Saturday, September 27, 2014

Making Connections

Oh my.  It's been quite a while since I posted.  I have good intentions.  I even have some ideas to share.  It's just a matter of sitting down and getting those ideas out that I'm struggling with.  Ya'll, the struggle is real.  There's just never enough time to get everything done on that to-do list.  Sometimes I just want to sit and do nothing.  But I can't even manage to do that!
 
This is how I feel at the end of every day:
 
and this is how I feel by Friday:
 
Today I'm sharing with you some books and activities for teaching children how to make connections with literature.  As an adult, this is an easy task.  But for children, especially those with a limited vocabulary and experiences, it's often a difficult task to comprehend.  As a teacher, right from the beginning, we have to model this skill for our students.  As we bring their attention to what we are looking for, the majority of the children will naturally pick up this skill. For those children that still aren't understanding, more modeling and practice will be needed in small groups.
 
Today I want to share with you 2 books that can be used for teaching students how to make connections.  First up is Wemberly Worried.
 
http://www.amazon.com/Wemberly-Worried-Kevin-Henkes/dp/0061857769/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409525511&sr=8-1&keywords=wemberly+worried+by+kevin+henkes
 
Let me just say first that I love Kevin Henkes books.  I love that you can use them for teaching so many different skills.  As a young child, and an adult, I can totally relate to Wemberly.  I tend to worry ALL the time.   And at the beginning of a new school year, I think that all children worry a little bit about something.  That's why this particular book is a such a great choice for teaching children how to make connections.  Prior to reading, you can set the stage by reading the title and asking the children what they think the word "worried" means.  After hearing all of their answers, you can then clarify their answers with your intended answer and give an example. 
 
"Boys and girls, today we are going to read a book about a little mouse who always worries.  When we worry about something it means we are a little bit afraid of what might happen to us.  For example:  When I was little,  I was worried about starting back to school because I didn't know if any of my friends would be in my class.  As you listen to me read this book, I want you to think about a time when you were worried about something."
 
Throughout the book it will be very important to stop and model how to make those connections with the text.  On one page, Wemberly looks up a huge tree and says that she is worried that it might fall on her house.  I can model how to make a connection with that page by saying, "This reminds me about a time when I was little.  There was a big tree outside of my bedroom window just like the one in the book.  When it stormed I always worried, like Wemberly, that the tree would fall on my room."  After modeling a few times, you will have lots of children ready to share lots of their very own connections!  At the end of the book, you can even have the children "turn and talk" with their partner about a time they worried about something.
 
To finish up, I created a little flip flap book for students to respond to the story with.  My children love flip flap books and they are a great way to engage students with what they have read.  All they need to do is fold the paper in half (I tell my kids to make a hamburger fold), make a tent with the folded paper (so they won't cut both sides of the paper), and then cut the line up the middle.  Easy peasy.  You can click here to download this freebie.
 

 
I also created some conversation starter cards that you can use to prompt students when talking about making connections with the text.  You can click here to download them.
 
 
Another great book for teaching children how to make connections is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
 
http://www.amazon.com/Alexander-Terrible-Horrible-Good-Very/dp/0689711735/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409527408&sr=8-1&keywords=alexander+and+the+terrible+horrible+no+good+very+bad+day+by+judith+viorst
 
We all have bad days, no matter how old we are.  And children can relate very easily to Alexander and all of his troubles!  Again, with a little teacher modeling, students are sure to make those connections with the text.  Pairing children up to "turn and talk"  also allows for those who may be a little shy to share to open up and talk about their connections without fear of making a mistake or being wrong.
 
After reading and discussing the book, you can follow up with a response sheet.  You can click here to download it for free.
 


Hope you are enjoying this first weekend of Fall.  It has done nothing but rain here for over a week now.  The weather forecast shows no sign of relief either.  We've still got more rain coming our way for the beginning of the week.  Fun.  More inside recess.  Gotta love it!
 
 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Room Reveal!

So we have been in school 12 days now.  We have had some good days, and, some bad days.  I have a  good class, and they have improved in just this short period of time, but listening is just not their strength!  They can tell me about all about what they need to do to be a good listener, but most fall short of doing what they say.  We'll get there, hopefully!
 
I finally have gotten around to taking pictures of my classroom to share with you.  It's been on one of my many to-do lists for awhile.  I had so many pieces of paper sitting around my computer.  Crazy.  I finally just took all of them and consolidated them into one BIG to-do list.  Although that has made it easier to keep adding to it.  Not exactly what I need at this point!
 
Onto my room......
 
Please excuse my blank bulletin boards.  I did add some things to them yesterday, after I had already taken the pictures.  I like to explain what I post on the boards to my class first.  If I don't, then the board doesn't mean anything to them at all.  This little corner is going to my writing area.  I'm going to introduce it to my class this week.  I hope it becomes an area that my students like to visit and use.

 This is a shot of my class from the door.  I have 3 groups of 6 students.  I started the first day with 2 groups of 9.  Did. Not. Work.  I changed them immediately after the second day.  My kids like to talk and while I loved the space that I had with only 2 groups, I knew my sanity was way more important than the extra space!
 

This is my focus board.  I'm trying very hard to make this board meaningful to my kids.  But at this point, they really aren't paying to much attention to it.  I'm hoping to use this shelf for my work on words activities.  We aren't there yet, so they are empty at the moment.  We are a PBIS school.  So on the wall that you see I have our school rules posted along with our "Pelican Pockets" where my students keep their pelican bucks.
 

Love my door this year.  I found this little bit of inspiration on Pinterest.  You can click here to find it.  My oldest daughter actually made Pete for me.  I think she did a really great job!
 
This little shelf houses my "morning menu" activities, activities that my kids can choose from after they finish their morning work.  The baskets on top are for finished work and writing paper.

This is the back of my room.  I'm loving the new fabric on my seat crates.  I cleaned the top of the table off just for the picture.  So far it has been a catch-all for just about everything!
 
This is the front of my room where we meet all together.  I'm loving my new rugs from Wal-Mart.  They are just the right size and add the perfect pop of color to the room.

 This corner houses my classroom library.  I have all intentions of adding pictures of my kids to the circles on the wall.  Haven't quite made that a priority though.  It's one of those things that is at the bottom of my to-do list.  I've been thinking about just adding pictures of different book characters to them instead.  After all, it is our library.
 
 This is my listening center.  I bought the stools from Ikea last year and they are still holding up very well.
 
This is my computer area and my desk.  Ignore the mess underneath.  It's where I have taken to throwing things when I don't want to take the time to deal with it!

This is my group area.  Can't wait till I can start pulling groups and REALLY get into a structured schedule.  On top of the table I have squares of dry erase contact paper.  I can't wait to try this out!  I hope it works.

Cubbies for my kids and where they hang their bookbags.  I plan to hang our Daily 5 anchor charts up above them after I finish introducing all of the components.

 My math manipulative shelf.  On top you will find books that go along with our theme for the week.  I love it when my kids notice these books and make connections with them.  I love it even more when they go to the library and check out books like the ones  I have displayed for them.

Above my Smartboard you will find my "5 Things to Think About" posters.  These are the rules and expectations we go over every day.  On my board you will find our high frequency words, magic words, and power words for the week.  In the corner you will find my little reading center.  I keep a basket of different kinds of books and magazines there for my students to read.  I also keep our class books there too.

Our Wonderful Work board where I display our work.

In the back you will find my bookshelf where I keep all of my books. 


Another picture of my group meeting area.  I'm loving that I have space for my materials that I will use for groups.  I bought 3 little baskets from the Dollar Tree and labeled them with signs that  I made.  I plan to keep the materials that I will need for each group in them.  I hope this will keep me more organized this year with my groups.
 
And finally, my Wall of Wow. 

Loving the clothes pins this year.  Makes it so much easier to change out the papers!
 
If you want to see some other classroom reveals, head on over to Just a Primary Girl's blog to visit her Setting Up Success linky party.  In fact, go link up yourself and share your own classroom reveal pictures.
 
http://justaprimarygirl.blogspot.com/2014/08/setting-up-success-classroom-pictures.html

Monday, September 1, 2014

Currently!

Happy September 1! 
As sad as I am about summer ending, I am starting to get very excited about Fall and all things Fall.  I'm loving all the pumpkin stuff I'm seeing out in the stores and I'm VERY excited about having a Pumpkin Spice Latte very soon!  Wal-Mart has even started consolidating their BTS aisles and making them over with all things Fall and Halloween.  I talked myself out of buying the enormous bag of candy corn when I was shopping yesterday.  I really wanted it.  Maybe I'll go back.  Is it to early for candy corn?!
 
I'm linking up with Farley today to share with you what's "Currently" going on.  I'm loving that September 1 fell on Labor Day this year.  It's so nice to have a day off to relax, recoup, and regroup for the next coming weeks. 
 
 
Listening.  Annoying sound of the washing machine.  What else can I say?  It's a never ending cycle!
 
Loving.  It was the first weekend for college and high school football.  My daughter is in high school this year so we went to her school's first game Friday night.  They played against my husband's high school alma mater.  We had a great time cheering on our "new" team.  What made it even more exciting was seeing all the young men on the team that I taught many years ago as four year olds.    Loved it!  Love even more that all the pumpkin stuff is starting to appear everywhere.  It will be awhile down here in the South before we get any cooler weather, but it's nice to think about!
 
Thinking.  I'm glad that I have this extra day to work on school stuff.  I have so many lists of things that I need to do and I keep adding to them.  I know it's like this at the beginning of every year.  But that doesn't make it any easier!
 
Wanting.  I want to get caught up and stay CAUGHT up!  That's all.  Enough said.
 
Needing.  I really wish I could have someone come and cook for my family every night.  It wouldn't have to be anything fancy, just something home cooked.  It would really take the pressure off of trying to figure out what to fix and getting home in time to make it.  I really need to check Pinterest out for some crock pot meals.  I guess a crock pot is more realistic than a chef at this point!
 
3 trips.  My husband and I have been talking about taking a little trip to NYC.  And we would love to take the girls to Washington, DC.  NYC during the Christmas season sounds like so much fun!  Our anniversary was back in July and we really didn't do anything for it. 
We are hoping to take a little weekend getaway sometime soon.  I would love to visit St. Simon's Island in GA.  It looks like such a beautiful place!
 
So what are you up to currently?  Head on over to Farley's and link up!
 
Happy Labor Day friends!  Enjoy your day!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Be the Difference

Last month I received an email from The Mailbox Magazine asking me to participate in their #BeTheDifference sweepstakes.  I was thrilled and honored at receiving this invitation because I "grew up" as a teacher reading this fabulous publication.  The Mailbox magazine was there before Pinterest, blogs and TpT.  It was THE one stop shop for finding ideas for your classroom.  I remember as a new teacher checking the library out each month for the newest edition.  I always wanted to get my hands on it first!  On the weekends I would take home all the back issues and spend hours reading and making plans to copy all the wonderful activities that were included.  Hence my excitement about  being asked to participate in this great #BeTheDifference movement.
 
I was excited about the invitation, but I was even more thrilled when The Mailbox magazine sent me a box of goodies in the mail!  My girls were even excited to find out what was inside.
 
Isn't that just the cutest box?!
 
Here's what I found.
You can't really see, but there was a pencil, flashdrive, and a beach ball inside the box.  Everything was wrapped up so special.   Loved everything about it!  There was also a card inside explaining the #BeTheDifference movement.  Here's a quote from the card that really got my attention: "AS A TEACHER, we know you wake up early, work all day, and stay up late planning for the next day.  It's finally time to "show-and-tell" about all the hard work you do!"  They get it.  They know and understand what teachers do everyday and they RECOGNIZE it too. 
 
So what is the #BeTheDifference movement all about?  Well, to start with, the contents of my box were especially chosen by The Mailbox with one thing in mind, memories.  Back to school memories.  The Mailbox knows just how important those first few days are for establishing routines and procedures, making special memories, and forming bonds with our new students.  They know how hard we work to plan for those days so that we can make wonderful memories for our students.  Memories that will stay for a long time.  Memories that will make a difference.  The Mailbox wants teachers to go out and "BeTheDifference" in our classrooms this year. 
 
How did I make a memories on the first day of school?  I used a beach ball!  During our morning meeting time, we used the beach ball to introduce ourselves and tell what our favorite things were.  My first graders loved it!  They loved everything about passing and tossing the ball to their new classmates.  We learned how to work together, listen, speak, and share all in one simple little activity.  I got to set the tone for our class and our classroom expectations in a fun and engaging way.  And, they got to get up and move!  I was thrilled that I got to "#BeTheDifference" on their first day of first grade.
 
#BeTheDifference

#BeTheDifference

#BeTheDifference
 
We have the awesome ability to impact our students each and every day.  Our first job is to teach them everything that our curriculum demands.  But we also know that our job goes way beyond that.  We know that there are so many other things we teach them as well.  We teach them to be bucket fillers, to accept diversity, and to find the good in what we have around us.  We set out to inspire those who may not have the hope to see that they can achieve anything they want.  We have the power to #BeTheDifference.  Please join me in this wonderful movement as we all begin a fresh, new year together.  Challenge yourself this year to #BeTheDifference with your students, your colleagues, and your community.
 
Tell me how you are going make a difference this year.  I would love to know!  Leave a comment  below and I will reward 1 winner with $10 to spend in my TpT store.  I will choose a winner next Friday.
 
#BeTheDifference

Monday, August 18, 2014

Teacher Week: Who

Oh Y'all!  It's the night before the first day of school.  I'm already exhausted and overwhelmed.   And, I'm starting to battle some sort of sinus headache from you know where.  I should be working on my daily schedule right now, but that really takes to much effort and I just can't spare any right now!  So instead, I'm going to tell you a little bit about me!
 
I'm married.  And have been for 17 years now.  Mr. M and I just celebrated our anniversary back in July.  July happens to be a big month for our family.  Not only is it our anniversary month, but a big birthday month too!  My birthday, Mr. M's birthday, and my oldest daughter's birthday are all in July (Mr. M and Kaley's birthday are a day a part!).  My husband's sister and her husband also have a  birthday in July.  And, their son has a birthday in July too.  His birthday is actually the same day as Kaley's (she is a year older).  And my brother's birthday is in July too.  He and I actually share a birthday because we are twins!  I told you July was a big month for us!!!!!
 
Me and Mr. M
 
Along with being a wife, I'm also a mom.  I have 2 girls who give me a run for my money every day!  They are both energetic, smart, creative, funny, and beautiful.  I'm so blessed to be able to call them mine.  My oldest starts high school tomorrow.  I'm so not ready for that!  My youngest will be in the 4th grade.  If she had it her way, she would be starting high school tomorrow too!
 
My girls
 
Along with being a mom to my girls, I'm also a mom to our fur child Bella.  Sweet Bella.  She thinks she's one of the girls and loves attention.  She is always at my side.  She's a rotten thang!  But we love her to pieces and you just can't beat the love she shows us when we get home every afternoon!
 
Bella
 
This will be my 20th year of teaching.  20 years!!!!!!!  The way I feel right now though, you wouldn't know it.  I feel like tomorrow is my very first day ever!  I've got myself a bad case of the jitters. 
 
 
Over the years I've really learned how to truly reflect on each day.  That's how I've become the teacher that I am.  But reflecting on one's self and having feelings of inadequacy before school has even started are not the same thing.  Do any of you do that?  Second guess yourself about everything?  I found these verses on one of my Pinterest boards.  I found them rather fitting so I thought I would share them with you.  I'm going to pull my strength from them this week.
 

 
 
So to finish up, here are a few of my favorite things:
 
 
 
Disney World!
 
 
Starbucks!
 
 
 
Love me some NCIS!
 
 
 
The beach!
 
Sweet (secret) messages from my kiddos!
 
 
 And last, I leave you with these thoughts:
 


 
 
Head on over to Blog Hoppin', link up, and share a little bit about you!
 
http://imbloghoppin.blogspot.com/2014/08/teacher-week-who.html