Friday, March 28, 2014

Five for Friday!!!

It's Friday!!!!  Yes, I'm yelling that. Loudly.
What a week. The kid are SO ready for spring break... and so am I.
One more week, more week...

Anyway, since it's Friday, it's time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly linky....

Here's just a little peak at my week :)

If you've been reading any of my blog posts lately, we have been hunkering down with some opinion writing. There are so many books out there that lead into this type of writing, and this is one of my absolute favorites.
Duck! Rabbit!  is hilarious and so stinkin' cute. 
The kids have to decide whether or not the "character" in the book is a duck or rabbit.
Then, they had to write their opinion and tell me WHY they think what they think! :)
We have been building numbers to 120, and one of our favorite activities was building houses!  As with almost every single thing I do, we had to read a book.  We read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and discussed the different houses each of the pigs built. Then, the kids had to build their own pig house using base ten blocks. We had been studying hundreds, so they got that concept & I let them use up to 3 hundred blocks, 9 tens and 9 ones.

Then, they wrote their "address" (the number they used to build the house) down and re-created their house using paper base ten blocks. Next week, we'll focus on even and odd, and use our houses to fill up "Even Avenue and Odd Street"! 

We did this last year, so if want to read more about this activity, you can read that original post {here}.
Kelley at Teacher Idea Factory blogged this week about the most AMAZING management tool - When I tell you it's amazing, trust me on this one.

It's FREE, which of course I love. GoNoodle is a site where you create a free account, and then everyday, you log in with your kiddos and do brain breaks!

There are zumba routines, Just Dance like activities, and even sporting events that will remind you of a Wii game. For example,the kids get a tutorial on a track event like the 100m hurdles, and they practice.... JUMP.

Then, they get to actually participate in a relay & the screen shows them their virtual score. Of course, they think they've really placed in the event, and they go nuts!  With every brain break, the class earns activity points, and levels up. It's AWESOME!!!

Most of the brain breaks are between 3-5 minutes, and it's perfect for that time in the day where your little ones need to get their wiggles out.

To learn more about it, go check out Kelley's post {here}.

You know me, I love some blogger inspired lessons!
This one comes from the incredible Cara at The First Grade Parade.

If you haven't read Hey, Little Ant!, you must! It's a story of a boy and an ant. The ant is trying to convince the boy not to squish him, and at the end of the book, the author leaves the decision up to the reader.

The kids wrote their OPINION of what they boy should do & then made this super cute craft.

Again, it's all FREE and on Cara's blog :)

And last, but certainly not least.... I got to spend some much-needed quality time with my oldest and dearest friend....
 We have been best friends for almost 25 years, and live 3 hours apart, so any time we get to hang out is a true blessing.  She took her sweet little girl on a mini-vacay to Atlanta for some American Girl shopping and LegoLand fun, so we managed to squeeze in some quality time. 

The picture is a little Throwback Thursday action for ya! We haven't aged THAT much, I dont think :)

And, this weekend, I get to spend time with my other best friend of 25 years... 
There's nothing like lifelong friends, and I'm so excited :)

So, that's it for me, friends. What a great...and BUSY...week!  
Head on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching and link up.. I'd love to see what you've been up to :)

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sight Words: The Bane of my Existence!

So, I hear that some teachers don't ever take any work home. I'd like to meet those teachers, and find out their magic trick. Do you have an elf in your pocket that gets everything done? My "to-do" list just gets longer and longer as the year goes on, and I am still looking for that elf.

As for me, every weekend - well almost every weekend - I celebrate Schoolwork Sunday.  Oh yeah, it's quite a party...complete with confetti (scraps from cutting out laminate), paper products (oh, the papers to grade!), and delectable delights like sight words.

Ugh. Sight Words.

They have become the bane of my existence.

In my district, our first graders are expected to learn 600 by the end of the year. No, you read that right, 600. We used to teach to 220, but now it's 600.

I've had teacher friends in other places ask me how we teach these,and how we keep up with the data.

Enter sight word rings...
Oh, it's not anything new. Billions of teachers use sight word rings every year in their classrooms. It's just that it's the only way I have figured out to teach these things, and honestly, it works.

So, every two weeks, I test all 24 kids on their words, and make new sight word rings. Each child has different words to learn, so they all have to be different.
 I use their data charts to know exactly what words to put on their ring, and then sit down with my hand-dandy crayola markers and go to town.
Each child has a sight word card on the front of their ring.
The words are color coded by each group of 100.  I write the words in those colors, so they know exactly what group of words they are working on.
They earn a check mark and a prize for each group they learn.
 This all happens until we hit 600.

After that point, I figure they don't need individual words on rings, but I don't want the kids to stop learning new words, so I put lists on rings.

Now, I'm not one to reinvent the wheel if I don't absolutely HAVE to, so when I found these lists of 1-1000 words, I was a happy happy camper.
Again, I go with the color code. It helps me, and it helps them know what list they are working on.

Each group of 100 is broken down into 25-word lists. (Click {here} for the lists)

I cut those apart and laminate (well, not in this picture..haha).
I am in LOVE with these lists...  the kids that have moved past 600 still like having a ring, but it has eliminated the work of individual cards.

And, like I said, it works.
 This little one knew 102 coming into first grade....
And as of last week, he was 543!  Woo hoo!  See? A party, indeed!

I keep track of the data with a very sophisticated antiquated system that looks like this...
As you can tell, I have kiddos that range from less than 100 words to more than 600... 

Which is why I do it. I don't know any other way, and it seems to be working :)

But, this is the first year working with this many words, and using the lists for more than 600, and I'm wondering if lists would work for the first sets.  

Here's where YOU come in - what do YOU do?  How many words do YOU have to teach?
I'm open to suggestions, friends.... 

Right now, my plan is to make these lists a little cuter (I can't help myself sometimes!), but with 37 days left of the school year (Woo hoo! Again with the party!), I'm sticking with what I've got :)

As for HOW we teach them, it's a huge partnership between home and school, and lots of embedded text in guided reading. It's part of the kids' nightly homework, and the sight words are supposed to "live" in their folder, so they can take them out whenever they finish early or have a little extra time.

Again, if you have suggestions, give me a shout!

So, that's it, friends. Keepin' it real for you today...
Leave a comment & let me know how you do it... and as always, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A "Peach" of a Time - Georgia Blogger Meet-Up!

There is so much to be said for this bloggy world- it's filled with so much inspiration and friendship, and it's truly one of the best things I have ever done. I absolutely love being part of this blogging community, and this weekend, I had the fabulous opportunity to meet up with some other Georgia bloggers and TpT sellers...and many of these folks were people I've been blog stalking forever!! 

Jayne at Smart Kids was kind enough to set all this up for us, and she did an amazing job. It doesn't hurt that she's absolutely HILARIOUS, too!!  She had us all laughing from the get-go!

We showed up, and there were already goodies waiting on us.. and how cute are these boxes?! Presh! And they were filled with some amazing prizes. 
We had our tables all decked out with cuteness and ready to get down to some business...and some fun!
We talked products, business plans, and even shared ideas and advice...

We even had an "auction" hosted by Greg at Mr. Elementary Math, who was handy with a gavel.
We were able to see each other's products and take some home, too!

New friends were made....

And I even got to meet one blogger I've been talking to FOREVER.
Angie at Monahan's Monkey Madness and I have been emailing and texting for over a year now, and we'd never met. Today was the day :) So exciting!

Ed and Diane at Georgia School Supply were kind enough to host this event, and to let us do some shopping! If you are ever in Macon, please go to their store - they have SO much stuff. I could have stayed there for HOURS!

It was just such a fun day, and I can't wait to do it again. 
I'm hoping for a summer meet-up, and some more good times :)

I hope everyone left feeling as happy and empowered as I did - what a great day!

Check out some of our Photo Booth fun, and the links to these amazing bloggers. 
They truly are a great group of girls...and a great guy, too! 
Jayne, Kelly, Angie, Stacy, Tara, Valerie
The Teacher Wife
Funky Fresh Firsties

...And They All Fall Down...

Georgia Grown Kiddo's

Jennifer, Carol, Kathy, Meghan, Kim, Irma, Megan


Michelin, Jessica, Greg, Erin, Alison


What a great weekend, and a great way to start the week.  Happy Monday, friends...and as always, thanks for stopping by :)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What if YOU Had Animal Teeth? Hair?

It's Sunday, which means I SHOULD be cleaning house... or laundry...or getting stuff ready for school tomorrow, but instead, I've got the windows open (after taking my Zyrtex) and I'm watching a Twilight movie on TV. Don't judge. I can't help myself.  I guess I'll eventually have to get to that "other" stuff, but for now, I'm just being lazy.

In my laziness, I wanted to blog about the cutest activities we did this week. We have been working on opinion writing, which normally makes me want to bang my head against the wall and run away screaming, but these activities actually made it fun! Mind you, we still have lots of work to do, but it was a great way to really dive into it.

Have you used these books before??
 I'm sure you have, or at least read them to your class, but in my search for activities to do to help my kids with opinion writing, I came upon some amazing ideas using these two books.

We started the week with What If You Had Animal Teeth.  My firsties absolutely loved this one. They laughed so loud as we read it, we actually had to shut the door! Before I read it, I set the purpose by asking them to think about what teeth THEY would choose if they were going to wake up tomorrow with the mouth of an animal. Their choices and reasons were hilarious!

I found this awesome graphic organizer and the teeth templates from Oceans of First Grade ...

 Then, we moved on to our actual opinion writing.  The kids had to state at least 3 reasons why they would choose those teeth.

 Our biggest problem right now is to get them to think past "because I like it".... "because they're cool"... and the like. I really want them to start thinking about the actual REASONS. 

Anyway, they wrote their opinion pieces and made the cutest craftivities. The face patterns and ideas came from First Grade Wow and the different teeth were made by Oceans of First Grade. 

And the best part?? The templates are FREE from these two amazing bloggers!! :)

So cute, right??!!  The kids thought they were hilarious & it really got them excited about writing. I let them make their own hair, which made these little guys even funnier. 

In total, this took two days. 
Then, we moved on to What If You Had Animal Hair?
I just got this book last week at our book fair, and I couldn't wait to read it.
It is so stinkin' funny.  AND, it has so many interesting facts in it, too.

We did a mini lesson on fact vs. opinion, and moved back into our opinion writing.

The Dirt Road Teacher has this amazing pack on her TpT site that goes with this book, and I got the graphic organizer from that. It's awesome - you should check it out!

Anyway, with the writing process, we started with our ideas and the graphic organizer.
 I love how she provided space for THREE reasons.
 It really provided the kids with a great "jumping off" point for their writing.

Then, as with our teeth writing, we wrote our opinion pieces and made our crafts!
 I love how this little guy drew braces on his "self".  Cute!
This little girl asked me how many "baby teeth" we have, and proceeded to make all the little teeth for her person.  I let them all make different teeth for their craft, and I loved how they all turned out.

I had to make the hair templates a little bigger to fit our "heads", so I hand-drew them and ran the copies on construction paper. I didn't do all the animals in the book - just the 7 most popular that the kids picked...
porcupine, zebra, lion, polar bear, musk ox, reindeer, & pangolin.  

If you want the hair templates FREEBIE, just click {here}.
It's a ZIP file with PDFs of each hair type.
*They are hand-drawn and nothing fancy, but I sure hope you can use them!

I just love how they all turned out, but the best part was their writing improved..their IDEAS improved...and they were actually excited and having fun with it!
 We've got lots more work to do, that's for sure.

This week, we're continuing our opinion writing unit with some more fun books, and working on those ACTUAL reasons...

I've got to get them to think past " I like...."

Does anyone else have this problem or tips to help my firsties with this??

So, that's it, friends! Go check out First Grade Wow, Dirt Road Teacher,and Oceans of First Grade for their fabulous ideas...and let me know how it turns out for you! 

I guess I need to go clean house... or do laundry...or wait, is that another cheesy movie coming on?? Hmm...decisions, decisions....

Happy Sunday, and as always, thanks for stopping by!