January 31, 2016

A Teacher's Dream: SDE I Teach 1st

5 years ago, I was getting my first job and classroom.
5 years ago I had absolutely no idea where to start!
5 years ago I started reading teacher blogs in search of tips, advice, and help on getting started.

For 5 years now, I have learned more than I ever did in college about being the teacher I need to be for my kids. Not from a textbook, not from research, but from experienced teachers who generously share their ideas/ups/downs/struggles and successes.

To say that I was EXCITED to go to the SDE I Teach 1st conference to meet some of these fabulous inspirations is an understatement!

I was beyond overjoyed to get to experience this with 3 of my fabulous team mates!
We headed to the ATX on Sunday for a little bit of girl time and bonding before hand.

We were up and at it early the next morning. We figured the lobby would be packed with teachers registering but, much to our surprise we were definitely overachievers and the first ones there...an hour early! That means...1st row baby!

Our first day, we heard from Reagan Tunstall from Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits.
Her ideas and passion for math have totally transformed my math block.
So glad I finally took the plunge this year, thanks Reagan!
I've gone from teaching math from a textbook to teaching math similar to reading.
Here's an old post about how I took her advice to change the way I teach math.
It was amazing to hear her talk about it in person!

I spent the night talking to a sweet new friend, Marcy from Saddle Up for 2nd Grade.
Social media is a great way to connect with teachers who are just as passionate as you are!
Love that we have so many things in common.
I know that she totally rocked her sessions, even though I didn't get to see her in action.

Let's just say this girl has been on my radar for awhile.
Jessica from Wild About Firsties.
Her blog is something fierce and I LOVE her ideas and all her fabulous freebies!
She gave me some great ideas for number sense and my kiddos are loving it already!

I feel like I've known this last blogger for awhile now, even though this was our first time meeting.
I've been reading her blog, for 5 years, since the minute I found out I got my first teaching job.
She was (and still is) my inspiration.
Cara blogs over at The First Grade Parade.
She is brilliant. I attended 3 of her sessions and have never taken so much away from a speaker.

I feel so motivated, rejuvenated, and inspired to give my kids the best learning.
Totally in teacher heaven!!!!
The ladies are THE BEST mentors a teacher could have!
Love each of y'all!

January 30, 2016

Do Ducks Help Crazy Behavior?!?!

I know my kiddos truly are sweet...deep down inside.
But holidays, parties, crazy schedules can bring out their arch rival nemesis selves! 
Such as the month of Valentine's day (or so it seems).
So what do I do to keep them their sweet little selves? 

Call in the ducks.
Yes, call in the ducks!

Not only was it the VERY first thing they noticed when they walked in this morning (they are like hawks I tell you) but that was the very first question out of their mouth.
"Why are their ducks on your desk?"
Here was my game plan.
Whenever the ducks (aka the teacher) saw someone who was on task any time throughout the day and making good choices, that duck would come join them at their desk. The duck could move back to my desk at any time, or to another friend's desk if they were making even better choices.

The best part...if the duck was on your desk at the end of the day, you get candy from the candy jar
you get a "super student" ticket for the day!

{If you want to learn more about my ticket system click HERE.}
It seemed to work like a charm today. As we ease closer to Valentine's day, I'm hoping the idea will withhold its magical powers.
Who ever knew spending $1 on ducks at Target could be such a brilliant idea!

January 21, 2016

Responding to Literature: Ideas and Book Responses for Teaching Reading Comprehension

Do you ever struggle getting your students to respond to books you read to teach comprehension?
Often do you wonder, "are they really getting it"?

When I am explicitly teaching about comprehension such as connections, schema, plot, etc., I use the vocabulary that teachers may think of as "scary" or "intimidating" for their students. 
Sometimes we think, "wait a minute, that word is way to big for me to use in my teaching dialogue with my 6 and 7 year olds!"


My first graders use those big words, WHY...because they hear me use those BIG words.
Daily I hear my students using language such as this:
"I have a connection. This reminds me of a time....."
"I am using text clues to infer that..."
"In my schema..."
"I predict..."

We know that kids mimic what we say starting at a very young age.
If you are using "teacher talk" in your lessons, your  kids eventually will too!
Not only will they use they language, they will understand it and be able to write their thinking down as well! We all want our readers to be thinkers!

Here are some example books I use to teach my students comprehension strategies and the response pages they use to write about their thinking after we read the book.

Text to Text Connections
The Art Lesson
Patches Lost and Found

Text to Self Connections
The Relatives Came
Too Many Toys

Sequencing (Beginning-Middle-End)
Caps for Sale
Harry the Dirty Dog
Strega Nona

The Little Red Elf----Little Red Hot

Green Wilma
Dory Story

Two Bad Ants
Duck on a Bike

Main Idea
Click, Clack, Moo
Giggle, Giggle, Quack

Earlier this year we read the story Patches Lost and Found.
I had my students make 2 connections to the story. As they listened to me read, instead of raising their hand to share, they recorded their thinking on a sticky note.

{find the printable anchor chart seen HERE}

I love hearing my students thinking this time of year. They have seen me model enough to embrace and share their thoughts and such great conversations come from it!

You can find the reader's response sheets in the pictures above in my Reader's Response to Literature pack in my TpT store.

January 19, 2016

A Game of Contraction Toss

Who's kids love to get up and moving?
I know mine do and boy do they need it. We require them to sit, listen, be quiet, whisper.
Lord knows sometimes it's okay to make a little noise when learning!

We have been tuned into contractions the past few weeks. 
Here is a fun way to review or even assess your students.

Prep is easy: paper, marker and something to throw (we used a bean bag).

Each student had the chance to toss the bean bag onto the paper. 
They were to read their contraction and tell us the two words that made it.
They then chose a friend.

From this activity, I could pretty much tell who my strugglers were.
My other firsties listened intently and helped their friends when needed. 

This game is SUPER versatile and could be used across any content area:
compound words
categorizing nouns/verbs/adjectives
phonics/word families
rhyming words (read and generate)
fact fluency

This may just become a staple game in our classroom!

January 12, 2016

Teaching MLK in a Mini-Unit

It seems like January starts the beginning of the never.ending holiday celebrations. First, there is Martin Luther King Jr. day, followed by Groundhog's day, the 100th day of school, and Valentine's Day.
 {Holy holidays!} 
 Uhhh, can anyone say PTL for Spring Break!

Since there are SO many things SO close together to touch on, I figured a day or 2 for each would just have to do. Therefore, I made a MLK mini-unit to kick things off!

This mini-unit is the perfect way to teach MLK in a day (or two)!
 All you need is a non-fiction book to accompany the pages in this unit and you are set!

Here is what the unit includes:

*Who Was MLK? {describing graphic organizer}
*MLK was/had/wanted facts organizer
*MLK 3 facts and a fib {students produce & record 3 facts and a fib)
*Comparing MLK and Me! {Venn diagram}
*MLK: Fact or Not so Much {cut and paste fact activity}
*I Have a Dream, Too! {creative writing prompt}
*I Have a Dream {writing paper}
*MLK ABC order

It's now available in my TpT shop .
It's on sale this weekend only!!

I also saw this amazing idea on Cara's blog to show kiddos the difference between races, good ol' equality as MLK would call it. You need 2 eggs (1 white and 1 brown). Talk about how the eggs are different, the only big difference being color. Then, break the two eggs (removing the shell from sight) and ask the kids if they know which egg came from which shell.
Hopefully this is what they get from it “So…the eggs are like people. Dr. King knew that everybody was really alike and the only thing that was different was the color of our skin, so that’s why he thought that things were unfair.”  TOTALLY GENIUS, right!?!?  Such a great way to show the concept for those visual learners!

January 7, 2016

January Print and Practice Pages

Living in Texas, getting "snowed in" doesn't happen often ever happen So sometimes I have to pretend like I'm snowed in with the rest of the country on dreary cold (like lows in the 40's) days. That's cold for us folks! On days like these, I like to envision myself sitting at my computer with a cup of coffee starting at the snowfall out the window and creating great products for my kiddos. So instead of "snow days" on occasion we have "ice days".

So while I was iced in a couple of years ago,  I created this little gem and am revisiting it for my own version of "Throwback Thursday"!


his "snowed in" creation features easy printable pages that are great for morning work, independent practice pages or homework during January.

Included in the pack:
Grammar Practice Pages
Noticing Nouns
When It Snows I Can... (verb practice)
Describe that Snowman
Describe that Cocoa
Snowball Nouns and Verbs
Winter Wonderland ABC Order
Snowy Sentence Punctuation

Phonics Practice Pages
Assorted Snowmen (silent E practice)

Reader's Response Pages
Text to Text Connections

Click on the picture below to get a FREE page from the pack!


As always, I like to give my products to my avid blog followers so the first 3 of you to leave a comment with your email address will win the pack for free!

If you don't happen to snag it, find it in my TpT shop!