Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Filing Continues

After three days of work, the filing cabinets are now cleaned out! There are a few files that I've had in a box since the beginning of the school year that I now need to file and some lesson plans to complete, but that shouldn't take too long to complete.

 This drawer used to be completely full,  and now look! There's space at the back!

I've created a mess! (By the end of today's work, the recycle container was almost completely full (after three days of purging), yikes! I feel kind of guilty for throwing so much paper away. At least it gets recycled. I even found a few ditto copies!)

A close-up of my mess :)

Just about cleaned off... I also need to figure out the little stack on the counter. Some of those are lessons/activities for next week. I'm working on where to put daily lesson plans other than in a pile! I think what I'll do is file the other folders in the filing cabinet and put each days work in the metal folder holder like I had planned at the beginning of the year.

Here's the stack (in the overflowing brown box) I've been storing (elsewhere) of all the activities and worksheets (mostly masters) we've done since Sept! Also, the orange crate has the student files that need to have the stack on top filed. So much filing! Also, I'm going to actually move the student files one of the filing cabinet now that they have extra space. It'll be nice to have the extra space on the counter!

Now that I switched the reading table from one corner to the other and put the writing table in the spot where the reading table used to be, I'm going to switch out the writing bulletin board with the reading strategies board below.

The phonics wall is on the left with the reading strategy board on the right.

I think this may be for more writing anchor charts and student examples (I printed out the cues and taped them to the reading table so they can be used more efficiently). The wall was a nice idea, but not used as I had planned (students would make up the examples).

I also switched where the months of the year hung on the wall (sorry, no picture) to right above the calendar board instead of above the extra door. It fills in that area nicely. Now to figure out where to hang the adorable crayon wreath one of the parents made for me. I'm thinking above the bathroom door?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Science Fundraiser!

I created a project through that will provide my students with more science and make their dreams come true! If you or anyone you know would like to donate to our project please go to Any amount helps! We will even send you a personalized thank you card once the project is fully funded :) 

My class is an active, imaginative class of 28 first graders who love to learn, especially about science! They get so excited as soon as the word 'science' is spoken! A group of sixth graders volunteer their time about once/month to bring some hands on science to each first grade class. Even with this support, these lessons don't cover our science core in its entirety. With some additional materials, we can support the students' love for science along with being sure to cover the first grade science core!

Guided Math

For the last couple years, I've thought about math centers or something like that. Something that would look a lot like guided reading. That way students would be able to get the extra support they need to continue to progress. Well, I finally found some information on how a couple other teachers set up guided math and their reasoning, and now I'm going to take the plunge! I'm so excited!! It's going to be awesome! Plus, I'm quite certain that the students will like it immensely :)

Here's the basic idea:

Students who need extra support before going to independent work can continue to work in the small group setting. This should work for all of the groups. Typically I have a max of eight that ask for more help. There are others who also finish really fast and need some extension. This way, no matter where students' abilities are, they'll get the support they need. I love it!

I could go to more than three groups, but I'd have to double up on the Guided Math for at least two of those groups. After the second week, I'll see where we are and make changes as needed. Now to revamp social studies and science!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Files Galore!

Two first grade teachers were hired this school year (2014-2015). The classrooms had, of course, been occupied by two other first grade teachers. Both teachers left at least some of their materials for us newbies to use. The teacher I took over for left just about everything since she decided to be a SAHM. It was extremely generous of her! She had done so much work getting different pieces of the curriculum put together including lots of math manipulatives and different phonics programs and games, etc!

Over the summer, I went through all of the cupboards and closets and nooks and crannies and reorganized everything so that it would flow with how I like to work. After spending about two and a half months on the physical classroom, I love how it turned out! (Two of those weeks were spent teaching summer school and painting. Have you ever painted cinder blocks before?? It is a crazy amount of work!! Good thing my sister and a couple friends helped out.) The only part that I didn't get to is the filing cabinets. I did put a few files in that I had brought from second grade, but that's about it. I had thought that I would just spend the students' specialty time going through my files, but that didn't last very long. I was hardly making a dent each time! Plus there were other things that I also needed to get done during those times.

That brings us to Christmas break. Now that I'm almost over this cold, I decided to spend the afternoon and evening today going through the filing cabinets (there are two). I went through one of the filing cabinets today. For the most part, I only kept masters of each worksheet, project, mini book, etc. in an attempt to keep things neat and easily accessed. A few exceptions were made for projects that are coming up soon and for which there happened to be enough copies for my whole class. I've now filled up three or four recycling baskets! I feel bad getting rid of SO much paper!! Good thing I can at least recycle it!

One reason why I'm going through them in such a detailed manner is so that I know what materials I have and what I need or can add. This weekend, I began going through the curriculum and making a detailed curriculum map. The great thing is that other teachers and schools sometimes post their curriculum maps online. Two of them were especially great for science and social studies. There are a few things that I'll need to tweak here and there so that it fits with my state's core, but it's nice to have more of an idea of where to start! Over the summer, I really want to make a detailed plan and file all of the masters by month along with the games and centers. It's a huge project, but it'll be amazingly helpful!


Lots of recycled paper!

Nice and neat with lots of extra folders ready to be filled!

Friday, December 26, 2014

A LONG Wait!

Wow! It's been a LONG time! Last year, I went from teaching elementary art and reading and math interventions, to being a second grade teacher! It was great! This year, I was asked to switch grades and teach first grade instead. It was a bit hard to switch, but now I love it! A lot of the following posts will be out of order as I added in posts from my class' private blog and my personal blog in addition to what was already here from teaching art. Enjoy the chaos!

Here's my classroom as I left it right before Christmas Break. Don't you love the yellow? It's a lot brighter than I thought it would be, but I like how cheery it is, so it gets to stay. Plus it took two weeks to paint since cinder block is rather difficult to paint!

After seeing another teacher's writing space recently, I decided that I must have one too, so I "stole" back the table I put in the hall and declared it the writing table! I also updated a few bulletin boards and printed out the cue pages, which I then taped to the reading table for easy reference. There are a few other items that I'd like to add to the math board, but I'll wait until after the break - happy last day of school until January 5th, yay!!

My classroom!

The door goes to a girls and boys bathroom - one stall for boys and one stall for girls.

I want to change the sign to reading and writing or some such phrase at some point.

Here's the writing table with writing workshop items on the table, and reading workshop centers and other bins (i.e. homework files) on the counter.

The science, social studies, and math bulletin boards with math manipulatives under the counter.

I like not having a desk! Here's the reading table/my desk with the phonics cue cards (white squares - laminated) taped in the middle.
(It took three pictures to get all of the cards together. Please excuse my mash job!)

The red language arts books (Reading Wonders program) sit along the front wall with a math balance on top and balance balls! The balance balls have helped a few students SO much!!

I love our calendar area complete with our SmartBoard, hundreds chart, moon phase of the day, etc.

Chapter books are on the back of the kiva along with our leveled library (black bins)

Christmas decor - our unused door as a fireplace! Love :) And the listening center - desk with a CD player and multi hookup adapter for up to five students to listen at a time. I put five chairs in a semi circle around this desk and change out the book every few days. If I run out of books for the month, then I just cycle through the books again.

Along the brick wall is our not-very-used word wall and our reading couch - the rockers are also definitely a class favorite!

The Star Student (birthday student) poster goes in the frame. The books on the wooden shelves are all picture books that they students are allowed full access to.

Our volunteer table

The boxes and books above the coat cubbies are all non-fiction. These books are extremely popular! This class LOVES non-fiction books!

Oops, we forgot to take our ornaments home! Here is the view from the reading table to the main door into the side hall.

That's it for now :)

Merry Christmas!

Now that I've revived this old blog of mine, there should be some fun sharing happening! I look forward to compiling some of our projects here. I've kept a blog for my class for the last year and a half, but have needed to make it private to protect the students. This one won't have the students' pictures, but will include what we're up to :)

Got Tickets?

Originally posted 6/4/14 ( I've used this system for several years now. It's great, and the students love it!)

What are tickets?
Tickets are colored construction paper that have been cut into strips and laminated.

How do I earn tickets?
You may earn a ticket for behaviors such as: turning in homework, raising your hand to make a comment, picking up trash, working with purpose, etc.  You will put these tickets into your ticket envelope at your desk/table.

Throughout the week, you will earn tickets. At the end of the week, we will have fun Friday. Fun Friday will be from 1:50 PM - 2:10 PM. If you need to complete any assignments, you will need to do so before you may choose a fun Friday activity. If you have completed your assignments, then you will be able to choose from several games or activities. Games and activities will be based on how many tickets you earned that week. The person with the most tickets will choose first, the person with the least number of tickets will choose last. When necessary, we may privately discuss what you need to do in order to earn more tickets next week.

You are in charge of keeping your tickets in your ticket envelope. If your tickets get lost, you will need to look for them; they will not be replaced. If tickets are stolen, we will investigate and do our best to solve the problem.

Sometimes we all have a hard time doing what we're supposed to do. If this happens to you, I will give you/your group a warning. If the inappropriate behavior continues, you will be fined. If you are fined, you will need to pay a ticket.*  I'm always so sad to have to take tickets. I'd much rather give you tickets! So let's earn some tickets :)

At the beginning of December, I learned about Class Dojo and the whisper bell. We started implementing these instead of using tickets. It's helped a lot! No more lost or stolen tickets and more immediate feedback. The students love it! Class Dojo uses points, so we just use points instead of tickets now. The whisper bell reminds students to keep their voice level at the approved level for the activity they are working on.

Daily Schedule

Originally posted 8/31/14 (calendar time and math were switched to what's listed here a few weeks ago in order to accommodate a special ed need.) 

Daily Schedule 
Tuesdays - Fridays (No specialties on Mondays/early out day):

8:00-9:05 AM Early Bird Small Group Reading Block

9:05-9:15 AM Early Bird Recess

9:15 - 10:00 AM Math

10:00 -10:20 AM Calendar, Number of the Day, Pledge, Moon Phase, What Time is It?, Daily Rap, Magic Number, Cues.

10:25 - 11:10 AM Wonders Reading Program, Handwriting, and Writing Workshop

11:15 - 11:50 AM LUNCH & RECESS!

11:55 AM - 12:05 PM Teacher Read-aloud

12:05 - 12:50 PM Specialties - Tues-Fri (art/music/drama, computers, PE, and Library)

12:55 - 2:10 PM Wonders Reading Program with Science and Social Studies

2:15 PM - Early Bird Dismissal and Later Gator Recess

2:30 - 3:30 PM - Later Gator Small Group Reading Block

Descriptive Writing

This afternoon, during writing, we talked about descriptive writing. We started out describing a picture of Zion's National Park, and talked about how to make the sentences descriptive enough so that other people reading them would imagine what we saw. Then, we went on a mini field trip outside to describe the school.


Science Demo Team

Originally posted 9/18/14

This morning one of the first graders was extra excited for science today - 

Student: "Teacher!!! When is science??? When is SCIENCE?????? I've never been teached science before!!! When is ScIEenCe???"

Me: " In about 10 mins!"

As soon as the 10 minutes was up, we walked over to Mrs. Skillicorn's classroom to have SCIENCE! 

This year, the first graders have Science Demo Team. Science Demo Team is made up of a group of about 20 sixth graders. These students are divided into two teams - one AM team and a PM team. They stay after school and work with a sixth grade teacher who teaches them to present a first grade science topic. There is about a 10 minute direct instruction/introduction, and then about 20 minutes for the experiment. We have the team work with us about eight times over the year. The lessons and experiments are super fun! The students love having science with the sixth graders! We, of course, supplement these lessons with additional lessons throughout the year. 

Today was our FIRST! Science Demo Team experience. The students learned about how scientists use their five senses to identify an object. The object this time was in a Styrofoam cup covered with tinfoil that had a small hole in the middle. The students weighed it, took its temperature, smelled it (wafting), tasted it with their eyes closed, and listened to soda fizzing. Most of them loved the treat, although one seemed very suspicious and wouldn't try it. Maybe next time! 

Johnny Appleseed Day!

Originally posted on 9/2714

Our sixth grade study buddies helped us make these adorable apple mobiles. I love how bright they are hanging on our ceiling!
Yesterday was Johnny Appleseed Day! In the morning, we tried six different types of apples* and decided which kind was our favorite. 

*Red Delicious
*Golden Delicious
*Granny Smith
*Honey Crisp

Bob the Troll

Originally posted 10/9/14

A couple weeks ago, we read the first Troll Patrol book.
back cover

The bully version of Bob.

The stuffed animal version of Bob, so that Cliff could take him to school where Bob learns to be nice.

Bob learns to be nice and make friends :)

Bob, the troll, wrote to us!! We love getting letters from Bob! We check our tollbox often and get oh so excited whenever we find a note!

Several students have now written back to Bob and are anxiously awaiting a response!

We Love Bats!

Originally posted 10/10/14

We made these fun bats to add a touch of Halloween to our classroom. They really are kind of spooky!

We also watched The Magic School Bus: Going Batty. Then we wrote down some facts we learned about bats from the show and other sources. We love bats!

I found the idea via Pinterest, but made a new wing template. One of my students suggested the addition of the fangs. Ooh, that's just what they needed! I really need to learn how to scan images to make them into PDFs! Would anyone want the wings if I add them to TPT? Since I didn't come up with the original idea, it would seem most appropriate to offer them for free, don't ya think?

Stories from the Pumpkin Patch

Originally posted 10/24/14

Scarecrows with scarecrow stories. We have quite the authors in our class!
"One day a scarecrow scared a crow. But the scarecrow did watch. Finally the scarecrow was watching and they lived happily ever after."

Scarecrows all in a row: 

If I can figure out how to scan the pumpkin patch story template, I will add it to TPT.

All About Leaves

Today, we had a day of leaves! After learning some interesting facts about leaves and realizing that we even EAT leaves, we went outside to collect leaves. We made leaf rubbings, remembered to use our senses like scientists, and made an art project or two!


Our classroom overlooks the patio and the school's community garden. It's a beautiful view! We have seen several classes enjoying the space, and today, we took the opportunity to write outside again! This time we worked on a 5 senses poem about fall.
by _________

I see _____.
I smell _____.
I hear _____.
I taste _____.
I touch _____.


Voting and Veteran's Day

Originally posted 11/6/14

Today, we talked a little bit about voting and voiced our opinions on whether the park up the street should put in a big play structure or a splash-pad. We used OREO writing (Opinion, Reason, Explanation, and Opinion restated). Of course we had to have Oreos to inspire us!

After lunch, we started talking about Veteran's Day (Nov. 11th). These are our flag wind socks. I love how bright they are!