endorsed by the 2 Sisters. Visit for official resources.
Now to reflect on this...
I made 3 major changes over the course of the year.
I successfully completed my first year of Daily my standards at least. I definitely had to change some things to meet the needs of my students and my self.
First off, the first 6 weeks of introduction were a success. My littles loved Daily 5 and even went back to their kindergarten teachers and told them all about what they were doing in first grade. It made my day!
However, over time I did change some things. Eventually I weeded out Listen to Reading. I just didn't have the resources available to make this as meaningful as it should be. I definitely recommend having more that one CD player.
I also stopped the strategy lessons after the first month. It just didn't fit into my plans and I couldn't keep up with everything. So this was a fail on my part. Next year I am just going to stick with guided reading groups.
Another change I made was to make the Daily 5 choice for my students. They didn't mind a bit and actually like the excitement or wondering what choice they get to go to next. Next year I am going to start off the year with making the choices for my students.
I'm still by no means perfect at implementing the Daily 5 but I do what is best for myself and my littles, and I think that is what makes a great teacher. FLEXIBILITY and flexible I am!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Teacher Always Says...

I love summer and I love linky parties! I'm having a hard time coming up with things to blog about so I'm going to join in with the linky craze all summer long. That is until August, when I get to start setting up my room and really get going for the upcoming school year. I have decided that I'm going to enjoy as much time with my little man as possible. Time is going way too fast.

I love this linky party idea! I say so many crazy things I say. Sometimes I worry because I don't know if my littles go home and repeat some of the things I say. :/

This first one I say Every. Single. Time. we go into the hallway. I think I need to retire this one. I'm getting bored with it. I'm thinking of trying a new hallway behavior management tool next year. But I'll save that for another time. Hint. Hint. It might just be my Monday Made It for next week! ;)

I like how... is something I say when the class is getting a little restless. I use it to point out a positive behavior. Once I do that the rest of my littles try and mimic that behavior. It's just something plain and simple, but I like it. It's kind of old school.

"Jiminy Crickets" is something I say when I'm getting a little frustrated. I used this one a lot last year. With being pregnant and a VERY difficult class I needed something to keep me calm. I always said it in a silly voice, but when I used it my littles would just smile and change their behavior because they knew I wasn't happy.

"Oh bejesus (spelling?)" is a what I say when a little one shocks me with one of their crazy stories and I just don't know how to respond. Which happened quite often last year. For example,  Little - "Mrs. Eddleblute, look I can dance like a dead spider." Me - "Oh, bejesus!" (This really happened, with movements and my little laying on the floor wiggling.)

I used this saying A LOT to get my littles attention. I mainly use it during Daily 5 to get their attention when I need to say something, but I also used it to stop partner work and independent work. It works great because my littles repeat back by saying "one, two, eyes on you!"

I always call my littles smart cookies. Especially when they shock me with something that I am surprised that they even know. This always puts a smile on their face!

I don't know how many times I say this along with "stretch it out". I very rarely will help my littles spell words. I am all about inventive spelling and using resources in the classroom to help you spell. By the end of the school year, my littles know not to ask because I will not tell them. They will either get "use the word wall" or "stretch it out".

This saying I say when a little asks me a silly question. I say it in a squeaky, silly voice. Once I say it they realize that they already know the answer.
There are many other quirky things I say. Just the other day I called me little man a "pumpkin noodle". How I came up with that I have no idea. My husband is starting to say silly things too, but most of the time he just laughs and calls me crazy! But oh well, it is me and I like being me!
Yours in Teaching,