I've Got Mail!

When my hubby brought in the mail tonight, he handed me a package! I tore it open, and here is what I found:

I won a giveaway from Leslie at Fab in First, and my stuff arrived today! I can't wait to take my kids through this new Walk It and Talk It tomorrow morning! What a perfect activity for when I'm being observed ;) Thanks, Leslie!!



Egg-Hunt Surprise: A Springy Fact Family Activity

I don't know about you, but my kids can't ever get enough fact family practice. It's great for my high kiddos who need an easy-on-the-teacher early finisher activity, but it's also wonderful reinforcement for my friends that struggle with the addition/subtraction relationship. Here's a simple cutesy activity that I hope you can implement in your own room! :) Yay Spring!


You Know You Teach First Grade When...

I love lists like these! Reading other peoples' lists just make me smile and think, "I'm so glad I'm not the only one that happens to!" After reading my list, head on over to The Inspired Apple to join in the linky fun!

You Know You Teach First Grade When...

- Everything you own suddenly seems to be color-coded... even at home.

- Your holiday "wish lists" consist of organizational containers and resource books. Plus some new markers.

- You find yourself telling your HUSBAND, "I'll be happy to cook you dinner when you ask me politely."

- The sound of children you don't know sounding out words and reading a book while waiting for a table at a restaurant makes you smile really big.

- You have a kiddo tell you "I've been waiting three whole years for science like this... preschool, kindergarten, and now first grade! I'm so excited it's finally here!"

- You check your lovely bloggy friends' blogs NIGHTLY for any new and fun idea that you know will make your kiddos squeal with delight! :-)

- You wake up every morning ready to go, and you can't wait to see those smiling faces greet you at the door!



Egg-citing News!! And a miracle. :)

This is one of our FAVORITE times of year in first grade... it's time to hatch real, live chicks!! :)

My team and I traveled to the farm today to pick up our 18 or so eggs that were freshly laid this morning. We put them in the waiting incubator and now we cross our fingers! In 21 days, we should hear a whole lotta peeping coming from our end of the hallway. It's always a great Kindergarten "field trip" to walk through the room and watch the newly hatched chicks waddle about. They're just so darn cute, it's hard to resist!

Here is the journal that we're going to be filling out as we go through this unit, along with a certificate for the "egg-sperts" when they've completed their studying! Use if you're able to :-) And stay tuned for chicky updates!

Chick Journal (here is the website that you'll use with this journal: http://chickscope.beckman.uiuc.edu/explore/embryology)

On an un-related note, check out the cuuuute story from my room today!
     We were doing a word bulding activity where the kiddos cut out their own letter cards, and one of my sweet girlies lost her letter O. She was worried about it, but we made due and went on. After the activity was over and they were picking up, I hear her voice again say, "I found my missing O! I guess miracles really DO happen!"  I love their innocence :-)



I Don't Do Literacy Centers...

Okay, are you over the initial shock of the title yet? If not, don't read on until you are :) This is my post to add to Patton's Patch's linky party for today!

It's true - we don't do centers. In my school, we tried centers and guided reading the traditional way, but it just wasn't working for our kiddos, and our scores were showing that. So, our principal and reading guru headed out on the road to visit different schools to see how they do it. We are a Title 1 building with an ELL center, as well. We have a pretty diverse community and we have several families who move in and out over the course of their K-4 education. When looking for a fix to our problem, it was important to find a school that was similar in demographics to ours so we'd be comparing apples to apples. Long story short, we found the fix! We've been doing reading this way for several years now, and we are performing in the top 5% of all Kansas schools, so I'd say it's working! :-)

Here's what our literacy looks like:
*1.5 hours of Storytown Reading Series (whole class)

*30 minutes of writing (Storytown writing mixed with a district written curriculum - whole class)

*30 minutes of Storytown Guided Reading (small groups)
             Each student sees a teacher for this time, and we have 10 adults available during this time (3 first grade teachers, 2 reading teachers + their 2 paras, 1 SpEd teacher, 1 ELL teacher, 1 teacher aide), so the groups average about 5 kiddos each. We use the Fountas & Pinnell leveling system, so all of our kiddos are in groups with peers on the same reading level. These are flexible and kids move as their abilities change. The whole grade level moves kids at the same time for this, so, for instance, I only have 1 of my homeroom kids in my group along with 2 from each of the other first grade classes.

*30 minutes of Intervention Groups (small groups)
             Here's where all kiddos see an adult for another type of reading group! Once again, the kids are all shuffled and are grouped with like-ability peers. However, we don't do more guided reading at this time. This group works on a specific part of literacy that the kids need a boost in (phon. awareness, phonics, fluency, etc.). The teacher plans lessons based on the kids' needs and uses DIBELS to monitor progress to see if the kids need to move to another group!

*30 minutes of Tier 3/Title 1 time (small group, some students only)
            While most of the first graders head back to class for a read aloud and snack, the kids who struggle the most see our reading specialists for another dose of reading instruction and snack.

While it took some getting used to, we have found that the results FAR outweigh any uncomfort on the teachers' parts to get rid of centers. Our kids are getting instruction all day tailored to their needs. My strugglers aren't floundering out there in center time clueless and lost. It's great! :-)

Hope that all made sense!!



More Linky Fun... Daily Organization

Mrs. Patton has invited us all to share our Daily Organization Tips as part of her Organization Week! I've posted a little about this before, but I've tweaked a couple things.

I sort my daily materials into these tubs - activity sheets, manipulatives, read alouds... it all fits!

However, I have made new labels for the bins (those were handwritten very quickly a few years back).

Daily Materials Labels

Also, I put the "Next Week" label on the purple bin for all those things I'm ahead of the game on! :) I want to add file folders to the Next Week bin with Mon-Fri labels so I can easily sort the pages into the correct day. Each Friday before I leave, I make sure that everything's in its proper place for the following week! So far, it's worked out like a charm!

Your turn! Head over to Patton's Patch to join in the fun!



Great Giveaway!

Michelle over at Fabulous in First  is teaming up with two other ladies and hosting one tremendous giveaway!!

The winner will receive Abby's ever famous Clipboard Classroom Activities
You'll have Reader's/Writer's Workshop, centers or Daily 5 covered for quite some time! 

Head on over to see how to enter :-)


I Won!

I got an email this afternoon letting me know that I won Fab in First's Story Walk and Talk giveaway!

Thanks so much, Leslie!! :-) My kiddos will love this new activity!



Linky Party!

Jennifer over at Rowdy in First Grade is hosting a "10 Things I've Learned from Teaching" linky party. I can't wait to read everyone's thoughts... but I had to get mine down on 'paper' first, so I wasn't tempted to use other ideas. :-)  Here they are, in no particular order!

1. Do NOT try to break in a new pair of shoes while teaching! Save it for the weekend!
2. You can never have too many bags – canvas totes, ziplocks, plastic grocery sacks… they’re all good!
3. Even though I’m nearly 28, bodily function noises can still make me giggle. That’s embarrassing to admit!
4. It’s okay to cry with a parent over news, good or bad, academic or personal.
5. Kids get excited over the simplest things!
6. No matter how much a student aggravates me, his hug and his “I wuv you, Mrs. Stoma” will still make me melt. EVERY TIME.
7. When my students get hurt, I feel their pain! I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when it’s one of my own kids!
8. I LOVE new pens! And markers. And highlighters. And school supplies in general. I can always find room for something new!
9. Not all staplers are created equal! PaperPro staplers just do such an awesome job of attaching my papers to our really hard bulletin boards.
10. Every August, I find myself with excited butterflies – even more so than the kiddos, I’m sure!! I am always so eager to get a new year and a new adventure underway!
Head over to the Party and add your two cents! And happy Friday bloggie friends!! Enjoy the weekend :-)



On Saturday...

Here's my next set of activities for my kiddos! We're on Lesson 23 of Storytown, and the main selection is entitled "On Saturday." It has kind of a fallish feel to it... but the main story has all sorts of red, orange, and green falling maple leaves, so I went with it! :-) Fall is my favorite season, so I was okay with it... just this once!

Please feel free to use and enjoy if you teach Storytown! (Or if you don't, but want to practice these words anyways!)

On Saturday Spelling Words and HWF



47 Days...

Well, Spring Break has come to a close! Chicago was a BLAST... and my closet now has 2 new Coach purses and I have 2 new Coach ID holders to wear at school! :-) Plus, the hubby got to meet my wonderful great-aunt for the first time, and we had a grand ol' time hanging out with her!

Tomorrow morning, it's back to the grind. My student teacher finished before Break, so I'm back with my kiddos - I can't WAIT! I've missed them so much :-) We officially have 47 days of school left for the year, but...
One day is an inservice.
One day is Field Day.
One day is our Field Trip.
One day is a half-day (our last day).
So, really, there are about 43 days left!  Holy Schmoly!
43?!? We'd better hit the ground runnin'... still have a lot to learn to be ready for Second Grade!

Have a Happy Monday, everyone!



I -Heart- Cute Graphic Giveaways!!

This girl is in HEAVEN! There are two amazing giveaways going on right now to two of my favorite sites for amazing graphics! Check them out:

Head over to The First Grade Sweet Life for a chance to win a Scrappin' Doodles gift certificate! (Click her button)

Next, head over to Oceans of First Grade Fun for a couple of chances to win some great stuff from my NEW favorite place - Just So Scrappy Too!
Alright, back to my Spring Break fun in Chicago - did you really think I'd be able to stay away from bloggie-land for an entire week?  Ha - no way! :-)



Spring Break!!

What are your plans? I'm heading to Chicago - first time ever! Any suggestions...?? :-)



Let's Go on a Picnic!

After seeing some AWESOME ideas at other fabulous blogs (check out Teacher's Pets on the right for some fantastic links!!), I got jealous since we teach Story Town and it seems as if all the good teachers teach Reading Street. So... I got creative myself! If you use Story Town, feel free to use. And if you know of a good blog of someone who teaches with that program, pleeeeeease lead me to it! :-)  Thanks!!

Picnic Spelling Words and HFW



Flying High with Fact Family Kites!

Here's something I threw together last night while thinking of a review math activity the kids can do after Spring Break! If you can use it in your room, feel free! Enjoy :) This is one of the first items I've made for others to see, let alone use! Please let me know if you have any suggestions for me as to how I can improve! :)

Flying High With Fact Family Kites
{Clipart from DJ Inkers - http://www.djinkers.com/}



Rainbows, Dr. Seuss, and Tears.... lots of tears

Ever have one of those days where your emotions are just ALL over the map??? That was my Wednesday...

First off, everyone knows that Wednesday was the best day to be a first grader; it was Dr. Seuss' birthday!! We got to celebrate and do fun activities and make Cat in the Hat hats and even sneak in a couple of great Dr. Seuss videos throughout our day. It's times like this that really make me loooove first grade!

However, in Room 108, our day was a little clouded. It was one of my kiddos' (Jake, we'll call him) last day in my room. We have been collecting data on this little one since Kindergarten, and the trend was showing a huge rise in daily aggression and use of inappropriate language. This data led to his team deciding that we needed to pursue a more specialized placement for his IEP services. In our district (only 6 elementary schools), we have one building that houses the ED program, and that's where we decided he'd be best served. Even though I know that this is the best placement for him and his needs, and I know that the rest of my class will be able to learn in a safe, calm environment... well, I still cried that day.

I teared up when telling my class (before he came in) that it was going to be his last day. I cried with his mom when he came in from breakfast and the kiddos swarmed him with "We'll miss you, Jake!" and all the hugs one could ever want! And I cried the hardest when I watched him walk out of our building at the end of the day with his grandma. The little stinker was walking away and he stopped, turned, and looked so wistfully back at the building he'd never come back to as a student. The look on his face will forever be in my brain. And I'll probably tear up every time I remember it. Like now. :(

Buuut, we did our best to celebrate Jake in our classroom that day! The kids made him ALL sorts of great handmade things to take with him on his way. We took class pics and buddy pics to compile into a memory book (that we sent over to his new school today to help him through this transition). We even had a cupcake celebration at the end of the day!!

While I was too emotional to snap pics of the class eating the Dr. Seuss-themed cupcakes, I made sure to keep one at home for me to capture the hard work of my hubby and myself. The kids loved them! And Jake felt like the most special kiddo on the planet. And that's just what I wanted him to feel - because, for yesterday, he was! :)

Here are the fantastic rainbow creations! If these don't scream Dr. Seuss, I don't know what does!! (Just picture a laughing class full of 6-7 year-olds in red & white striped hats unwrapping these beauties and eating them!)