Thursday, February 28, 2013

Deep in the Heart of Texas *clap*clap*clap*clap*

I'm linking up with Diane from Fifth in the Middle to try to meet some other Texas bloggers.  I am excited about the possibilities!

Click on the picture to link up with your state.

Thanks Diane for this great idea


Only 6 more days until Spring Break for us.  I can almost smell the vacation…...

-The Frizz

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Teacher Wish List Linky

I'm linking up with Melissa from

First Grade Smiles
If I had all the money in the world to spend on my classroom, here's what I would want:
Art Supplies

This year, we don't even have water colors. 

A Classroom Globe. 

Enough base ten blocks so that each child can use them to count.  
Why are they so expensive?

A rack to put my headphones on for my listening center.  
The tangles are driving us bonkers.

A Big Bulletin Board.  Right now I have one that is half this size.  Everything else I put on the wall must be taped or sticky tacked.  No staples or tacks.  (Needless to say, everything keeps falling off the walls!)


I had two of these at my old school.  When I moved, I wasn't given a single shelf or cabinet to put all of my random junk teaching materials in.  Many tears have been shed over this downsize.

Again, a shelf like this would make all my dreams come true.  Right now I have two teeny tiny shelves that I bought from Target holding all of our materials.

I want my kidney table back.  This year I didn't really have room for it in my classroom.  I miss it.

I want all of these...but only in green, blue, and purple to match my classroom colors.

I would put the containers in my classroom library on low shelves like these.

Or this one.

Or this one.

Love the storage space! Dream come true!

I basically want Tunstall's Classroom! So jealous of all that chevron!
Click the picture to take a look at her beautiful classroom!

This one is for kicks and giggles.  
It will never happen at the district I work for, but a girl can dream!

I could go on and on, but I will stop here.

Click on Melissa's blog button below to link up!

First Grade Smiles

The Frizz

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Six for Saturday?

I am finally linking up with Kasey from Doodle Bugs Teaching this week for her Five for Friday linky.  I hate linking up late, so I thought in order to make up for it I would add one extra picture and call it Six for Saturday.

Anyone with me when I say the shortest weeks feel like the longest?

Here's what's been happening in First Grade:

Monday: President's Day Holiday! No School!  Hip Hip Hooray!

Tuesday and Wednesday: 

 Thursday: I went to a 1st and 2nd grade training at our Region center.  It was  
My Friend Liz from my old school was there and we got to hang out all day long!  I SO needed that!

Aside from learning SO MUCH, we also won door prizes!  

Here we are with our anglegs.  

We also got our free choice of a book from B&N.

I picked Wild About Books and my friend picked Henry's Freedom Box.

I guess I'm going to have to stop saying that "I never win anything."  
We won BIG this time!

I had so many "AHA" moments at that conference.  It was great to be able to talk it out with Liz.  At two separate times we both said to each other, "I need to re-do everything in my classroom!"  

By the end of the day, we were feeling so excited and overwhelmed with all of the new information and strategies, we convinced each other to go straight home and plan it all out.  Put it on paper.

Here's how I planned it out:

Yep! That's right.  I went shopping!

Can you blame me?

I felt a lot better after that.  

(Update: Since then I have managed to put what I've learned into my lesson plans.  It's happening next week.  I will let you know how it goes!)

On Friday, my class earned a party and voted to have a "game day".  Students brought their favorite game to school and we played it after lunch. 
 I taught two of my students how to play Battleship (a childhood favorite of mine!)  
The headbands game was a HIT.  I even joined in a few rounds and had the time of my life! 
It was fun to see who brought what games.  We had an anger birds game and a princess spinner story telling game!

Saturday: Laundry day.

Thanks for humoring me with my Five for Friday Six for Saturday!  

Have you ever heard of Roam, Dip, Sit?  
That's what I'm trying out during centers on Monday!
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Where's my hall pass?

I'm linking up with Reagan from Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits for a super-duper linky!

When I read Reagan's blog post about this linky, I knew I just had to join.  Here's how she described it:

" I don't know about you, but I could definitely use a hall pass!  Time to gather my thoughts, make funny faces in the mirror as I create a sink of bubbly water.  Maybe chat it up with the lady in the stall next to mine?  It's that time of year!  Kids know the routine, they know the work expectations, and they know how to get a few minutes to themselves!
Teachers, where's OUR hall pass?!  "

 Hilarious! And

Check out the categories below.

Product: Considering I began creating products just last week, I only have TWO to choose from.  Decisions, decisions.  I will have to go with this one:

It has been so much fun to create this for my classroom, try it out and discover it works, make it "cute" for TPT, and UPLOAD! 

Area: This is currently (by far!) my favorite area at the moment.  
(Click the picture to read more about our Safe Place and to grab a freebie!)

I have spent a lot of time and attention teaching my students how to use our safe place.  It is a place that the teacher the students can go to calm down, breathe, and refocus.  It works most.of.the.time. which in my opinion is SUCCESS!
Feel like punching someone right about now? Why not go to the safe place to calm down.
You're crying uncontrollably because your purple crayon broke? Head on over to the safe place.
You've asked to go to the nurse for the tenth time today because your left nostril hair hurts? Grab some boo boo cream in the safe place.
Need to blow off steam because your pencil box fell off your desk, yet again?  SAFE PLACE to the rescue!

 Signal: This is a great question because it is honestly one that I have been struggling with.  I cannot wait to learn other signals from this linky! I have a few tricks up my sleeve, but could always use more.

I Say "Class" and my students say "Yes"
This comes from Whole Brain Teaching.  
I usually sing this, or say it in a silly voice.  This gets their attention when they are talking to their elbow partner on the carpet.

I use a special song to signal my students to clean up from centers.  I used to ring my bell (just two weeks ago!) but the signal had turned into EVERYBODYYELLATTHETOPOFYOURLUNGS that it's clean up time and go find your best friend to tell them what you will be playing at recess and ask the teacher a million questions and please will you tie my shoe and I just stepped on my base ten blocks but I don't feel the need to clean up because I really need to get that drink of water and please for heaven sakes do not clean up your center I only just rang the bell because I really like the sound of it!..... We had the honor of starting fresh with a new transition signal to help with this chaos minor issue.
I have made a playlist on my Ipod for Math Centers.  We go to two math centers a day, so the playlist lasts 45 minutes long with the clean up song exactly at the time to switch from the first center to the second center and to clean up the second center.  It's glorious because I don't even need to do anything.  And it keeps me on schedule.

Sanity: Recently I have kept sane by taking a step back while I am in the classroom and finding the humor in things.  I am usually all serious. All the time.  But lately I have been looking and noticing the cute and silly things that first graders do.  I find myself smiling to myself or chuckling in my head because of their patterns and behaviors.  Laughter is the best medicine, right?  
The only other thing I can think of that keeps me sane is my 6am coffee!  It's what gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps everyone happy! "It gives shy people the courage to do what they have to do." (oh wait. maybe that's biscuits.)

Whew.  There it is.  It feels good to finally get my own hall pass.  

Where's yours?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Teacher Tip Tuesday: The Daily Five Update

Finally, after much anticipation, I present you with my Daily Five Post!

You may remember my call for help with the Daily Five a few weeks ago!  

I am so grateful for this blog-world because many of you heard my cry of help and came to the rescue.  

I had created this fancy-pants Word Work Tic Tac Toe and thought I had taught my students how to use it.

We spent a few weeks learning the new word work recording sheets that were can be found here. (I love these, even though the management system I had created to use them didn't love me back!)

Needless to say, it didn't go well.

I used the pocket chart (which I am not a fan of....I'd rather give students the choice and keep everybody happy and engaged!) and told students where to go.  Most students could handle read to self, partner reading, and work on writing.  But BOY OH BOY when we went to Word Work it was like we had never.been.there.before.
I'm blaming it on the teacher.
(Shhh..don't tell her that!)

So when the reading specialist who pulls 4 of my kiddos needed to change when she pulled them to the time I pull my reading small groups, I opted to REDO my entire schedule in hopes of breaking old habits starting fresh.

Here's my new schedule! I absolutely love it!  We have our Daily Five rotation at the end of the day (as oppose to right before lunch).  It's the last thing we do and we can't wait to do it! 

I also re-organized my word work center to help with the anxiety of it all.
I placed all the materials and paper on the same shelf.  The paper (which is actually not in the photo) is sorted in over sized envelopes and placed in the turquoise tub.  I placed an example of each choice in a clear slip and taped it to the front of the envelope.  Now there are no questions about how to do the work.

Here is a close up of my materials for word work. 
My students LOVE using pens and old cell phones.
Call me maybe?

After doing some research, I created a handout for my students to keep up with which Daily Five they had been to each day. 
(Really, it was for my peace of mind!  I needed to know they were doing their work each day!)

If you make it to the end of this post, you can get it for free!

Here's how it works: 

My students move about the Daily Five progression at their own pace independently.  When they finish a center, they go color that center in on their chart for that day.

Ex: If it is Monday, and I just finished Read with a Partner, I would color in that picture and words on my Check in Sheet.  Let's say I want to go to Word Work next.  After I have spelled all the words that my little brain can handle, I walk back to my desk and color in the Word Work box.  At the end of the entire reading block, I look to see which center I didn't have time for (we usually have time for three at most) and I write that center in on the "tomorrow" box.  I will start at this center the next day.(This ensures that students are rotating through all five center choices)

Does this make sense?

It has been a learning experience for all of us.

I really wanted to experiment try to teach my students how to rotate at their own pace- paying attention to their stamina as they learn.  I thought this was the year to do it since I only have ten.

Here's what we've learned and fixed since last week.

My students loved the free choice.
However, they were getting upset when someone would steal their computer.

Let me explain.

I pull small groups during this time.  If I were to call a student who was at the computer, that would open up a computer.  Another student might switch to the computer during our guided reading group time.  When we were finished at the back table, my student would have to pick another center that was NOT the computer!  Can't you just hear the unjustice? 
"I was there first!
"That's my computer!" 
Unfair, right?

After about the second day of seeing my students get upset, we had a family meeting.  I explained the problem and asked for suggestions.

Here's what they came up with:
The number system.

We decided to use our Lunch Count Numbers during the Daily Five Rotations to "hold our spot".

I made these little banners for each of the numbers to fit on.

Now, when a student is called to my back table, no other student can take over their center because they can't put their number on the spot! 

It gives me a better picture of who is where around the room, as well.

It also ensures that only a certain number of students go to that center at a time.

Only one student at each Ipod, please!

It's okay to work with a partner during Work on Writing time.

Although we have had to make some adjustments, we love the choice it brings. 
 My students are more engaged because they are taking ownership of their learning!  
Don't get me wrong, it's still a work in progress, but I'd like to think the Sisters would be proud of us.

Thanks for making it to the end. 

Here's a Freebie of the Check in Sheet I use with my students.  

 Click either picture to get it at my TPT store!
Thank you Liz from Polka Dot Firsties for cluing me in on how to make my picture bigger!  
I did it this time!

What'd ya think?  
Are you willing to give this a try?