Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Next Year Planning...(!)

I will admit, it was weird writing "Next Year" as the title of this post. 
Firstly because I have way too much to focus on that is happening before August (end of the year, wedding, etc., etc., etc.!!). 

And secondly, because this year cannot possibly be coming to an end. But the official countdown (not like I'm counting) is 18 days of school left. That's it. The big 1-8. Yikes!

As the year is beginning to come to close, I have really started thinking about what I want to do differently next year. A lot of what I did this year was what I saw my cooperating teacher doing in student teaching, heard from other teachers, or kind of made up as I went along. Now that I almost have one solid year under my belt, I know some of the things I want to do differently next year. Here's a rough beginning list:

1. Toughen Up A Lot Earlier.
At the beginning of the year, I definitely had New Teacher Syndrome. I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants. It was a miracle just to make it through the day. And my class saw that. They knew that I was a hot mess and knew that they could get away with behavior like talking while I was talking, not doing their jobs, playing in the bathroom and at the bubbler and all of those annoying things kids do since I had few consequences in place. Next year, hopefully I won't be so crazy and I'll have a better handle on things and be able to strict right from the get go. I'm not saying that my management was bad at the beginning of the year because no one told me that it was. However, I can see a huge difference in how my kids act now to how they used to behave at the beginning of the year. 

I'm going to start off strong with laying out my expectations and if they aren't met, there will be consequences. Period.

2. Spelling and Homework. Similarly, I didn't have any consequences/rewards for students with homework and spelling. I tried to tell myself that it's not the kid's fault that homework isn't done, but as time went on and more and more kids weren't doing homework, it got annoying. Now I have a policy where if it isn't turned in, it's lunch detention. And this week, only one student didn't bring in homework. Score!

And for spelling, a lot of my kids didn't care about doing well on spelling tests. There was no incentive. So I started the 100% Club a few months ago. If students get a 100% on the spelling test, their names get added to our Spelling 100s Club Poster in our room. Every so often (aka once), we have a 100s Club Party. I'll have to have one very soon though since I had like 15 kids get a 100% on our last spelling test. I was quite pleased about that!

So for next year - start those off right away!

3. Parent Contact. Before school started, I had huge hopes of being able to call every parent on a regular basis, just to check in and let them know that their kid was doing awesome, struggling, whatever. However, with being a hot mess, that didn't really leave much time to call parents. So next year, I want to call parents, especially right away to establish good repertoire as well as hound them about homework and other fun stuff like that.

4. No Sugar Coating.
No, I am not not going on a no sugar diet. I mean that I need to be open and honest with parents about their kiddos.

I have been talking a lot to a kinder teacher at my school who is AMAZING. Seriously, I want to be her. She always has really great parent involvement and her kids leave kinder really high. One thing she does is that she does not sugar coat anything to parents and she's not afraid to tell it like it is. If a student is struggling with reading, she simply states that to the parents and says that they need to work together to help the student grow and do the best he/she can. At the beginning of the year, I was worried about hurting parents and upsetting them, which looking back, doesn't make sense since I feel like I may have given them a false sense of how well their child was doing. So next year, I'm going to try my best to not sugar coat anything since that doesn't help anyone.

5. Be More Involved. At the beginning of the year, I could barely make it through the day, let alone think of taking on any extra responsibilities. So next year, I want to be a part of something at school. My principal just emailed out a few opportunities and I am thinking about applying to be Student Council Advisor. Just something so I am a bigger part of the school and not in my own little classroom. 

6. Calendar. I love calendar, but I don't have a good place to put it where it can be seen well and gathered around. Here is its current location:

Yep. Jammed in a teeny wall space where literally no one can gather around. Kind of obscured by books and tables. Anddddd it still says March. May is tomorrow. You can tell calendar is one of my top priorities...not. But calendar is incredibly important and I am determined to do it justice next year. Janaye over at Frogs and Cupcakes has some really great ideas for calendar math that I plan on using next year. Click the link to check out all of her ideas! 

Come back in a few days for some how-to writing and my first giveaway! I'm a bit late in the game but I've reached 100 followers! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Unexpected Day Off and My First Freebie!

No, it's not a snow day. At least, not here in Phoenix.
Long story short, I was battling a terrible headache for forever (aka for the past five days) and it was particularly bad on the weekend. Like stand-up-and-you-feel-like-fainting-because-you-are-dizzy. Not fun at all.
This morning I did feel better, but I decided to take a sick day in hopes to shake it completely because I have to be at school tomorrow and Wednesday. 

Tomorrow is our final day to get our book ready for the Student Publishing program. If you have never heard of it, it's a wonderful, FREE program that lets kids write and publish their own stories. For K-2 students, a classbook is made; for 3-5 students, each student gets their own book. Did I mention it's free?? My kids are really excited about having their book becoming a published book for all to read.
And we still have lots to do... partially because I put it off for awhile because it was a daunting task to get started. Especially being a first year teacher.
(Mental note: Next year, start it earlier!!)
Some kids have to finish illustrating, we have to finish the cover page, dedication page, and title page. And I have to assemble it all. And put all the kids' pictures on the pages. And take pictures of my newest friends. And print them. Yikes!

On Wednesday, we are going on a field trip to Cici's Pizza. The kiddos will get a tour of the restaurant, and then they get to make their own pizzas to eat for lunch. Teachers get to as well. Not that I'm excited or anything...I love pizza. And I have never been to Cici's. 
But I have seen lots of commercials on TV for them. And it always sounds quite delicious.

Anyways, guess what?! I have created my very first freebie for you all! Last week, my students worked on adding another addition strategy to their math toolbelt - friendly numbers. So I made this little pack up (pretty quickly too for my first time making one) and I am going to share it with you all. Please let me know what you think since it is my very first one! 
Pretty please and thank you!

Click on the picture to grab it!!

Here's hoping this headache goes away soon! Hope everyone had a great Monday! I only have 24 days of school left! How about you?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bad Case of the Mondays

Bad case of the Mondays today. Yikes, it was not a happy day. So. Much. Chatter. It was endless. I need to get some Pete the Cat mantra in my brain- It's all gooood. But since that's not on the agenda, in order to prevent a grumpy rant, I'm linking up with Latoya at Flying in First Grade. Because who doesn't love a linky party?!

TOPIC - Skittles Game

Here is the code:
Red- Favorite Ice Cream Flavor
Orange- Favorite Memory from College
Yellow- Favorite Sports Team
Green- Favorite Fast Food Place
Purple- Wild Card(Tell anything about yourself)

Red: My favorite ice cream flavor tends to vary quite frequently. But I am a Ben and Jerry's snob so any of their flavors are awesome! Especially Milk and Cookies and Cherry Garcia. So yum!

Orange: I loved getting to know such wonderful people in college. My School of Ed cohort was very close, I had awesome roommates and friends, great girls in Bible Study. I didn't think I would miss it as much as I do...

Yellow: A bit tough since I don't really follow sports teams all that much. In fact, I usually want the underdogs to win and/or the team that everyone else is rooting against. Plus I will always love the Badgers!!

Green: I love Culvers! It originated in Wisconsin (go figure) and it is the best. It's slower than McDonalds but quicker than a sit down place. The butterburgers are soooo good. The bread is buttered and grilled with the hamburger part is so delicious! They also have really good chicken tenders. And the ice cream...omg. It's really think custard that they make right there. And there is a new flavor every day. Now I want Culver's. 

Purple: Wildcard. Hmmm...what do I want to tell? I have 29 days of school left and 82 days until I tie the knot. This year certainly has flown by!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Passing the Torch

Hello all!

Thanks to Michelle at The 3AM Teacher, I, along with 80 other wonderful educators, were able to participate in The Reading Olympics. The Reading Olympics is a program that focuses on teaching kids about word roots. 

Now my school is very strict on what we teach. Like all first grades have to teach the exact same thing the exact same way. And my kids aren't allowed  to do anything fun cut or paste or color. So I had to totally modify the curriculum to fit that mold aka really shorten it and only do one word suffix. But I was able to sneak in the lesson during phonics and although it was short, some of my kids were able to catch to on.

So here it is!!

Now, even though I had to really modify the program, I really liked how the program was set up. It included adorable puzzle pieces that the students could cut and glue together to make new words, demo cards, chants to help the students remember the roots, and a cute little book so students could write everything down and then have a snazzy reference book. Basically, it had everything you need.

Like I said, I only had about 15 minutes so I really had to squish. So no book, chants, or demo cards for me =/

Instead, I introduced the -ed ending bu jumping around the room. I asked my students what I was doing and they of course said being crazy jumping. Then I stopped. I asked them what I had just done. They said jumped. I wondered aloud how I would spell it.

I got the typical answer of jumpt and jumped. We talked about how even though it sounds like a t, it's really an ed and that ed means that it already happened. We then walked, skipped, jumped, and talked around the room, adding -ed to everything. 

Then I had made a "my school friendly" sheet for them to complete. They added -ed to words, read them to themselves and to a friend and then wrote two sentences using the -ed ending.

It was this kiddo's birthday, hence the beautiful birthday crown!

Writing sentences - "I climbed the monkey bars."

Overall, I wish I had been able to do the program how it is meant to be. Although some of my kids benefited from it, learning more Greek roots would have been great for them. A lot of them are ELLs so learning "tricks" about the English language would have probably really helped them get a better grasp of English. Oh well though - if your school is like mine, it is possible to tweak the program to make it fit your precise needs!!

But you can discover the program IN FULL ACTION in more K-6th grade classrooms as you Pass the Torch!! Get ideas, discover the progression of the program, and enter the Raffle for a chance to win ONE of the three prizes listed below!!

First Place Winner : Gold Medal
Complete Reading Olympians Program
$50.00 Amazon Gift Card
50% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Second Place Winner: Silver Medal

$25.00 Amazon Gift Card
40% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Third Place Winner: Bronze Medal
30% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Pass the Torch!!!
Click the image below to visit the next blog - Practice Makes Perfect 

Monday, April 1, 2013


It's that time again! The beginning of a new month. A new Currently.

So go link up with Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade!

Listening: HGTV. Specifically Property Virgins. Gets me pumped for when it's my turn to buy a house.

Loving: That I have Friday off!! Kind of a random day off. Other teachers at my school are convinced district made a mistake on the calendar and given us off Good Friday instead. Oh well. A day off is a day off :)

Thinking: Whenever I get home from school, I am always starving!! I haven't had a snack yet so I need to get something and fast!

Wanting: A massage. But who doesn't?

Needing: A manicure. My nails are gross and I've been meaning to paint them but it's so time consuming. And it always chips shortly after =/

Advice: Probably one of the most important things I have learned this year. Be true to you. No matter what. 

Happy April!