Friday Flashback #2

It's FRIDAY!!  Let's take a quick rewind of the week and share some of the things going on in our classrooms!  Link up to share a quick flashback of your week!

In writing this week, we finished up our paragraph unit.  One thing that helped a lot this year was my take on the "rate your writing" visual rubrics from Pinterest.  We are required to post our state and/or district writing rubric in our classroom for students to use.  But, let's be serious, these 7 year olds have no idea what that rubric is, much less what it means!  It's just a bunch of words and numbers to them!  So, I took the two sections of the rubric 1) content and ideas and 2) conventions and I created a visual for each number.  The top pics show what a 1, 2, 3 look like for content and ideas (I also made the pictures show what a 1, 2, 3 illustration would look like.  The bottom two pictures have perfectly fine content/ideas, but the conventions are different.  These show what a 1, 2 score of conventions would look like.  I refer to these a lot and they have seemed to help so far.  I can just say "is that a 3 star picture?"  They know to add more details and a background. Or, "Is that 5 star writing?"
 I really need to finish the display with the content/ideas and convention labels!  This week, maybe, this week....

Speaking of Pinterest, due to the common core, we once again have even/odd in our math standards so we did our own version of the Even and Odd Street.
{Pinspiration - Original Source No Longer Active}

Since our kiddos have classroom numbers, we had each student use his/her number to create the house.  Instead of just making the house "neat" if it was even, or "crazy" if it was odd, we had them design the house however they wanted, but all even houses had to have an even number of items added and the odd numbers had to have an odd number of items added (ex. chimneys, windows, flowers, etc).

I was also excited to find these books (although they arrived the day AFTER the lesson...oh well, I'll have them for next year)...
I also bought My Half Day for when we get to fractions!  I could see writing our own math books based on these..."My Double Day", "My Shape Day", etc....

What have you been up to this week?  Link up when you have a chance...I'd love to read about it!


Budding Bloggers Showcase: Creating Bookworms

Happy Wednesday all!  I hope you're having a fantastic week....we're half way to the weekend!  It's time to meet another wonderful "Budding Blogger!"

Hello, I am Heather Best from Creating Bookworms.   I live in Goldsboro, North Carolina.  I am entering my 15th year of teaching. This year I will be teaching my favorite grade-first.  However, I have taught grades k-3 and been an instructional consultation facilitator over my career.  I am a National Board Certified teacher with an EC-Generalist certification.  I will be going through the process of renewing this year! I have two boys Avery (10 years old) and Worth (7 years old).  They are extremely curious.  We love to go hiking.  Critters are often brought back for us to investigate. I am married to my best friend and hugest supporter, John.  We have a 10 month old golden retriever named, Lucy.  She is filled with energy and a wonderful addition to our Best Crew!

My favorite subject to teach is Reading and Writing. I just can't name one.  They work together and are hard to separate.  For 14 years, I have used a writer's workshop approach in my classroom.  I am amazed at the incredible stories that my first grade authors create.  Two years ago I began learning about Reader's Workshop. I truly love to teach reading in this format.  I only wished I had learned about it sooner.  I find it super rewarding to inspire children to read!  I couldn’t think of anything better to do with my time.
If you were to pop into my classroom, you would hear a soft murmur of voices.  Children would be all over the room reading, writing or solving math problems.  I would be found on the floor talking with one child or a small group of children.  Most of my day is spent conferring with individual students or teaching small group lessons.
I am still as passionate about my job as the first day I started. However, I do have my moments when I think WHY AM I DOING THIS?  It never fails on these days; I get an overload of random hugs, from students in my class and all over the school.  It is like someone is trying to tell me," the children need you and that's why."

I could not live without THE PRIMARY COMPREHENSION TOOL KIT!  This tool helps me create incredible comprehension strategy lessons.  I am in the process of learning the language needed to create deep comprehension thinkers. Stephanie Harvey helps me with this through these remarkable lessons.
I started my blog five months ago!  I had been stalking blogs for awhile and wanted to give back by sharing my thoughts and ideas. My blog goal for the year is to share more.  Sometimes I get a little blog fright and think "My idea is not that great."  I am learning that someone is always interested in what you are thinking.  I look forward to gaining more followers! Please hop on over to my blog and be one of my newest friends!
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me.  I would love to hear from you!

My Family

Thanks for sharing with us, Heather!  I absolutely LOVE the name of your blog!  Best of luck in your renewal process...I just went through that last year!  I am on way to check out The Primary Comprehension Tool Kit right now. ;)  While, I do that, I want everyone else to go check out Heather's Blog!  Here's the link again...


Teaching Tip Tuesday: Classroom Jobs

Do you use classroom jobs in your class?  If not, what are you waiting for??  Assigning classroom jobs is a terrific way to help YOU keep the classroom running smoothly while teaching students responsibility.  Over the years I've done classroom jobs in many different ways.  Here's how I do them this year and why...

Before the year starts, I create a list of classroom jobs that will help keep our classroom running efficiently.  I make sure to include enough jobs so that EVERY student has one.  My current list is below (with a couple of blank spots to add more jobs if new students come)...

I keep my classroom job assignments for an entire quarter.  This might seem long to some, but I love it when the kiddos KNOW their job and things are running smoothly!!  Changing jobs daily or weekly was too much of a hassle for me.  We change each quarter which gives students a chance to perform four different jobs throughout the year.  When it's time to change jobs, I let students put their top 3 choices on a post-it to turn in.  I'm usually able to give them one of their choices using this system.

My job chart (above) is just printed on a regular sheet of paper and laminated.  I then use clothespins with students' numbers on them to clip beside the assigned jobs.  This makes changing jobs easy and it takes up very little space in my classroom (yay...because space is a limited commodity!)

One of the reward coupons I use in my class is "Job Swap" so students do have the opportunity to select that as a reward to have a chance to "try out" a different job.  They love that!

If you're trying to do it ALL yourself, share the love and let the students help around the classroom! It will ease your load and help them build responsibility!  :)

If you already use classroom jobs, do you have different jobs than the ones listed above?  Is there a certain job that helps you out tremendously?? 

I added "teacher's assistant" for the first time this year and this job helps me out daily!  This student puts all of the collected papers in number order each afternoon so that they are ready for me to grade!  The student LOVES being the "teacher's assistant" and it saves me precious minutes of after school time!

Font Frenzy

How do you unwind after a day a long week at work?  I've spent the evening playing around with my new font app!!!  Talk about A-D-D-I-C-T-I-N-G.  I think I'll get better at making fonts with more experience, but here are the ones I've created so far.  You can click them to download if you see any you'd like to use.  Once  you click on it, just click on the pink download button on the left-hand side of the screen.  Then click "open" and "install." 

I can't wait to have more time to play around with this app!  In the meantime, feel free to use any of these fonts - no strings attached!  Have a SPECTACULAR weekend!

**UPDATE**YIKES!  I guess through all of my excitement, I forgot to tell you the name of this handy little app!  It is called ifontmaker.  If you have an iPad, you must get it!! It's not free, but it's worth the entertainment! :)

Budding Bloggers Showcase: For the Love of Teaching

Calling all Intermediate Teachers!  Lightbulb Minds is having their Great Lightbulb Minds Giveaway this week.  Just visit their facebook page to enter a giveaway for a FREE UNIT of your choice.  There's a new giveaway each day this week, so visit often!

Hey y'all!  I am so excited to participate in Amanda's budding bloggers showcase!  Thanks for the opportunity, Amanda!  

My name is Lana and I blog over at For the Love of Teaching!

Personal Info:  I live in the state of South Carolina, but I am a Tennessee girl through and through!  Go Vols!  I grew up in middle Tennessee, but have lived in South Carolina for almost 5 years now.  I am married to my husband, Joe and we have one son together named Easton.  Easton is two years old.  One of my favorite things to do is see him learn and teach him about shapes, colors, and numbers.   

Grade I Teach:  All five years of my teaching career have been in fourth grade.  I love my fourth graders!  I am licensed to teach Kindergarten through sixth grade.

Favorite subject to teach:  This is a tough one!  I would have to say either Science or Social Studies!  I love making history come alive and really get kids interested in Social Studies.  But, I also love Science!  Our district supplies us with FOSS kits for Science, which makes it even more fun and hands on!

What you would see if you popped into my classroom unannounced:  You would probably see us moving around the classroom in some form or fashion!  I like to begin lessons at the rug, read aloud at the rug, and let students independently read around the room.  Can you imagine sitting in the same spot all day? No fun!  I really try to incorporate movement throughout my lessons.

What gets me through one of "those" days:  When I have one of those really hard days, I buy a real Coke (I usually drink Coke Zero, so a real Coke is a treat!) and drink it on my way home in radio, no noise.  I pick up my sweet Easton and just try to forget about the day and remember that my son deserves me with my best attitude! Seeing him smile, laugh, and play usually turns my mood around.  Or hearing "love you mama" that always does the trick!

My "can't live without" teaching resource:  Definitely my Smartboard!  I use it all the time and love it so much!  I don't know what I'd do if I moved somewhere without one!

Summary of my favorite classroom activity/project:  I mentioned earlier about how my district provides us with FOSS kits.  My favorite one is Science is Magnetism & Electricity.  It is SO hands on and fun!  During this unit, we learn how magnets attract and repel.  

We sort bags of test objects into conductors and insulators:

We discover how a magnet attracts iron fillings and use that to find a magnet hidden in a box.  
We make a motor run using a switch.

We learn how to make light bulbs light in series and parallel circuits.

One of my blogging goals this year:  My main blogging goal this year is to take pictures of classroom activities and blog on a regular basis!  
Be sure to stop by Lana's blog for more great ideas and posts!  Go ahead and click the follow button while you're there!  You know she's great if I let her post about the Vols on my blog! hehehe...just kidding, Lana! {sort of...we're going to work on turning you into a Gamecock here in SC!} And, we're definitely lucky to have such a great teacher working here!

Meet Up and Giveaway Suggestions

The Carolina Bloggers Meet Up was Saturday in Columbia.  It was my first-ever blogger meet up and it was so much fun!!  I was a little (okay, maybe a lot) in awe of being surrounded by soooo much teacher greatness! :)  I think it's amazing that we have so many fabulous bloggers in our area and was thrilled to meet so many of them in person FINALLY!!  Here's a pic from the meet up (thanks, Ginger!)

I think the next meet-up should be a weekend girls' trip!  I'm sure we could get into a lot of trouble have a lot of fun together, and lunch wasn't nearly long enough!  I didn't even get to talk with half of these girls so I know I missed out on some fabulous ideas, but the girls I did chat-it-up-with were so sweet and we had so much in common.  It's just nice to be with people (other teachers) who understand all of the ups and downs and craziness of this time of the year!

And a GREAT BIG THANKS to Rebecca from Landing in K for sorting out everyone's names and blogs so you can follow everyone (see below!)

In attendance {make sure you follow their blogs for fabulous ideas--no matter what grade it is!}:
from left to right- sort of!
 Autumn, Ashley, and Tammy from Fanatical in First Grade
Kim (starting her blog soon, right Kim?!?)
Elizabeth from Fun in 4B
Gretchen from Always a Lesson
Shasta from The Loop
Heather and Juli from Simple In Second
Amanda from Teaching Maddeness
Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher
Rebecca from Landing in K
Natalie from Teachery Tidbits
After the meet-up, I did a little shopping in Columbia and then met my sister for the Carolina game.  It was around 1:00am when I finally got home Sunday morning.  Needless to say, I hadn't checked my blog all day, but I hadn't receivde any notifications of people joining my "Friday Flashbacks" linky party. {sad face}  Then, today I realized that about 20 of you have joined the party...I must have missed a usual step that I take when setting up the party so I'm just not receiving notifications that you're joining the party!!  YAY!!  Now, I'm off to explore your happenings from the week and respond to all of you!!  Can't wait to gather up some new ideas from you - thanks for linking up this weekend!

Now, for the giveaway suggestions.  I'm starting to creep up on the 1,000 follower mark so I'm thinking of a BIG GIVEAWAY but want to get your feedback.  What giveaways do you like the MOST (I know you love them all...who doesn't?)  Do you love it when you see giftcards, teacher resources, or tangible goods?  I'm thinking of possibly a door hanger of your choice from the girl who made my "monster door hanger" - your choice of design and personalization.  Here are a few of the door hangers she has made for me...
Monster Welcome Door Hanger for School
Palmetto Tree Door Hanger for Home
Turkey Door Hanger for Thanksgiving

So tell me, what giveaways do you LOVE the MOST??

Speaking of Giveaways, Lightbulb Minds is having their Great Lightbulb Minds Giveaway Week.  Just visit their facebook page to enter.  They'll be giving away one FREE UNIT of your choice each day this week!


Friday Flashback Linky: Fairytale Talk Show & More!

Join the new "Friday Flashback" Linky Party where you take a look back at your week and share at least one activity from your classroom that you haven't had time to share about yet!  It can be a lesson, strategy, song, read-aloud....anything that was a hit!

This week, I'm going to start with our "Fairy Tale Talk Show" that we did today.  We're in the midst of our reading strategies unit and we've been learning about questioning while you read.  We've learned that you ask questions before you read, during reading, and after reading.  We've also learned about asking thin questions and thick questions.  As a culmination to our week of questioning, we held a "Fairy Tale Talk Show" today!  Yesterday, we read Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  After reading it, students wrote questions that were not answered in the book.  They addressed the questions to the characters and had an opportunity to ask them at our talk show!  Of course, we didn't REALLY have the characters come to our classroom....the students took on the roles of the characters!  This means that they had to use their reading brains to formulate answers to the THICK questions being asked by their classmates!

Here are a couple of short video clips of those reading brains working...

Another activity we did that I loved was to create a Landform Dinosaur!  Have you seen this idea on Pinterest?
How precious!!  I thought this would be a FANTASTIC way for students to internalize the landforms.  They each drew their own as the teacher modeled it step by step.

And finally, this song has been STUCK in my head all week.  Best doubles song ever! :)
I hope you enjoyed a little "flashback" of our week!  What have you been up to this week?  Link up below to share your favorite activity(ies) from the week! I'll be back on Sunday!  Looking forward to the Carolina Bloggers Meet Up tomorrow and then, of course, to the game to watch my Gamecocks play tomorrow night!

A New Idea and a New Game

As much as I intend to blog regularly during the week, it's just not happening yet!  We've been super busy this week and I have a TON of things I want to share.  Since the weekdays are flying by, I thought I would start a new LINKY PARTY called "Friday Flashbacks" where I (and hopefully you) will choose one thing (or lots of things) that happened in your classroom this week that you just haven't had a chance to share yet!  Can you imagine if everyone took the time to link up with a great activity, lesson, read-aloud, or teaching strategy that was a hit throughout the week??  I hope you'll join me tomorrow as I "flashback" through the week to share some of my favorite activities!  Here's the linky logo to look out for tomorrow...I hope you'll link up this weekend!
For today, I've got a share from LAST WEEK...

We wrapped up our Nutrition Study last week and I thought I'd share about one of the new games I got from Learning Resources.  It's called Healthy Helpings and it is really simple to play but the kids LOVED it!  We actually had a "game party" that they earned from completing a "compliment puzzle" that our school uses and there was a MAD DASH to this game!

The directions are very easy so the kids pick up how to play very quickly.  Players spin the spinner and select one of the 50 food pieces that they think belongs in the food group the arrow lands on.  
The foods are self-checking, so the student flips it over to see if he/she is correct.  If so, he/she places it on the correct spot on his/her game board (plate).  If not, it goes back in the pile of food.
The part that they LOVE is that the spinner has a "Take" and a "Give" section.  If a student lands on "Take" he/she gets to take a food from another players plate.  If they land on "Give" they have to give a food to another player.  This element really adds some strategy to the game since the winner is the player who has their plate "full" first (at least one food from each food group.)
The only downside to this game is that there are only 4 game boards, so only a few kids can play at a time.  It would be great for a center or small group time, but I would LOVE to have more of these games!  The game boards and pieces are very thick so it will be a game that can withstand lots of play and last for years and years - a great new addition to this unit!


Budding Blogger Showcase: First Grade Fairytales

Wow!  Is it Wednesday again already?  That means it's time to meet another fabulous teacher blogger!! 
Name:  Kelly

Blog: First Grade Fairytales

Personal info: I currently live in Georgia, and have been here for 11 years. I was born in Tennessee & grew up in Alabama. I'm a southern mutt, and love it ! :)  I went to a tiny university outside of Birmingham and moved to GA the summer after graduation to take a teaching job. There weren't any near home, so I had to take the giant leap and move here. I had never even stayed alone, and I just packed up and moved. It seems crazy looking back on it, but I don't regret it at all! 
My parents and boyfriend all live in Alabama, so I drive a lot to visit. I absolutely love a good road trip so I guess having to drive to see the people I love the most isn't too bad. My iPod is my best friend since I spend so much time in the car.  My other interests (besides traveling) are crafts, good music, reading and shopping.  I do love to shop. haha :)
Grade You Teach: 
I teach 1st grade, and taught 1 year of Kindergarten. First grade is where my heart is & I love seeing all the growth that happens.When that light turns on for those babies, it's like magic !

How long have you taught?  

This is my 12th year!  My first 5 were spent in a school that was so very different from where I grew up. It was in a low socioeconomic area, and the things I saw & encountered during those 5 years really helped me appreciate life and the innocence of being a child - something many of these kids never got to experience. It made me who I am today, that's for sure.   After commuting over an hour one way,twice a day, for 5 years,I decided to change districts and got a job just down the road from where I live. It was culture shock, but I absolutely love my school & my kiddies ! 

What is your favorite subject to teach?  

Reading & Writing. I got my Masters in 2006 in Reading Instruction, and it's the best subject. It's where you can see the most growth & to inspire a love for reading in children is definitely its own reward!

What would we likely see if we popped into your classroom unannounced? 

Hopefully, lots of smiles!!  We sing, we dance, we's so much fun!  I'm also a little OCD about organization, so you'd also see a lot of tubs, labels, and usually (fingers crossed on this one) children that are definitely on a schedule and routine.I think kids thrive with structure as long as you keep it fun and make it meaningful.

What gets you through one of “those” days?  

The notes left on my desk that say " I love you!" . . . the hugs at the end of the day... a visit from a former student that tells you that you made a difference,or an impression.  Also, Diet Coke, some chocolate when necessary, WONDERFUL coworkers, and the promise of an upcoming weekend or vacation. haha :)

What is one “can’t live without” teaching resource?  

Wow, there are so many!!  Does my laminator count?? If it wasn't so heavy, I think I might just carry it with me!  Right now, teaching blogs are the best resource for new & innovative ideas. Also,a great planner . . . and comfy shoes!  As far as books,I'm still a huge fan of Mosaic of Thought - great resource for Guided Reading!

Give us a glimpse of your teaching style by sharing a brief summary of a favorite classroom activity/project.    

This is the hardest question, by far. I love my kids to actually MAKE something to help create a memorable connection to what we have learned.  This past year, we did a writing unit on Word Choice, and focused on "Said is Dead".  We had a memorial service for "Said",and make tombstones with the word SAID on them.  (This was at Halloween so it wasn't nearly as morbid as it sounds,I promise!). We then created a replica tombstone with alternative ways of saying "said" and stapled them over our "boring" ones.Since it was Halloween, we also made ones that showed other ways of saying "scary" and some other fun words.The "boring" word was underneath the better word choice,which was written in glitter!  We also made ghosts with good word choices on them. The kids LOVED it & I had the best year of writing with better word choice :)  All through the year at Author's Chair, kids would comment," I used the word 'screamed' to give more detail because Said is Dead!".

What is one of your blogging goals for this year?  

To continue to get new ideas to use in the classroom. After 12 years, it's always fun to try something new!  I also want to start making some products for TPT, but right now, I'm just enjoying getting to "know" other great teachers out there. It's amazing how talented everyone is!!  


Thanks so much for sharing about yourself, Kelly!  A love for reading, structure, routines, the South, and your personal laminator....I think we may have been separated at birth! :)  I hope everyone drops by Kelly's blog to explore some of her fabulous posts and to show her some new blogger friend love!

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