Monday, January 28, 2013

Kindle! Kindle! Kindle!

I am SO SO excited! This little baby is ALL mine! :)

A little backstory... 

Yesterday was my husband Kelly's work party. They always put on a nice party for their "members" ( aka employees) and this one was no exception. They had it at a place near us called Cran Hill Ranch ( or " Ranchy Hill as my daughter and nephew called it all day...too cute!) They had several different sledding hills, pony rides, rock climbing, ice climbing, marshmallow roasting ( yes, even in winter!) and many other things. In the summer they have more activities. We had never been there before but after yesterday, I am sure we will go again. We had a blast.

After all the sledding we headed over to their banquet hall for lunch and the prize give away. They always make sure that everyone leaves with a prize. They have gift cards and grand prizes. ( At the party this summer my husband won a $25 LOWES gift card and that was the standard prize!) I saw them bringing in some of the prizes when we got there. One that I was eyeing was a carpet cleaner and so I told Kelly to get that one if he drew a grand prize. Well, he did. But before he had gotten called someone else had chosen a Kindle Fire. I looked at the table and there was another one left. I was in a room off the hall and when he went up I shouted " get the Kindle Fire instead" as he was reaching for the carpet cleaner. So he did and I was so excited.

One of my teaching partners and I were talking about how great it would be to have a Kindle in our classroom for the kids to use during station time or as a reward. I knew I would be able to use his Kindle but I didn't know he would let me have it AND use it in my classroom!  He is truly the best!

Today we have a snow day and I am going to spend a large chunk of time playing with it. But my question for you all is this: What apps do you recommend? I was thinking of using it during literacy work stations but I would put any interesting school appropriate apps on it. I also want to put some on for my 3 year old daughter and, of course, any suggestions for me would be appreciated too! :)

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Link up and My Very FIRST Freebies!

So I am linking up again with TEACHING MADDENESS and DOODLEBUGS TEACHING for their Friday linky parties. Click on their names and link up with us!

1. Well the first thing I am sharing is completely not teacher related. Today is the anniversary and mine and my hubby's first date 11 years ago! We were going to go to dinner and a movie with another couple to celebrate but, like a lot of bloggers out there, today's weather was less than travel worthy ( although no early release or snow day here) and so just the two of us went. We had dinner at Ruby Tuesday's ( turkey avocado burger = SO GOOD!) and then did a little shopping before coming home. 
Kelly (aka The Hubs) is laughing in this picture. He doesn't like it, but I look best in this one so this is the one I am using. Haha!

2.  On Monday the kiddo's had no school but the teachers did. We had all day PD on math. The speaker ( David Coffey) gave us an "alien" math problem that we had to solve. He slowly gave us more pieces to it and thankfully one of my grade level partners is ridiculously smart and has a head for those sorts of things. He was able to explain it to us and it definitely made more sense. The whole point of the excersize was to put us in the shoes of our students. This made us see that we really need to give our students time to talk through problems with each other and that we needed to be more explicit in our teaching. 

Each grade level made a poster about what we did, what it meant, and what can we do now. I wish I had taken a picture of the 4th grade teams poster. They had this really funny narrative about their experience. Very clever. 

3. So after that math day I have been trying to give the kiddo's more opportunities to chat with each other about their math. We have been doing some whole brain teaching strategies ( mirror and teach in particular).  I am also working on coming up with a how- to writing for solving a math problem, as our speaker also talked about getting the kids to explain their thinking and also writing, writing, and more writing in math. 

The pictures I have are not of that though, it's of a few of my peanuts during math station time. 

 These are the wrap ups that come with our math curriculum. ( We use Saxon math.) We have a new fact focus every 5 lessons. We start with addition facts and then move to subtraction. When we get there we have these awesome wrap ups to help our students practice their facts. 

On one side are numbers through 0- 13 ( or higher the higher up the number you are subtracting). I call each one a key because its kind of shaped that way. They start with the first number on the key and subtract the large number in the middle from it and pull the string over to the answer. On the back side of the key are raised areas where , if done correctly, the string should match up. When they have answered each one they flip it over and self correct. 

Another thing they LOVE is to play BUMP. I think everyone knows about BUMP, but in case you don't, it involves students rolling dice and then adding ( or multiplying if you teach a higher grade) those numbers together. They use a uni-fix cube to mark their space. Its called BUMP because you can bump your opponents cube off their space if they only have one on the square. They love this game and I change the board out seasonally so it's almost like they have a new game every month. The one they are playing with is from Sunny Days. It is a free item and you can get yours HERE. One of the best things about BUMP is that a lot of them are free, including this little gem here. I get most of my BUMP games from her. 

4. Today we made our winter stained glass. We make these every year. You can check out my original post with instructions HERE. They turned out beautifully I think. 

The final product ( minus the 3 who were absent today). And yes, you can see me in the window. 

5. FINALLY! I am SUPER excited to share with you two freebies! My grade level team and I went through our common core standards during our PLC time in the fall and came up with 5 priority standards. One of them was to retell a story using the main idea and 5 key details in order. Another was to retell a story using story elements. We use Open Court for our reading comprehension program. The tests that they have are not conducive to those priority standards. So I made us some to use. Then I actually got around to putting them on Teachers Pay Teachers today and, do you know the most exciting part?! Each one has already been downloaded 5-6 times! I used a border by Krista Wallden which you can find HERE

NOW! I am obviously a newbie to this. SO if you see something that I should do differently PLEASE let me know. I pretty much figure out this stuff on my own through trial and error. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to figure out how to add a border in the first place and now I have forgotten so I will have to re-teach myself. *Sigh* 

These are the posters that I made to help teach these concepts. We went back and forth with our assessments for awhile so they could get the hang of them. Now we discuss both, but "surprise " them with the one we assess with. To make these I took colored chart paper and laminated it. Nothing too fancy but it gets the job done and I can reuse them. 

You can check out these freebies  HERE!!!!!!!!! 

PHWEW! What a LOOOOOOONG post. It also took me a ridiculous amount of time ( must be the theme for the day) to post this because I was looking up and listening to GLEE performances on youtube at the same time. Oh well, at least it will still really be Friday when I link up. 

Enjoy your weekend bloggy friends!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy, Happy Friday!

Well, this was our first 5 day week after break ( and even before break) and I felt every minute of it! So, I am thankful for the weekend and some time to relax! ( Although not too much relaxing for me, we have plans for the next 3 weekends. Geesh, it makes me tired just thinking about it!)

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday linky party AND Teaching Maddeness for The Friday Flashback. And look at me! Actually getting to it ON a Friday! :)

1. Tuesday we had our Christmas party after having to reschedule it three times. It felt very anti-climactic to me ,but the kid's had a good time. At Christmas time I like to stick with lights and gingerbread men as I feel they are very uncontroversial. I mean who doesn't love a good gingerbread man. :) I found these foam gingerbread men at the dollar store in October and bought them and some foam stickers to decorate with. I thought they would be a fun craft to do at our party as the kiddos could be creative and independent. We did a turkey glyph at our fall party that required WAY too much direction from me. 

 Aside from all the little paper backs to the foam stickers it also fulfilled another party requirement of mine...little mess! :)

 Aaaaannnnnd then I broke that requirement by frosting and sprinkling cookies. The kids had fun ,but our poor janitor! :)

2. I recently purchased Swimming Into 2nd Grade's Winter Wonderland Literacy Centers for use during station time. You can check it out HERE AT TPT. This is one of my peanuts at our pocket chart station matching up synonyms.  

 3. Speaking of station time, one of my Literacy Work Stations is the computer station. Our school has purchased a subscription to Reading A to Z for the second year in a row. I really love using it for my guided reading groups. One of my teaching partners started using the Raz Kids portion of it this year and then showed me how to set my kids up on it. Let me tell you, they are OBSESSED! I will admit it's pretty cool. They listen to and then practice reading leveled stories. Then they take quizzes on them. For each listen, read through, and quiz taken they earn points which can be used to " purchase" things for their spaceship. 

This is one of my peanuts listening to her story. I thought I had gotten a good picture of the spaceship to share and I did. However, I got her name ( first and last) in it and didn't want to be posting that! So I'll add that to next week's Friday post. :) 

4. Today we finished the last of our Christmas-y festivities. When they came in this morning they each had a present to open at their seat. I always get my kiddo's books for Christmas. I order from Scholastic so it's a double win for us. They get an awesome book and I get bonus points to get more awesome books for our room!
Isn't this wrapping paper ADORABLE! I used it last year too and I think I have enough to use it again next year too! :)

Then this afternoon we combined the 3 classes and gave them a choice of watching The Polar Express, Finding Nemo, or comfy reading. We usually do this on the Friday before break but the darn snow days kept us from it. It is always so magical to be in the library, with the twinkling lights on and the kiddo's in their jammies, watching The Polar Express on the last day before break. Watching it today was still fun but lacking some of its magic. I really feel like I should be going on Christmas break again! 

5.  This is what I am working on this weekend. I got a bunch of picture frames for Christmas and have a HUGE pile of pictures I want to frame. My goal is to turn my dining room table back into a place for eating and get all of those pictures framed AND hung. 
PS: If you are wondering why there is a knife on my table it is for opening and closing the little backing tabs on the picture frames. :)

There are my 5. Link up HERE and HERE and have a GREAT week! 


Saturday, January 12, 2013

5 for Friday and I'm Back!

Well! Its been a LONG time since I posted. As you know (because I mention it in every other post), I super LOVE Christmas and I get really involved in decorating at home and in my classroom, planning fun activities for my family and my " teaching kids" as my 3 year old calls them, and lots and lots of wrapping! Needless to say, the blog got put by the wayside in all of that. I meant to at least do Farley's Currently, buuuuut obviously didn't. :) Several of the blogs I follow were doing this fun linky about our week's and while it is now Saturday and not Friday, I thought I would link up too. :) You can link up HERE

Last week was our first week back after our Christmas break. I was preparing myself for a lot of behavior and rules review but my kiddo's came back like they had only been gone for a weekend! It was a great way to come back! Before break we had 2 snow days, so we missed out on our Christmas party and our PJ day/ Comfy Reading day. They were both scheduled for yesterday ( Friday) BUT, we had ANOTHER snow (ice) day. Poor kids. :( Hopefully we can reschedule all of that stuff for next week and it can ACTUALLY happen!

Thing number 1 I HAVE to share is that I got a laminator for Christmas! I am SO excited. My super awesome hubby ALWAYS does a good job with my gifts and this year was no exception. I squealed so loud when I opened it, and then promptly made him take a picture of me with it to brag about on Facebook to all my teacher friends. There was much jealousy. :)

This is me and the peanut with our piles of loot to open. :)

2. This week we have been hard at work on adding 2 digit numbers with regrouping. Our curriculum really covers it hard for several days but I purchased Amy Lemons' DOUBLE DIGIT ADDITION PACK as an extension activity to use my kiddo's. On Friday we were going to do a sort of " write the room" with math problems instead. Buuuuuuut, see the above, that didn't happen. I'll post pics of it when we do get to it. :)

3. I am also working on finishing my very first FREEBIE!!! to put on TPT. Technically it is ready, but I wanted to "juj" it up a little bit so I am going to put a couple of cute borders around them and then I will post them. They are for summarizing/retelling and story elements.  Hope to have those ready by this Friday. 

 4. Thursday we went on a scavenger hunt that we were supposed to have before break. I got the idea from Fun in First Grade. It was supposed to be a back to school activity but I modified it. I used the clues that she came up with but used a different book. You can see the clues HERE. I used the book Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett since she was the author that we were studying for the month of December. 

FIFG said that Little Debbie made a gingerbread man cookie. The store that I went to did not carry them, so I decided to just use my gingerbread man cookie cutter and sugar cookie dough that I flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg. 

After we got done reading the story I told the kid's I had a gingerbread treat for them. Then I had them each get a napkin and put it at their seat. They were salivating. :) I made a big show out of getting the tin from my desk and opening it. Inside of it was the first clue. Their eyes got SO big when I had that in my hand instead of a cookie for them. Our first clue took us to the library. I had it worked out with Mrs. V, our librarian, to take the tin that actually had the cookies upstairs and put them out at their seats (hence the napkin) after we had visited her. The clues took us all over the place and they very quickly got each clue. I had our principal, secretaries, lunch ladies, and specials teacher's in on it. When we got back to our room Mrs. V. had crumbled one up a little leading into our room. It was great. The fact that I was with them the whole time made it quite magical for them. They kept saying over and over " How did these get here!?" It was so great and I am glad I did it. We will DEFINITELY be doing this again next year. 

5. And last thing,  today I got my hair cut. It was driving me nuts and I love me a good stacked bob. :) 

So, there are my 5. I am hoping to be more on top of things now and post more regularly...maybe even get to a Fab Five on an actual Friday! :)