Sunday, October 30, 2011

What's Happening in Our Classroom

Well, it has been a long time since I posted anything.  It has been a busy Fall getting settled into a new school, learning new procedures, and getting to know the students, as well as, learning first grade.  I haven't taken any pictures lately, so I'll just update what's been happening.

We have been learning about fire safety.  I have read lots of books to the kiddos and we have made some charts.  We made a chart with a fire hydrant on the background and put post-it notes on it with what the students know about fire safety.  I saw this on another blog.  I think it was on First Grade Garden.  This was a great activity.  The kiddos were full of knowledge about fire safety.  I introduced the word schema to them and talked about how they are adding to their schema everyday.  They have loved learning about this and hearing about my brother, the fire chief.  On Thursday, after our lesson, the kids looked out the window and the fire department was at the school.  How exciting!  We later found out that the lady who works in the cafeteria had chest pains, so they came to help her and take her to the hospital.  We also made our first tree map about firemen.  This was a great tool to use as they were learning.  I'm sure we will use more of them.

Since Halloween is coming and we don't do much with Halloween, I decided I could read a book or two.  Friday I read Where's My Mummy to the kids.  They sure enjoyed this.  We made a chart about Baby Mummy at the beginning of the story. Tomorrow we will add the end of the story.  This was something I found from Deanna Jump's lesson.  We will continue other activities on Monday.

You can tell I've been getting so many ideas from other teachers.  I'm reading the blogs as much as possible.  It is helpful to me since I'm new to first grade after teaching upper grades for the past 10 years.  I still feel I prefer to teach third and fourth grades, but I am adjusting.  I do admire all of you that love first grade.  I don't know how you do it.  I prefer to teach kids that have some background, know how to read some, and have some school behavior skills.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll change.

We are entering grading time.  Grades are due on Friday.  I will be spending today and the rest of the week working hard on them.  Unfortunately, I have been sick this weekend with a terrible sore throat.  I'm sure I'll be home for at least two days.  I don't want to infect any of the kids plus with the throat hurting I won't be able to use a loud voice over my 31 kiddos.  I'll be at home working on the grades.

We are still working on procedures and how to work quietly and walk in the hall quietly.  It sure is hard with 31 kiddos in the classroom.  They are sweet kids, but there are just a lot of them.  Budget cuts have made it so that class sizes are so large.

I will be missing Halloween at school.  We don't celebrate Halloween, but the school is having Crazy Hair and Hat Day.  I will be sitting and making plans for the substitute for tomorrow.  Hopefully, the kids won't be too excited and hard to keep focused.

We are participating in the Postcard Exchange.  It has been fun to receive the cards and find where they are on the United States map.  We've received 6 so far.

I will try to get pictures of what we do for my next post.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Good News and Pete the Cat

     I have good news!  I received my teaching license renewal this week and I did get the ESOL endorsement.  This was the reason I was told that I was transferred.  I won't be transferred again for this reason.  My district wants everyone to have this.  I took the classes several years ago, but didn't take the test.  They don't require the test, now, if you took it when I did.  I am so happy!

     Well, I made made it through 3-1/2 weeks of teaching first grade.  It has been so different from any grade that I have taught.  I feel like I am learning as I go.  I have a nice group of 30 kiddos, who love to talk.  I'm just not used to kids who talk while I talk.  I guess we have lots to work on.

     I saw lots of things on the blogs about Pete the Cat, so I decided that would be a good way to start.  I bought the first book and the stuffed animal, as well as, the many Pete the Cat units I found on TpT beginning with Deanna Jump's unit.  I appreciate everything that teachers have made.  It helps teachers like me who are new to first grade and need ideas without having to spend too much.  I like all of the free items.  I did have to buy the second book about a week ago.  We will continue reading that one.

     We made the Pete the Cat craft in Deanna Jump's unit.  They turned out very nice but were a lot of work with 30 kiddos.  It's hard when they don't follow or pay attention to the directions.  With 30 kiddos, it is hard to keep them focused.  It does help so much, though, that I have a document camera and they can see exactly what to do.  Here are some pictures of our Pete the Cats.

The kids worked on a writing that will go below their pictures.  We had these up for Open House and the parents were impressed.  I'm going to have a V.I.P. in our class and use Erica Bohrer's Class Mascot forms.  Pete the Cat will go home.  I will demonstrate this week how to do this and then the kids will begin.  With 30 kids, we might have to have two V.I.P.'s on some weeks.  I may need to purchase one more cat.

     I don't have much option for making my own centers for Math.  We use Bridges for Math and there are six Work Places that the students do.  I may throw in another one when possible.  It has been overwhelming learning all of this.  This weekend I'm hoping to find some containers for the centers.  I had to wait until payday.  September is a hard month to buy things after I bought supplies during the summer.  Managing the centers is what I want to work on now.

     Our first math unit is all about bugs.  I will be incorporating Deanna Jump's insect unit, as well as, the one that Made For First Grade has.  I love how I can incorporate literacy along with the math throughout the day on insects.  We also use GLAD in our district.  There is an insect unit, so I will be investigating that and trying to get it ready.  Those units take a lot of time to prepare, but they are so good in teaching ELL kids.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The School Year Has Begun

     The past three weeks have been very stressful.  I worked for 2-1/2 weeks to move into a new building and organize my classroom.  The last few days I was working until 8:00 p.m.  The day before school began I was there until 10:00 p.m.  I was very frustrated!  It is so hard to change grades.  I have so much in teaching materials for third and fourth grades that I feel I should save in case I teach those grades again.  I still have boxes to go through, but they are leaning against walls and kind of out of the way for now.  I'll post pictures when it all looks nice.
     I made it through the first week of teaching first graders.  Luckily, there were only three teaching days.  This is harder than I even imagined!  There are 30 students in the classroom.  They want to talk all of the time.  I'm not used to kids who talk while I talk to the class.  I see they need a lot of work on their behaviors.  This will sure take a lot of time.  They are cute kids and very sweet.  It is so hard, too, when they don't know how to read much.  They seem to be afraid to write.  They tell me that they can't write, but the kindergarten teacher said they did a lot of writing last year.  We'll have to work on building that confidence in writing.

     I'm so glad that it is the weekend.  I really needed a break.  Next week will be even harder since I'll have to teach five days.  I'll make it!  I read the blogs of all of these first grade teachers who love first grade.  I hope I will be there someday.  Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to teach them and get them to follow the rules.  

     It's Saturday, but I've been working on typing things on my computer that I need for school.  I just wasn't able to get all of it ready before school began.  I'm hoping I can have things ready this week.  My H.O.R.S.E. Book is almost ready.  Tonight I worked on my lesson plan form and trying to figure out my schedule.  That is hard work!  It's hard to figure out a schedule for a grade I'm not sure how to teach.

     Tomorrow I'll work a little at school.  I need to get papers ready for this week and go through some boxes to organize a little.  I will feel better when things look better.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 2 - Moving In

     Today was the second day to work in my new classroom at my new school.  I walked in the door and was still overwhelmed.  There were boxes everywhere!  I finally decided to start moving some boxes and clear a table.  That helped.

     I had a friend coming to help and she brought a friend of hers to help.  They were a wonderful help to have.  It took us awhile to figure out what to do, but we finally decided to move all of the boxes to one corner of the room so that we could figure out where the furniture would go.  The room looks so much better now.  We figured out where most of the furniture would go.  Thank you Christie and Christie for all of your help!

     Now, the fun begins of unpacking and figuring out where things should go.  Hopefully, I'll get to the point that I can work on the bulletin boards.  I have ideas of things I've seen on other teachers' blogs or things I have bought on TpT, but I wonder if I'll have time to make these things.  Some things may come after school begins.

     Here are some pictures from today.  Look at yesterday's post to see the difference.

I'm not as far as a lot of you out there in the Blog World because actually teachers don't report to work until next Tuesday.  I am here a week early since I have a huge job ahead of me.  The kids begin school on Wednesday, September 7th.

I did find out that I have a document camera, but I don't have a Smartboard, as I was told.  I am excited about the document camera since I've never had anything but an overhead.  My friends set it up for me.

    I know everyone is putting up pictures of their classrooms today.  This is what mine looks like so far, but it's nothing to brag about.

     I will keep posting each day so that you can see my progress, although, I only have 3 followers so far.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Moving In

     I've spent the past two days moving into my new classroom in my new school.  I am so thankful for all of the help I received from teacher friends from my old school and their families.  It's amazing how many boxes I have!  At the end of the year, some things were packed that I probably would have thrown out, but because they were doing construction in my old school I had to get out quickly.  Hopefully, I'll have time to go through things.

     There are boxes everywhere!  I had some time today to work on the room alone.  I was so overwhelmed and didn't know what to do.  First, I need to figure out where to put the furniture, but everything is covered with boxes.  I started moving some of the boxes to create space.  Hopefully, I'll be able to figure out where the student tables will go, my desk, and the classroom book corner.

     Tomorrow, a friend who is also a teacher, is coming to help me and she's bringing a friend of hers. They are going to help me arrange my room.  I'm looking forward to their help.  They helped me two years ago when I moved from a portable to a classroom in the building.  It will be good to have some help.  Another teacher friend has offered to help on Friday.  I need all the help I can get.  My official first day of work is next Tuesday.  I'm hoping getting an extra week will help me to be ready on time.

     Here are some pictures I took after everything was moved in.  It shows how much work I have ahead of me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Finally . . . The Inside of the School

On Friday, I called my new school to see if I can see the inside of my classroom.  The lady that I talked to was very friendly and told me to come over.  I went and just looked around.  It gave me an idea of what I was moving in to.

The classroom is an odd shape.  It is in a Pod - seven classrooms are around a circle.  The classroom has some short walls.  It's hard to describe the shape.  There aren't many bulletin boards.  One large one and two small ones on both sides of the white board.  I hope I can do everything I want on those boards.  I may be using the walls.  There are two bathrooms in the room.  A friend showed me that these are shared with the room next door.  I wonder how that works out?  The teacher's desk is large with room for a computer.  There are different things for the students to sit at:  rectangle tables, two tables that make a hexagon when put together, and a few desks.  Hmm.  That will be interesting to figure out.

I went back today with a friend.  We loaded our cars up with things to drop off.  It seemed like a lot of things, but there are so many more sitting in a friend's garage.  I'm so glad that over the years I have bought my own bookshelves.  There was only one bookshelf in the room.  I think I have 4 bookshelves with 3 shelves and two with 2 shelves.  I probably will use the smaller ones for my things.  This will help me to create my library.  I have so much to do at home right now that I won't be able to do anymore this week.  I'm hoping to move everything else in next week.  Then I will begin to really work and put the room together.

I feel better now that I have seen the room and moved over a few of my things.  I didn't take any pictures, but I will eventually.  It's more work moving into a new classroom, coming up with a good design or layout. I will get some friends to help me come up with ideas on how to arrange things.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lesson Plans

I've been reading several teacher's sample lesson plans.  I feel it will be so different to write up plans for first grade.  I need to get started on a template for 1st grade.  I've been working on one today.  I should be doing other things, but I just want a form.  I know it will need to be changed once I know when PE, Music, and Media are being taught.  Oh well!  This might work and take less time once school begins.  I always find those days of getting the classroom ready don't allow for much time in writing up the lesson plans.

It takes more space to write up first grade plans.  I still need 4 pages, but I can't fit the standards on them.  I'll have an extra page for the standards.  I actually think I might like that.  I'm trying to fit in Morning Work, Morning Meeting, Writer's Workshop, Reader's Workshop, Read to Self, Theme / GLAD, Math, Author Study, and some extra routines.  I think I have it.  It's so hard to fit everything in.  The Word Work, I believe, will be something the students work on during Reader's or Writer's Workshop.  I'm not quite sure yet.  I will teach and review the words orally with the kids during the Morning Meeting.  This is something I need to read more about.

I want to incorporate Author's Study.  Last year my 3rd graders loved learning about authors.  What better way to help the kids become better readers and writers!  I need to pursue and find which author's would be good to study.

I think I'll also have a Daily Lesson Plan to write out specifics for what to do.  This will sure help me since I know little about teaching first grade.  I think it will also be useful when I have a substitute.

I'd attach a blank copy, but that's something I still need to learn how to do on here.  I need to get back to another computer class this week and ask questions like that.  Once I think I have a good form, I'll attach it here when I know how. 


Thursday, August 4, 2011

More Changes

This next school year I will be going through all kinds of changes.  On June 1st, I found out that I am being transferred to another building due to the budget cuts.  Later in the month I was told that I would teach first grade.  I panicked!  I know very little about teaching first graders.  I have taught for 16 years plus I began with several years as a substitute until I could get a teaching job since budgets were tight at that time.  I started in second grade and spent about 7 years in that grade.  One of those years was in a 1st/2nd grade blend.  Then, I began teaching older kids.  I have spent the last 9 years with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders and really enjoy those ages.  This will be a year full of learning as I learn how to teach 1st graders.  I am so thankful for all of the blogs out there where I can get ideas and see what others are doing.  I also have been buying many things on TpT to help.  I just discovered the blogs and TpT about 3 months ago.

Today I had an recorded phone call from my new principal.  Today, I know, was his first day back to work.  He is transferring to a middle school in the district.  So, right now my school doesn't have a principal.  One more change to deal with.  The district did cut all of the elementary vice-principals.  Maybe they would hire one of them back, however, I know that two already have another job.  One more change to deal with.  At least everyone at the school will be going through this one, not just me.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Computer Lessons

My computer skills, I know, are limited.  I see all of the things everyone creates on their blogs or from TpT and I want to do the same type of things.  I started buying some clip art, but I still didn't know what to do.

When I bought my MacBook in February, I also purchased a year worth of One on One classes.  I haven't been to any because it was so busy in the spring and I have been stuck without a car, other than the rental, since school was out.  Finally, I decided to take a class.

On Thursday I went to one of the One on One sessions called Personal Projects.  You go to the Apple Store and one employee helps the people in the class with whatever they want.  I didn't really know where this store was because it was in a shopping center that I've never been to.  I found the store pretty quickly.

The class was so worth going to.  I showed the employee what some of you bloggers have done and said, "Is there any way I can do that sort of thing?"  He told me that there is.  I usually use Word, but he suggested that I get Apple's form of Word called Pages.  That's what he knows and likes, so I purchased it.  He showed me a variety of things that were so beneficial.  I finally got out a piece of paper to write some notes realizing I would forget when I got home.  He would bounce back and forth between each person.  There were only two of us there, so I got lots of attention.

I think I'm going to sign up for one a week until school begins.  After that, it will be a little harder to go to because these classes are usually during the day.  Maybe they'll have some on Saturdays.  They have other specific classes that I may take if the time is right.

I just worked on my schedule cards.  Last night I found the perfect background. I wanted polka-dots, but I wanted them colored.  After looking at Cheryl Saod's Celebrating Yummy Birthdays, I noticed there were lots of polka-dots.  It's so perfect!  If I knew how to attach a page here, I would do it so that you can all see it.  I tried, but it didn't work.  I think it's because I don't know how to reduce the size of the document for the blog.  That will be a question to ask next class. I'll go take a photo of a printed page, so that I can show everyone what I made.  

  I'm looking forward to printing and cutting all of my schedule cards.  They will look so nice in my new classroom at my new school.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Data Notebook Giveway from Primary Graffiti

Cheryl at Primary Graffiti is giving away an awesome looking Data Notebook.  She will give two away before the sale on Monday.   Here are the details:

Win it before you can buy it!  I'm prepared to upload my Data Notebook to TpT.  I want to giveaway two copies before the sale on Monday.  

I will randomly select two people to win a copy of my Data Notebook tomorrow evening.  An entry can be made by following my TpT store.  If you decide to post about my Data Notebook, I will give you an additional entry.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

Tonight I will upload a few free documents to share.  With all the excitement today, I'm going to have to post a third time!  My apologies in advance!!  Until then...  Stay Cool!

I'd like to win this, wouldn't you?  I think it would be so helpful since next year is my first year in first grade.  Cheryl is the one who helped me start this blog.  Isn't she wonderful?


Sunday, July 24, 2011

School Shopping

I've been hanging out at my dad's house for the past 3 weeks. At the end of the school year on June 1st, I was rear-ended. This was the same day that I was told by my principal that I was being transferred to another school. I went home after school and planned on returning since I was having a substitute the next day. I needed to get my lessons all ready. It happened on my way back and I never made it to school. It was a good thing that I had the day off, but I spent all day trying to get a rental car. Finally, on July 17th I received the insurance money for my car. It was totalled and I had to replace my car. On Wednesday I bought a used car, a 1999 Toyota Avalon. It seems like it will be a nice car.

I've been doing a lot of school shopping while I've been in Portland. I emptied the rental car and filled the trunk of the new car. I have found lots of good buys over the summer or just things I need like a binder and composition books for each student.

I should be going home in a couple of days. First, we celebrated Dad's birthday last night and I am hosting an (acrylic) stamping party at Dad's house. One of my ways I like to be crafty. I never would have thought that this process after a car accident would have taken so long. I'm glad that I've ended up with a nice car.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Giveaway at First Grade Awesomenesss

Have you seen the giveaway going on from Mrs. Tabb at First Grade Awesomeness? Everyone qualifies who blogs about it. Here's what she says:

I've turned our love of shoes into a fun mini unit that would be great for the first few weeks of school (because most of their shoes are NEW therefore NOT STINKY!) and the best part is that you don't need anything for this unit but shoes!

Check it out!!

There's sorting, classifying, graphing, a SHOE CLUE mystery, and lots of fun activities about shoes!

Because I want to get lucky in Vegas, I'm going to give you some luck too...
I'm going to do this. It'll be free to anyone who blogs about this mini-unit. I don't have enough energy for another if you want it, post it on your blog and tell your friends to snag the limited time freebie, and leave me a comment telling me you've blogged it WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS so I can send it to you...for FREE!

This is limited though. I'm going to Vegas and I'll be back Monday. SO you have until Sunday (7/24) to do this giveaway homework. I will send out the units on Monday night!

You have until Sunday night, July 24th, so hurry and blog about it!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Teacher in Flip Flops Giveaway

Have you seen what Christie at Teaching in Flip Flops is giving away for having 50 followers?These giveaways are new to me, but they look like alot of fun. Here's what she says:

I'm giving away one of these Scentsy Teacher Warmers plus a bar of your favorite scent!!
(Note: If you don't know what Scentsy is, click on the picture and check it out!! They are fabulous scent warmers that plug into the wall and use a lightbulb to scent the room. So safe and AMAZING. I refuse to buy any other scent/smelly things now. I'm addicted!!)

Here's how to win...
1. Follow my blog and leave a comment!
2. Add my blog to your blog roll and leave a comment (with your link)!
3. Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment (with your link)!
4. Add my button to your blog and leave a comment (with your link)!

The giveaway ends Monday, July 18 at 10 p.m. CST.
I will then announce the winner sometime Tuesday!

These Scentsy warmers are wonderful. The candle wax is such a great smell in the house. I don't have this one, but I do have a few and just love them! The giveaway goes until tomorrow evening, so good luck to everyone!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dollar Tree Finds

I finally found what I've been looking for! I've been looking for those polka-dot trays that Amanda at One Extra Degree posted recently. I went to 3 Dollar Tree stores and couldn't find any, so I gave up. Then I told a friend who is also a teacher and she found some. I drove over to that store and bought all that they had and went to another store and found more. I have enough for the whole class now. I like Amanda's idea of using them for math stations. I like things with polka-dots. I have some white baskets from Pottery Barn Kids in my classroom with liners that have polka-dots or gingham checks. These will look great in my classroom.

I also found some certificates for birthdays and student of the week. These will be fun to give out to the students. I'd add a picture, but I'm having trouble adding a second picture. It seems to go to the top and moves the word "I" to the top. I know I have a lot to learn about blogging. I have a lot to learn about technology in general.

I hope you other teachers in the blogging world will be patient with me as I learn this new way of communicating. I hope later I'll be able to share some of the things going on in my classroom and even some things you can download. Right now I am in the learning process. I learned about 2 or 3 months ago that teachers have blogs. I have learned so much from everyone.

I found out at the end of the school year that I am being transferred to another school in the district due to budget cuts. I was a third grade teacher for two years, but I am transferring to first grade. I was sent into a panic when I found out the grade. I have only taught first grade once 11 years ago, but that was in a blend of 1st and 2nd graders. I have had my own classroom for 16 years plus I began my career as a substitute for several years. Reading all of your blogs has helped me to learn about first grade. I'm hopeful that I will be ready for those little kiddos.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shopping Finds

Just like everyone else, I have been shopping for school supplies. I enjoy shopping for school supplies for the new school year.

Last week I ventured to Lakeshore with my friend, who is also a teacher. Since I'm changing from 3rd grade to 1st grade, I am in need of some new materials. I also had a gift card from my recent birthday that I was so ready to spend especially since their sale just began.

I found this Fractions and Decimals Chart on their sale rack. The price was good and it will be good to help students learn and understand the order of fractions. That was hard for my third graders to understand last year.

Another item that I found was a Science True or False Center. This would be a great activity to use even with first graders. There is a question such as Volcanoes make the Hawaiian Islands. This will lead to a short discussion. It comes with True and False cards so the kids can indicate their vote.

This is only my second post and I'm not sure exactly how to insert pictures. I'll do a little figuring out before I write more since the pictures aren't appearing where I want them.

On the next post I'll tell about some of my finds at Dollar Tree Store and Target.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Blogging Debut

I discovered TpT and that teachers have blogs about 3 months ago. It has been quite an experience reading and learning from other teachers. I guess now it is time I venture into the blog world. I started this blog because I wanted to be involved in the Postcard Exchange. I also think it will be great fun to write about my teaching adventures and be involved with the blog teaching community.

I have been a teacher for many years. I have spent the last two years teaching third grade. Before that I taught fourth and fifth grades. It has been a long time since I've taught the primary grades. I did teach second grade for several years, but that was at least 9 years ago. Because of budget cuts, this year I will be transferred to a different school and will teach first grade. I panicked when I found out! Reading all of the blogs has helped me to learn what happens in first grade.

This blog will be a great place for me to document my adventures as a first grade teacher. I am leaving a school with very little technology and going to a school with lots of technology. I bought a Mac Book in February, so why not add blogging to my list of new technologies.

I want to say "thank you" to Cheryl at Primary Graffiti who organized and started this blog for me.