October 8, 2017

Using my Echo Dot to Improve Math Fluency in my First Grade Classroom

I got an Echo Dot recently and was so impressed at how easy it was to use I decided to get one for my classroom. I decided to make activities that allow students to set individual goals for themselves and also check their work. Here is how it works...

1) Students set a goal for how many facts they can solve. 
2) Students set a time limit.
3) Students follow the instructions on the paper and say "Alexa, set the timer for..."
4) Students begin to solve the addition/subtraction problems.
5) When the timer goes off students check their work by following the Alexa prompt, "Alexa, what is 2 + 2?
6) Students correct wrong answers and write down how many they got correct. 


September 24, 2017

CAFE: EDITABLE Rules for Daily 5

Daily 5 Rules

Establishing clear rules that everyone agrees on is an important part of implementing the Daily 5 in any classroom. This products allows you to make rules with the students and display them in a cute way. It's also nice and small so it saves precious wall space. 

Type student responses in and make the frame together. Place in a 4x6 frame.

September 18, 2017

9 of the Best Things Teachers Need to Buy on Amazon Right Now (Under $30)

Teaching is tough so treat yourself, girl (or boy)!  

1. This concrete desktop planter for your desk at work.
Turn your desk into an oasis with this modern piece. Plus, succulents need very little water so maybe this plant will actually stay alive!

Summer vacation is only 10 not-so-short months away. Start your planning and saving with this decorative piggie bank!

3. These rose gold pens
For the rose gold fanatic in us all.

For those days when you put your hand in something sticky... and you're pretty certain it wasn't glue. 

Every teacher deserves come papering. 

Your school lunch may not be appetizing, but your thumb drive sure will! 

7. This charcoal-colored laptop sleeve.
You and your laptop will travel in style with is 13-inch felt laptop sleeve. 

8. This motivating pencil or make-up bag.
Think of your sweet pooch every time you grab a knick knack from this canvas bag,

9. This white marble rubber-coated MacBook cover.
Your laptop will have a new look with a rubber finish with this durable laptop skin. 

September 16, 2017

3 Tips to Get Your Students Signing into Chromebooks Independently

Technology in the classroom is great, but if not introduced properly, it can sometimes prove to be more of a nuisance than a valuable learning tool.  Here are a few tips for how to get your students started with the most difficult task.... signing in! 

1. Practice mouse & trackpad skills: I begin by allowing my students to sign in as a guest. I pull up some games that help teach students how to use the mouse or trackpad. This is important because many children are used to tablets and smartphones and assume all screens are touch screen. I recommend the website OWLIE BOO

2. Incorporate a 'Technology Coordinator' into your classroom jobs:  We all have them; students who know more about technology than even the most tech-savy teacher. Use them. I instruct students to go to these students before coming to me with technology help. 

3. Use visuals: When providing usernames and passwords, use visuals to not only show students their passwords, but where they should enter the information. I use lanyards and put their sign in cards inside the lanyard. You can get my editable Chromebook sign in cards HERE


August 31, 2017

CAFE Menu and Reading Comprehension Sticky Notes

I've blogged a lot lately about using Daily 5 in my classroom. I recently posted a Facebook Live explaining how I organize Word Work to meet each of my students' individual needs (without losing your mind). For this post I want to talk more about Read-to-Self and Read-to-Someone. 

Independent practice is important in any classroom no matter the subject. I wanted a way for my students to independently practice the comprehension strategies I teach during my read alouds. To do this I made reading comprehension sticky notes on VistaPrint. It was fairly easy and inexpensive (~2 a pack). I included the images in my Cafe Menu Poster & Comprehension Sticky Note Pack. I have more detailed directions there. 

Here's how I use them. When teaching a comprehension strategy during my mini lesson, I show the corresponding card of my CAFE Menu. After my mini lesson, each student gets a sticky note. They use this during Read-to-Self. They place the sticky note on the page where they used the strategy. They can also respond on the back of the sticky note. The picture on the sticky note helps remind students of their objective during reading and is a great informal assessment tool. 

I hope you all enjoy this pack! Happy reading! 

August 24, 2017

Flexible Seating for First Grade!

Flexible seating has been around for some time now. I'm not sure what took me so long to jump on that bandwagon, but here goes! This is my first year teaching first as well as my first year using flexible seating. That being said, I'm clearly not an expert in the area, but I did want to share some pictures! Enjoy!

This is my fabulous step-daughter using the lap desks during my set-up day.

homemade objective boards. 12x12 weathered wood from Michael's, printed vinyl, and clothes pins. 





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August 20, 2017

First Day Math Activities

Math games for the first few days to review simple math skills while helping students get to know their new environment. Check 'em out!

Math About Me: 2 versions (boy & girl)

Shape Hunt: 2 versions (Draw a Shape & Tally)

Number Hunt: 2 versions (draw the number & tally)

August 16, 2017

Sanity-Saving Word Work Organization and Management Pack

The part two years have been crazy, to say the least. I changed school districts then changed grade levels. Not only am I learning new curriculum, but I'm helping write new science curriculum for my district, moving classrooms, and starting a new first grade Teachers Pay Teachers store. Since my change to first, I've spend a lot of time thinking about how I can better manage my students during Daily 5 time while designing instruction to meet the WIDE variety of levels in my class and begin to shift responsibility in my classroom to my students so they become independent learners. Not an easy task. 

Because Word Work is such a popular Daily 5 choice, I wanted to make their time there as meaningful as possible. Last year (my first year using Daily 5) I found that my students would often go to certain 'favorite' games that didn't necessarily meet their individual learning goals. I couldn't find a solution that didn't involve me individually picking games for my students each day, but I didn't love that idea. I wanted to encourage students to make better choices regarding their learning and I honestly didn't have the time to pick new activities for each student each day! I've spent this summer coming up with ideas to manage this that didn't require too much maintenance. So after about a million ideas, here's what I came up with. I hope you enjoy!

Let's start with what is included in the pack, then I'll explain how I use it.... 

Above is my Word Work area in my classroom. As you can see I use color-coded labels on bins (you can purchase them on Amazon HERE). I keep most of the same bins out all year. You can also see picture frames on top of my shelf. I put 4x6 anchor charts (also color-coded) in the frames

Here is a close-up...
(I use plastic frames from Ikea)

Then I give each student a Focus Card....


Print out a focus card for each student and laminate. My students keep these in their book bins (or bag of books). When I do formal assessments or confer, students know to bring this card with them. I place a star sticker on about 3-4 'keep practicing' areas. This way, my students know these are the buckets they can choose from during Word Work time. If I feel they mastered that specific area I place a sticker on 'mastered'. You wouldn't believe how motivated my students are to earn their stickers! 

Here Why I Love This: 

 1. My students are still making choices regarding their learning. I decide what they need to learn, they decide HOW they learn it. Can you say highly effective??? 
 2. It's super easy to pick areas to practice and you DO NOT need to change them too often. Many times, my student spend weeks practicing certain skills. That's okay. 
 3. When a supervisor comes into your classroom and asks a 6-year-old what they're learning, they may just be able to tell them! We've all been there. A supervisor comes in with their laptop and walks over to 'that kid' and asks him/her what they are learning and of course they answer with some off-topic response. Now, students have clear goals with visuals. 

Organizing the Buckets

Don't over-think this step, but here was my thinking...

Vowel Sounds: I put long vowel and vowel combinations in this category. 

CVC Words - and CVC word activity or short vowel activity

CVCe Words - Any activity with the CVCe combination

Digraphs - I put all digraph & consonant blends in here

Sight Words - obviously... :)

Word Families :) 

* These are B&W images printed on color paper. 

I hope you enjoy this pack (available for purchase in my TPT store)

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