Monday, May 20, 2013

Budding Blog!

Well, another Monday is in the books.  I'm jealous of all of you in bloggyland who have started Summer Break... then again... I'm reminding myself that I will still be on the beach in August!  21 More days... not that any of us are counting!  
I am seriously going to miss this bunch of kiddies.  I think it's rare to find a great mix of kids who are kind, smart, independent, and funny.  I will probably never get another bunch like them so as much as I am looking forward to summer with my kids, I will probably shed a few tears on this last day.  

So, with my whopping 32 (awesome) followers, I'm pretty sure I fall into the category of "budding blogger."  So I'm linking up with I {heart} recess for her Budding Blog linky.

1. Why did you start blogging?
I've been stalking checking out many blogs for a few years and started to admire (and borrow) the great ideas I found.  Then I discovered Teachers Pay Teachers and started dumping tons of money on adorable products.  Finally, I decided to try my hand at making my own products.  Starting a blog seemed like the next step.  It really started out as an experiment in teaching myself something new.  But I discovered an awesome community of supportive and like-minded teachers and I got hooked.  

2. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?  
Definitely reading and language arts.  There is NOTHING like the rewarding feeling you get from teaching a little one to read.  I went back to get my Masters in Reading because I love it so much.  (Now if I can only get my own child to love reading... a little piece of my heart dies every time he says, "I hate to read."  Tell me it'll pass.. please!)

3. Describe your teaching style.
Gosh, I am such a mix of different styles.  My first year teaching (3rd grade) I had the privilege of working with an outstanding trio of women who all became my mentors.  They are all diversely different in their styles and I think I took a little bit from each of them and added myself to them.  I believe in hands-on, discovery-based lessons, lots of teamwork, and differentiation.  I'm also sarcastic and silly.  My goal is to make school so fun that kids don't realize I'm pushing them harder than they think they can handle.  

4. Give three interesting facts about you.
I'm a mom to two crazy boys (6 & 3) and my fur baby, a 9 year old bulldog.  
I have a mild addiction to Diet Pepsi and Crystal Light. 
I am a beginning slogger (slow jogger).  I've competed in a few 5Ks and a 10K.  I'm debating signing up for my first half marathon but...   I haven't taken the plunge yet!

5. Do you have a TpT store? If yes, post the link :)
Yes, but it's only in the beginning phases.  Please check it out.  I'm looking forward to making more items this summer.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five for Friday

It's time once again to link up with Doodle Bugs- Five For Friday linky party.

1. I got word this week that after calling "room 12" mine for the past 10 years, my classroom is moving for next year.  I will still be in first grade... whew, but I'll be moving down the hall to a bigger room with more storage, woohoo!  The downside is that this better room is only available because my mentee, work wife, and partner in crime for the past two years is being let go because of decreased enrollment... boooo!  DF, I'm going to miss you more than you can imagine.   
So this means that I have to reconfigure my room arrangement that after all this time, I finally perfected.  Change is good... change is good... I just have to keep telling myself that!

2. We are adopting a new math program next year- My Math by McMillan McGraw-Hill.  We got training in the program a few weeks ago and our administration gave us the go ahead to pilot the materials.  Let me just say, I love the simplicity of this program.  And man did I see results!!! We tried a chapter on two digit addition and subtraction (which was never covered in our previous program).   Each lesson was clear and had a predictable routine (we all know first graders love routine, LOL).  All of the manipulatives are available digitally on my smart board.  All homework had wonderful explanations for parents on how the material was presented so that they could work with their child using the same techniques presented in school.  The response was awesome.  The kids, parents, and I really don't even want to return to our previous program to end the year, but it's only for a few more weeks.  If your school is looking to adopt a new math program (Common Core aligned), check it out!
3. As a wrap up project for our math chapter, students wrote word problems with a picnic theme.  I think they turned out adorable.  We had done A LOT of practice with solving word problems in our pilot chapter.  We had practiced underlining what we know and then circling what we need to know.  They drew the conclusion that most word problems consisted of two statements and a question.  Woohoo!  So we spent a lesson doing shared writing of word problems.  We brainstormed topics for story problems that had to do with picnics.  Then my kiddos were ready to give it a go on their own.   I did help them make corrections to their draft before they recopied it on this sheet.  

Here are is an example of the completed project.

After using the papers with the kids, I modified the size of the printing lines so that two pages would not be needed.  You can get the freebie of this project by clicking here.

4. I just completed my Superhero Math Centers.  You can purchase them through Teachers Pay Teachers by clicking the picture below.

5.  Tonight the whole family is off to the circus tonight to celebrate my baby's 6th birthday.  Where does the time go?!  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My First Big Product! Free for some proofing!

Hey there!  May is one of my favorite times of year.  My two favorite little boys are May babies.  
So I've been working on a big product for Teachers Pay Teachers for a few weeks.  It's inspired by my superhero-loving cuties.  I'm getting ready to post it for sale.  But before I do, I'd love to get someone to proofread it for me and provide some feedback.  I'll send it to you free, if you check it out for me and let me know what you think.  The first person to comment and provide their email address gets the honor of helping me out and the freebie!  

It is a collection of 4 math centers.  Counting Coins (I know, not Common Core, but I still teach it.), It's Superhero Time (time to the hour and half hour), Place Value Pow (tens and ones), and Flashy Facts (addition facts).

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted!

I've been a very bad blogger the past few weeks.  I've started a bunch of posts but never finished anything.  Like everyone else, I'm in the midst of the end of the year craziness... 25 more days!  We are putting on our first grade play in two weeks and I've been busy prepping the kiddos for their stage debut!  It's always SOOOO much work but it's something the kids (and their parents) talk about for years.  I need to take some pictures and post their cuteness.  But I just never remember.  Does anyone have tips on remembering to take pictures during the day?  I get so wrapped up in teaching and monitoring and policing that I forget my camera.  Anyway... enough complaining.  

I'm linking up with LaToya at Flying into First Grade for her famous linky- Let's Get Acquainted!

Linky Questions
1.  What made you decide to become a teacher?

I've always wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember.  My mom recently retired as an elementary school teacher and used to beg her to bring anything and everything home from work so I could play school with all of my dolls and stuffed animals.  She has always been an inspiration to me professionally and it was great that our careers overlapped by 9 years so we could share ideas and experiences (good and bad).  I've been teaching in one way or another since I was 13.  I started as a swimming instructor and sunday school assistant and never doubted what my future held.  I truly LOVE my job and look forward to work (most days, wink!)

2. What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher?

Sorry this is generic, but I think every day as a first grade teacher is the most rewarding.  I live for the moment when it hits them that they can read.  It's great to sit back and say, "Yeah, I did that... I taught another kid to read."  

3. If you were not a teacher, what would you be?

I've gotten injured at various points in my life and always thought I might enjoy being a physical or occupational therapist.  I'd still get to work with people and help them better themselves.

Well, that's all for today.  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Journeys... The secrets to my success!

Two posts in one day... guess I'm on the mend!  I've been asked a lot lately about the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys program.  It seems to be one of the most popular basal reading programs on the market right now.  I'm not going to go back into how I felt two years ago when we began to transition to it from Reading and Writing Workshop.  (click here to read my previous post)  But after fumbling through it for a year, I discovered the wonderful work of Ms. Amy Schwab on Teachers Pay Teachers.   Amy has taken each week's lesson and made a huge SmartBoard file of interactive activities, including videos, sorts, and other learning activities.  If you teach in a district that uses Journeys or is going to, you need to check out her work.  She has completed activities for grades K, 1, & 2.  

Click here to download the Lesson 1 activities for FREE.  You can also get the first lesson of grades K and 2 for FREE.  

I hope this can help anyone else who is feeling like I was...overwhelmed and drowning in Journeys.  I'm throwing you a life preserver!

Down and out... but still feeling appreciated!

Hey there!  Sorry for disappearing for so long.  Like so many others of you out there, I have been juggling far too many balls.  I'm taking back the teaching reins from my student teacher, directing the first grade play, planning and coordinating our field trip, planning a graduation party for my students to throw for our student teacher, serving on our school district's negotiation team, and planning a small family birthday party for my own little super hero's 3rd birthday.  Whew... just typing that exhausted me!  So it's no wonder when I got hit with being sick... but not just any sickness... the dreaded strep throat!  Strep and I have had a hate/hate relationship for years.  I even had it on my wedding day... yup!  Anyway... I've been stuck at home for the past few days waiting for the antibiotics to fight this off!  

So now what's a girl to do... shop!  And it's perfect timing!  TPT is offering their Teacher Appreciation Sale.  Most items are up to 28% off.  Use the code TAD13 at check out.  I'm enjoying the fabulous discount stocking up for the end of this year and beginning of next year.  I'm also celebrating the sale of my very first paid item on TPT.  YAY!!!  I wish I had the time to make more and buy less.  But clicking is much faster than creating.   

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day to all of you!