Monday, September 16, 2013


After reading Llama Llama Hoppity-Hop about 28 times tonight with my toddler before bed (our all time favorite bedtime story... I could seriously recite it for you now)......
I realized I feel a lot like the title.  I feel as though all I have been doing lately is a bunch of Hoppity-Hops! However, after a talk with my beloved co-worker and friend, Sam, tonight I am feeling much more hopeful about this school year.  I feel as though our days are so rush, rush, rush that the sense of community and family that I have usually completely established by now, is not there..... and if I am being completely honest, that is NOT ok with me!

That was not the point of tonight's post though.  Enough with my whiny posts here lately!  I shared briefly in a post after school started about "new student" bags.  I didn't snag any pictures, but I have since managed to successful put them together and even remembered to snap a few shots!
I have everything I need to get through the day when a new student arrives so I will not be scrambling and scrounging to find everything.  Plus, I won't have to worry about stopping everything as I am scrambling and scrounging either!   
What's in the bag?
Take Home Folder (already labeled)
Writer's Notebook (complete with materials to get it started quickly)
Labels for folders and journals
Welcome Letter
Clip Chart Letter
Student Info Form
Transportation Form

It didn't take long to get these babies together and let me tell you, they save my life when that new baby comes to the door!  Not to mention it makes it look like I've got my stuff together, too! :)

I hope your week is off to a good start, I will leave you with this:
Katie King from Queen of the First Grade Jungle posted this quote on her Instagram tonight.  It really resonated with me, especially since it was a tough Monday.  Hope it inspires you! :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Year of Many Changes

Every year brings change, some more than others.  This year at our school, to say that we've had a lot of changes would be a bit of an understatement.  Three weeks in, you would think I would be adjusted, but I'm still far from it.  We have added a school wide morning spiral time for English Language Arts and Math.  This is about 45 minutes if you include unpacking & morning announcements.  I love the idea, especially because it gives us an opportunity to drill some of the areas we didn't get to cover as well,  hit areas kids are still struggling on, and give an overall good review for ALL of our kids.  After that we have a 30 minute intervention time for our students reading below grade level.  In the past this has been something we do first thing when the kids arrive in the morning, however due to students being late we often times had the ones who needed it most missing out.  While we haven't yet started this time, I have started "training" all of my kids about what they are expected to do during this time if they are in the classroom (something else that is new).  Our goal is to have ALL kids reading & doing activities with their books during this 30 minute chunk of time.  Thus far, we have been using Reading A-Z and some of their comprehension & extending activities to go along with it.  So far so good, but it has been a lot of prep work, A LOT!

We have also started to lend ourselves (the entire school) to the guided math model.  If you haven't heard of it or are interested in learning more about, I suggest the book Guided Math in Action.
I started reading this book this summer and am really excited to get started with my small groups.  The hardest part for me is alloting enough time for my math block since so much of my day is already gone because of morning spiral and intervention time.   Basically, we will do a whole group lesson, small group or independent practice, and then move into math centers while I am pulling small groups to work with.  The small groups will vary when it comes to what I am working on each group with.  For my low babies, I will be working on basic number recognition and fluency.  For my higher ones we will be doing more problem solving.  With all of this though, they will be expected to share and talk about what they are thinking and how they got their answer/solution.  Getting students to explain their thinking is extremely difficult, hopefully through guided math students will feel more comfortable in explaining their thinking.

Is anyone else doing the guided math model in their classroom?  I would love to hear suggestions and how you make it all work! :) 

In addition to all this, I mentioned that I had some news to share in my last post.  You may or may not remember me saying that I had 24 babies in my class.  Yikes-e-wowa!  Since all of our classes were above the 22:1 ratio, we officially opened up a new section of 2nd grade.  This means that all 6 sections that we currently had, lost 1-4 kids to this new class.  Being that tomorrow starts week 4, it is a hard transition for teachers, students, but I think mostly for parents.  I have no doubt that gal we hired is going to be amazing!  She has reminded me of things I used to do and need to get back into the habit of!  I am excited for some fresh and new energy, especially since she is right next door to me & I will be mentoring her!  I am also kind of psyched about having a smaller class!   It is amazing the number of space that is added when 3 kids are moved!

Like I said, this is the year of many changes.  I'm crossing my fingers that things will settle down & start to smooth out SOON!  I am ready for some normalicy, again!  I really miss being able to create and with all of the things that have been going on, I haven't had the time or energy!  I have started an interactive book about maps & continents (2 different ones)... ehhh about 2 weeks ago!  I am excited to hopefully get them done this week so they are ready for me to use within the next 2 weeks! :)

Now that I'm done sharing that spiel, here is at my last week through anchor charts!  I loved when Lindsay from For the Love of First Grade shared hers this way, I had to do the same!  Especially since I never manage to have time or remember to take pictures during the day.  
 In writing, we began actually WRITING!!! We talked about how all stories need a beginning, middle, and end.  Day 1 I drew the pictures while telling my story, please don't judge my drawings, these were sitting sideways on the rocking chair, gotta get through the mini lesson quick drawings.  Day 2 I used my pictures to start writing my story, and day 3 I introduced the green editing crayon.  {Check out this post for more about editing crayons} When I wrote my story I purposely misspelled words, didn't capitalize, used incorrect verb tense, and missed punctuation.  I try to not reinvent the wheel for EVERY.SINGLE. lesson.  It works out great & the kids really seem to get it better!
Two weeks ago we began working on our STAMINA!  Initially our goal was 5 minutes, day 1-3 were tough, but on day 4 they rocked it with 10 minutes!  Some days are better than others, but I am super proud of how hard these kids have been working!  So last week I introduced buddy reading!

 They especially love using their questioning spinner they added to their reader's notebook that they use after reading their book to check each for understanding.  Of course, I didn't snap a picture of that, but it is from Deanna Jump's Interactive Reader's Notebook.  I strongly suggest this unit!
In social studies, we continued talking about being good citizens, specifically historical figures that were good citizens.  We studied Thurgood Marshall, Abigail Adams, and Sojourner Truth this week.  After we studied each person, students added interesting facts to their social studies notebook about each person. 

 This week, we have our parent orientation.  If you haven't checked out the Hey You! Parent Reminders from Teacher to the Core, you should!! I'm obsessed, I also love the Student Shout Outs she has available!!  I couldn't resist buying both! :)

I will leave you with this, advice I try to remind myself quite often, especially here lately!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Playing Catch-Up

Sometimes I feel like playing catch up is the story of my life!  Seriously, I had some plans ... on several days last week to blog ... and then life happened.  I applaud all of the bloggers out there that manage to get their posts in multiple times a week, while working full time, and tending to their family!  After getting up at 5ish (I use ish very lightly as it is usually more like 5:20-30 before I actually roll out of bed) ... getting ready, B ready, lunch packed, car packed, and on the road by about 6:25... Arriving at daycare by 6:50, school by 7:00... working the day away .. and trying to leave to pick B back up by no later than 5... Oh yeah and then to go home and cook dinner, clean, play with B, & continue to work. Bleh.... I know I'm totally preaching to the choir!

Now that I'm off of that rant, I plan to have a 2nd post to you this week by Friday, that's my goal!  I've also made a new goal to try not and pull out my computer until B goes to bed... something else that hinders my ability to blog as much!  I just have to soak up all the time I can now that summer is over.

Last week we began working on our STAMINA!! The golden word, we began building stamina for independent reading last week.  This week we will continue that, but also add working on stamina for buddy reading!
One of my biggest goals this year is to make my kiddos reader's notebook more interactive & useful!  We began by adding the definition of STAMINA in their notebook! I bought several packages of colored pens before school started and let my kids use them for their anchor charts, they LOVE this!
Of course before we began discussing and working on our stamina, we talked about choosing a good fit book! 
While I don't do full fledged Daily 5 in my classroom {click here to read why}, we do components of it & I used a great FREE resource by Lyndsey over at A Year of Many Firsts.  I also snagged her new unit about Character Traits recently!
With interactive reader's notebooks being a goal of mine, when I ran across a new Interactive Reader's Notebook unit from Deanna Jump, I literally JUMPed on it!  I actually just bought it last night and let's just say, I'm IN. LOVE!

 Last week in one of my FAVORITE subjects to teach, writing, we began filling our Writer's Notebook with our "seeds."  We made 2 lists last week, our "sunshine," things we like, and our "lightening," things we don't like.  Forgot to take a picture of mine, I will snag one this week, or well try to... for now here are a few examples from my kiddos as they were working on their lists!

I sure do love these sweet peas already! :)  I plan to update and share more of our writer's notebook ideas as time goes on, so be sure to check back soon for more ideas!

To end our week, my co-worker Sam & I took our Love-Bugs to good ole' Chuck-E-Cheese!  The girls had a BLAST! :)
I love watching these two play together, so sweet!  Plus chatting until my hearts content with my sweet friend, Sam, is just as wonderful!  Back before summer, I shared some cute things Sam was creating.  I finally convinced her to take the TPT plunge & she launched a shot this summer!  Forgive me because I've been meaning to share about it for a while & then always ended up side tracked! :)   You can check out her shop by {clicking here!}  She has some great freebies available too!

OHHH & One more HUGE thing before I go!! Just last week, I created my FIRST Donors Choose project (instead of blogging one night).

I am super excited about the possibility of having some of these balls for my kids.  I have some kids that would benefit HUGELY from this!!!!   Anything donated within the first 7 days, regardless of how small the donation will be doubled when the code INSPIRE is used!  I would greatly appreciate any support, no matter how small it is!  :)

That is about all I have for you tonight, but I think I promised a freebie last week?!?!  It's nothing too special, but if one person can use it, I'm doing you a favor, right?!?! ;)  We added this stamina graph to our Reader's Notebook so they can track our progress, too! You can get it by {clicking here} or on the picture below! :)

Here's to another great week & a lot of changes (will share soon)! :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

First Week Exhaustion

Oh me, oh my.  Yes, I'm alive.  For the past two weeks, I've been dying to blog... this is my release, I find it relaxing and thoroughly enjoy sharing with others!  However, I am going to be 100% honest when I say that as much as I have wanted to blog, I have not been able to muster up the energy to!  .... and if I'm still being completely honest.... I have been so exhausted that I have hardly even kept up with instagram, facebook, reading some of my favorite bloggers, watching Big Brother & Bold & the Beautiful!  I kid you not, that exhausted!  My poor kid, we get home I cook dinner, maybe do a little painting, and then it's all snuggles together on the couch.  (No, I'm really not complaining about that part, I will take all the snuggles she is willing to give!) I don't know what is so different about the beginning of this year as opposed to others... oh wait.. I don't think there is... I think that I just choose to drown out the memory of the BTS exhaustion each year!  So enough of all that... I'm gonna do a quick re-wind of the past two weeks.

I don't even think I've blogged since the N.Tx Bloggers Meet up!  Check out this great group of ladies.  Thank you again,  Mrs. Patton from Mrs. Patton's Patch and Mrs. Thompson from Adventures in Teaching for hosting this great meet up for us! :)  Oh & thank you to Amy Lemons for sharing this great photo with us!  She saved the day with her fancy schmancy camera! ;)
You should check out the blogs of these sweet ladies:

We started back two weeks ago today!  This year my team is the SMALLEST I think it has been in the past 4 years, only six of us.   However, I have to say that these girls make my day, everyday!! :)
Left to Right: Marilyn, Diana, Sam, Becca, Me, & Kristin
Please excuse the fuzziness of the photo... Apparently my phone didn't deem it necessary to focus! I meant to snag a couple other pictures that we took throughout the week, but ehhhh 2 weeks passed and I still didn't get to snag a copy! Womp, womp.

The week went by SUPER quick, we learned lots of new things, some that are on my to-do list to share with YOU, in a later post of course! :)  Meet the teacher went great!! I had all but 3 of my 24 show up... Yes, you read that right TWENTY-FOUR! Here is the set-up before students arrived!

The first several days came and went, there was a lot of repetition, repeating, organizing, and practicing!  I managed to squeeze in a few of my favorite books, a few new books, and some great reviewing of previous learning!  My kids are totally rocking some of the concepts we are reviewing & while it is a HUGE class, I know it's going to be a great year... or well I'm crossing my fingers! ;)  Here are a few snapshots from our week!
 We are trying to make our science journal a little more interactive this year, so when a Becca, one of my teammates found the interactive science notebook from the Science Penguin, she snatched it up with some additional licenses during the big TPT sale!  I'm loving it already!
 My kids LOVED sharing their All About Me books they did for their first week of "homework."
After spending some time talking about vowels and consonants, we began to talk about CVC words! 

If you remember from my earlier posts in August, my school's theme this year is camping!  On Tuesday, we had a  "campfire" in my classroom.  I turned off all the lights and the students sat around in a circle.  Each student went around, shared their name, something they are good at, and then cracked their glow stick.  By the end it "campfire" area looked really cool & the kids LOVED it! :)
I'm thinking we will have campfires throughout the year, but probably just end up passing around a couple of glowsticks rather than each student having their own!

In writing, we started our list of stories by doing "Apples, peaches, pumpkin pie, you've got a story, so do I!"  I learned this great chant & lesson from Melissa Leach from Leach Teach!  Let me tell you, this is my second year doing this... & the kids L-O-V-E it! :)  If we didn't do the chant before I asked them to get started, they most definitely reminded me!!! I love that they are in 2nd grade and still love this cute & silly stuff! Makes my heart happy!

I felt as though we had to jump right on into the learning/reviewing & didn't have too much time for "fun" stuff.  So on Friday, I decided to bust out the watercolors & let the kids make some artwork using their name for the hallway!! Most all of the pictures turned out cute & it added a lot of color to our bulletin board in the hallway! :)

As I mentioned already, this last week was exhausting. 
It was the sweet & salty that got me through this week!!  Some of my former parents dropped off some sweet flowers for me on the first day back!  This family seriously makes my heart melt!  Last year when my attic fell through the garage... they brought me flowers and they are always giving my sweet treats, just because! :) The E-Card... Well when I saw it... It was a perfect depiction of EVERY.SINGLE. DAY last week!  The picture of B was a good interpretation of her nightly exhaustion, "ay momma, ay!" It is her sweet snuggles that get me through the night!  && When I realized Starbucks brought back my most favorite of favorite drinks, I knew Friday was gonna be a good day!  I am in LOVE with the salted caramel mocha frap!  If you haven't tried it, you're missing out!
And ... Because I can't help but to share a few more of the never ending photos!  The top left picture is probably one of the funniest to me... mostly because there were multiple nights last week that we got home and I see her laying on the dining room like this as I am cooking dinner.  She wasn't shy about doing it at a friends house either, which is where the above picture was taken!  Ice cream was also a must to get us through the week.  Oh & some retail therapy to help drown the exhaustion of the week out this weekend! :)  As you can tell, I'm really going to be in trouble when she is older.  She is a pro at shopping already!

I hope you all had a 3 day weekend & that you enjoyed it as much as I did!! I'm looking forward to the fact that it is only a 4 day work week!! I can do it, I can do it.  ;)