Monday, April 29, 2013

Wham, Bam - Thank You Instagram...

Hey Everybody - 

As you can tell, this blog of mine has taken a back seat to...

Baseball practice
Soccer practice
More cleaning {muddy fields are wreaking havoc on my house!!!!}...

That's why I LOVE Instagram...I can post a photo...just like that and give you a little glimpse of what's going on in my classroom {and sometimes in my life outside of the classroom ... <gasp> ... I DO have a life - it's true!}

So the gals over at What the Teacher Wants and Apples and ABC's are hosting a weekly party Instagram-style every Tuesday.  Just post your pics and use the hashtag: #teachertalktuesday in your description.

Don't worry if you're wondering what all this hype is about with teacher bloggers {and non bloggers for that matter - teachers everywhere - let's UNITE and post classroom happenings on Instagram} on Instagram - I didn't get the hullabaloo about it either...but it's really fun.  You just open up the Instagram App, snap a picture, pretty it up {My photos never looked so good} and post it.  You can look around too, like people's photos and maybe add a little comment if you're so inclined.  It's simple and random and I'm all about that.

If you're not a blogger you can still check out Teacher Talk Tuesday and find your favorite bloggers on Instagram, follow them and enjoy little snippets from their day...

You can even follow me on your computer - just click the pic!
Here are some of my current faves...

Such an awesome read aloud.  Our school participated in One School,  One Book!

My new table top easel...LOVE!!!!

Pattern block reflections in math workplaces last week...
See what you missed!!!!!  

Oh, just one more...

Rainbows - thanks Caitlin!!!
Here's the spring acrostic poem paper I used if you want it...

Fonts: Cupcake for the Teacher, Clipart: Creative Clips
Download in Google Drive
Hope you had a great start to your kiddos are still in full-on full moon mode...

Hardy, har, har...


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Brain Breaks and Body Signals

Hey There!

I hope you all had a great week.  Mine?  Was the world's longest.  I'm not quiet sure why that was - but man, did it EVER d r a g!

I think it might have had something to do with the rain, the cold as well as Boston and Texas.  My heart really does go out to each and everyone of you and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. 

I was just going to ask you all if you have figured out my teaching style by following me on my blog...but then I thought about that.  I'm not sure I could say that I know my own teaching style.  I think I am a chameleon ... sort of ... kind of.  I'm rigid in some areas and super flexible in others.  I'm organized in a lot of ways and a hot mess in others {I've got a closet that would curl your nose hairs}. Mostly, I'm who I need to be, when I need to be.

One thing that I'm pretty consistent with is encouraging my kiddos to listen to their body signals and give their body what it needs.  From the way that I "run" my Daily 5 where I ask them to listen to their "body signals" to helping my kiddos "find their pace".  Think about the life skills you give your kiddos when you teach them how to self regulate.

So, this week we've been a little off.  Indoor recess will do that to you.  Combine that with a mighty rigorous curriculum and you'll catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror...right around Friday...and realize you only put mascara on one set of eyelashes...

To keep each one of us sane this week we took many a brain break.  I have a bunch of my videos/songs bookmarked, but it seems like I'm constantly Googling to find this one or that one, or I bookmarked it on this computer but not that one.  I finally put some of my favorites in a document that I'll save on both desktops in my classroom so it will always be there hand dandy-like.  I thought you might like it too...

Click pic to grab a copy!

The document is a list of songs that I use in the classroom along with the hyperlinks.  I just want to remind you to always watch the videos before playing - you just never know how the links may change and certain advertisements might not be the most appropriate.  I always turn off the projector that I display the videos on so that I can see if there are ads and then wait so that I can "skip ad"...last thing you need is to explain to your little ones what Viagra is. 

Here's our newest favorite...

One of my kiddos asked a great question on Friday.  He wondered why we some of our brain breaks are calm ones and some we jump around and dance.  We had a chance to talk about our little "engines" and that sometimes they are running super fast, like after recess.  So we'd need to focus on our breathing, do our brain gym and find our pace, put our heads down and chillax so that we can do big learning.

Then there are times that we've been working so hard and listening for so long that our eyes are everywhere but on our teacher.  Our shoes have been tied and untied a million times, and we've fallen out of our chair more than a few times. Little wondering man interrupted saying "THAT'S when we have to dance and jump around to get our sillies out"...yup, you guessed it little man, you guessed it.

Happy weekend!!!!!

P.S.  Did you notice my new cute "pin it" button? {do a little hover over one of my pictures} Thanks Tessa for that cuteness!

Friday, April 12, 2013


Happy {Five for} Friday!

Today was one crazy day.  Ever wake up and you just know you have WAY too much planned and going on for one day?  That was today. I took on WAY too much...

Will you have a pity party for me?  Just for a second?  Today was Chai Tea Friday and I didn't have time to stop for one.  A moment of silence please.'s party time, Friday Five style...

I love my class this year - I really, really do.  My boys can be silly.  You're shocked, right?  I have been putting off adding this word ALL year.  We can't even read it in a story without giggles.  How was I going to highlight this word, do word wall aerobics with this word, and have them spell and say this word countless times?  I can't put it off any longer. I have to bite the bullet next week.  Wish me luck.  It's in the plans...{I planned my whole week today...crazy, huh?}

We were reviewing sentences this week in guided reading.  I was giving examples of the various sentences...when I started a sentence, "Mrs. W's hair is...." I paused just a bit too long, I guess, because a little cutie pie decided to finish my sentence for me ..."sorta grey".  Is it time to wash that grey right outta my hair?

Yesterday's magic word left me with a hankerin' for some sweets by the end of the day.  We had an unusually energetic one after three days of indoor recess...I used this word often.

 We made story grammar cubes!  I don't know where I found these...I could make some one day to offer you, except I'm pretty sure the geometry behind that madness might just be more than I can handle.  You should have seen us putting them together.  It wasn't pretty.

I picked mine up from Lesson Plans SOS {freebie}

We're getting hot and heavy into Common Core.  I'm dabbling in stating our learning goal {target}.  I'm taking small steps.  I have always told the kids what we were going to learn in each lesson - but stating the learning goal explicitly and having it on display and referring to it throughout the lesson kept us all on track.  I think I like it!

And I will leave you with this...I got the biggest chuckle out of it.  Let me say, if my own little guys saw this on t.v., I don't think I'd be all that thrilled.  But...{there's that word} you've got to admit, it's pretty cleverly done... {Hope this doesn't offend you!!!!}

Happy weekend!!!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Am I the Only One?

Hey Everybody!
I've had some time {It's spring break!} to think about different practices or routines around my classroom.  Then I started to wonder if I'm a little different?

One routine that I found myself mulling over was what my kids do when they first come into the classroom.  I know many teachers do "bell work" or "morning work" but I don't. I don't for a reason.

My first graders have a lot of "jobs" they have to take care of in the morning before they finally sit down at their desks.  They have to...

*Take of all their winter gear - hang it up neatly or should I say "neatly"?
*Put their reading zippies in their bookshelves {They bring home books each night and bring them back each morning and place them in their plastic magazines holders - i.e. "bookshelves"}
*Place their lunchboxes in the lunchbox bin
*Library books in the library bin
*Check their take home folder and put any items for the teacher in the "home notes bin" and any homework they might have had in the "shining work box"
*If they have a "before announcement job" they need to do that {i.e. jobs on our calendar - add a stick, add a dot, add a square {all different visual models for how many days we've been in school}, change the date, check the weather, etc.}

Then they sit down and chat.  Yeah, they chat. Quietly {pretty much} and I have them do that on purpose. 

It's only for about two minutes by the time the get all of their morning jobs done and before I turn on the t.v. to watch our morning announcements - but the quicker you get your morning stuff done, the more time you have to "chat at the water cooler".

I've really embraced the notion of emulating real life in my classroom whenever I can.  From the way it looks {cozy lamp, anyone?} to the way it smells {lavender or green apple...mmmm}, to the way it feels {pillows, couches, wiggle seats...}. Long before we were asked to state our learning goal, I was stating our learning goal.  I've also tried to relate what we're learning guessed it...real life.  I like for kids to know they will actually use what they are learning in the "real world".

I think, after seeing Kathy Collins at a conference where she shared a story about her friend/mentor Debbie Miller, I REALLY embraced fostering "real life" in my classroom.  Debbie Miller had asked how often do you finish a story, close up the book, and turn to your significant other asking for a shoebox and scissors because you needed to get started on your diorama.  Never?

What does that have to do with chatting with your classmates rather than getting right down to business with a sponge activity?  When I get to work I like to chat.  It all starts in the parking lot, I usually will walk and talk with  a colleague...just catching up...what'd you do last night?  Any plans for the weekend?  Small talk.  Then I stop by the office, chat up a secretary or two.  Then I walk past "the kitchen" - that's my second grade neighbor's classroom.  She's "the kitchen" of our school.  Lots of chatting, venting and problem solving go on in "the kitchen". 

After I get all caught up, {my social needs are satisfied} I'm ready to move some mountains. I'm ready to get 'er done!

I figure my students are the same way.  It might only be two or three minutes ...maybe five if you were efficient with those darn snow pants!!! - but at least they were given the opportunity to be social {let's face it - first graders are mighty social creatures}...

...and now you can hunker down.  And they do!

I wonder if I'm the only one?  Am I missing some crucial minutes to get some review under their belts?  Should I rethink my thinking?  What are your thoughts?

On a different note...

I wanted to send you over to a couple of giveaways {after you comment here, of course!}...

Kathy is having a great giveaway - and you could win any item from my store - among other cool stuff!

Leigh is having an awesome giveaway to celebrate her bloggy makeover! You might win my nonfiction writing unit - or, you guessed it, some other cool stuff!
You really can't leave until you tell me I'm not the only one.  Okay, I guess you don't have to say that - because you really don't have to agree with me if you don't want to.  I just want to know your thoughts!  When do you allow for chatting - pure, social, for no other reason but to chat - chatting in your classroom?  Do you think it's important?
Thanks bunches!
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