Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fire Safety, FREEBIE, & Literacy Centers!

Happy Weekend Yall!!

These days are just flying by this year!  I cannot believe it is almost October already!  I hope your first month of school is going well!  So far so good for me in the First Grade world :)

I am going to start this post with my VERY FIRST FREEBIE GIVEAWAY!  All you have to do is comment on this blog post (be sure to include your email address)!  First 5 comments get this for FREE!

October has so many fun things to celebrate and teach about!  We are currently reading "Firehouse Fun!" by Abby Klein and I am hoping to take a field trip to the firestation this year!  My students LOVE the Ready Freddy series and we read it all year long to practice recalling text & making predictions!

My Fire Safety Pack goes along with the math we have been doing which is graphing and tallies!  And who doesn't love a game of "Read the Room"!

I am still working on my Bullying Pack so check back to MY TpT STORE shortly!  

We completed our very 1st Classroom Book!  I made this template based on the Kid President video on being awesome!  We watched the video and talked about ways to be awesome.  Then we talked about an author's job and an illustrator's job.  Then we wrote our own book.  

You can get this book for FREE at my TpT Store.  
I included differentiated pages for more or less writing!

Some of the ideas my students had were to help people go down the slide at recess & to help your parents carry things in the house! (Aren't they cute!)

How I do Literacy Centers...

I have had some teachers ask me to show them how I run centers so I figured, why not blog about it and share it with everyone!

So I got this idea from a friend I went to Grad School with.  I did a long-term sub job for her when she had her baby and I have never come across a better way to do center rotations!

Doing it this way, I get to see EVERY student EVERY day!

So here is a picture of how I set it up...

Once I have my students leveled with Fountas & Pinnell, I put them into leveled groups.  Red group is usually my RTI group, then blue, then yellow, and then green is my highest group.  I do FOUR 15 minute rotations.  The 4 rotations are:

Guided Reading (with me)
Independent Work
EA Center

I start centers by saying Red Group start at Guided Reading, Blue Group start at EA Center, Yellow Group start at Centers, and Green Group start at Independent Work.

The Red Group at Guided Reading would come to me where we do Guided Reading based on their F&P levels.

The Blue Group at the EA Center is a center I have my EA (or Spec Ed if you are inclusion) run.  To start (since my students are still practicing these rotations) I have her playing Sight Word Slap Jack with the students (letters for my RTI Group).  Eventually I will have her working with Words Their Way.

The Yellow Group at Centers would go to the center that is on the pocket chart and work with their partner.  So this way there are only 2 students at one center and usually no more than 6 students at centers at one time.  I leave the pictures in place and rotate the center pictures each day.  

The Green Group at Independent Work will take out their designated Independent Work folders (which we made and practiced before we started this rotation).  They will work on work in that folder and if they finish, they will get a new paper from the differentiated drawers.  (I will add a picture of this soon!) I have a rubbermaid 3 drawer stand that I use for this.  I have one drawer labeled RED, one GREEN, and one for BLUE & YELLOW.  I put work based on the students levels in the respective drawers.

After 15 minutes, I call CLASS CLASS (Whole Brain Teaching) and the students clean up where they are at.  I have 4 designated areas for students to line up.  I just used Zebra duct tape (to match my jungle theme).  So..... students who were with my line up at the tape near my table.  Students who were at centers line up on the tape by the computers.  Students who were at independent work line up on the tape by the desks.  Students who were working with my EA line up at the tape near her table.

Once everything is cleaned up and students are lined up nicely, they rotate.  Since they are still learning this process, I tell them where to rotate to.  Eventually, I will just say rotate and they will know!

Once the students are used to this process, centers literally run themselves!  And you get more time with all your students!

If you have any questions about this, leave me a comment or drop me an email and I will be more than willing to help!

And don't forget... the first 5 comments win my Fire Safety Pack!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Just a Little Something from Samantha

Good Morning, y'all! Yes, I am still alive. If you have read my blog before, you know that I switched schools AND grade levels this year. I. am. exhausted. It is all part of teaching though, eh? Anyway, I have had some wonderful days with my second graders and I would like to share an idea with you! 

First, I stumbled upon an awesome back to school sale Office Depot had going for a month or so. They were offering two 18 by 24 posters, 50 color copies, 50 business cards, 3 feet of lamination and a teacher planner for $29.99. I NEEDED quality color copies and the price for that alone was pretty good, so I had to come up with a fun set of posters for my classroom. One turned out nice and the other I LOVE! Among the items on my mile long to-do list, was "create an exit-slip board." I decided, instead of cutting a bunch of papers and gluing them down, I would design my own. I had so much fun getting back into using my Photoshop Software... So after designing a bunch of stuff, I was able to make it to Office Depot and load up my work, just before they closed... this meant I had to sit all night and into the next afternoon until they called to tell me my stuff was ready. When I picked up my laminated poster, I was beyond happy with the results... What do you think?

Look at those colors! I love them! The first time I used this was during a getting to know you activity. I had my students participate in one of the traditional, "find someone who....., and have them sign the box" surveys. First, my students went through the list and put an X by the boxes that applied to them. Then, they walked around asking others if they fit the categories. I had modeled how to ask the other person a question and how to get more information from them. I told them that, "yes" wasn't a sufficient answer, they needed to know what languages the other person spoke, or what kinds of pets they had. After we did this for about 20-25 minutes, we came back to our seats and the next task was to look at their surveys and find someone that was similar to them. Then my students wrote their number (my students are assigned numbers for everything we do!) and the "similar person's" name and how they are similar on a Post-It note and stick it on their own number. My goal was to help build relationships within the classroom, while teaching them how to use exit slips. Here is a picture of the poster in use.

Look at all of those similarities in my classroom! And, YES, I have 28 second graders in my room! Number 30 was my example for them. I love this activity and plan on using this poster for exit slips in every subject area. Exit slips can be used in so many ways. I just love how you can get a quick assessment just by putting a response on a Post-It and sticking it to their number! So, what do y'all think? Do you use exit slips? How do you use them? 

Also, if you are interested in this poster (with bigger lettering on top), I put it on Teachers Pay Teachers (here). This is my first paid product and it is currently on sale for just ONE DOLLAR! Go check it out! While in TPT, follow my store, I plan on putting more products up in the near future! 

I hope someone can get use out of this poster! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WBT Wednesday with Ms. T's Class

Hey guys!  I hope you are all having a FABULOUS week!

Wednesdays are super busy for me but I wanted to share a little of what I am doing with Whole Brain Teaching so far!  (I know it's only week 3 but these kids are getting ready for COLLEGE!)

Also, if any of you are doing WBT this year and are interested in a Weekly WBT Wednesdays Linky Party, please comment and let me know!  Also, visit the AMAZING Mrs. Shipley for awesome WBT Tips every Wednesday!

So this week, we are really getting into WBT!  One thing we have been doing a TON of is Oral Writing!  My students are using brainies for capital letters, periods, question marks, exclamation points, commas, and the words "and" & "because"!

I have a BiffyToons Binder that I let students use whenever they want.  I decided I should have a Brainies Binder as well!  Once we get more used to Brainies, I will pass around the desk set brainies that I laminated for each student!

Get your FREE WBT chevron & jungle themed desk set brainies HERE!

Visit the Whole Brain Teaching website to get your own FREE copies of Brainies and BiffyToons (sight word with gestures)!

My students have been doing awesome with the 5 WBT Rules so I used the rules to practice Teach/Okay!  We practiced FULL TURNS to your neighbor and teaching with gestures.  They were doing awesome and when I called Class Class, they replied Yes Yes and turned back around to be sitting perfectly at their desks!

The other calls and responses we have done so far are:
Peanut Butter Class - Jelly Time Yes!
Hold up Class - Wait a minute Yes!
Attention Class (army style) - Attention Yes!

Rule #3 - Raise your hand for permission to speak!

Rule #4 - Make smart choices!

Rule #5 - Keep your dear teacher happy!

We practiced Switch! today -- which BTW I NEVER got to last year!  I am so excited that I could do it in week 3 this year!  One student was the peanut butter and the other was the jelly.  The peanut butters had to ask the jellies questions like "What is your favorite color?", "What do you like to do at recess?", etc.  The jellies had to answer using COLLEGE TALK (full sentences).  If the jelly did not use college talk, the peanut butters had to use the brainy for complete sentence please & say "college talk please".  

My kiddos did SO amazing with this!

(Initially they were getting "college talk" and "oral writing" confused.  So I wanted to do this mini lesson so they understood what was expected of them when we asked for college talk.)

I made my own Power Pix to match my jungle theme this year and to correlate with Common Core 1st Grade Standards.  I will be putting these in my TpT Store as soon as I complete them!  We are starting with end marks and capital letters since we have been working hard on this with oral writing!

We focused this week on capital letters.  What is a capital letter? A capital letter is the uppercase letter of the alphabet.  We played Cutie using thumbs up or down to identify capital letters.  Then we practiced our capital letters using white boards.  First, I called out a letter and had students write the capital letter.  Then I had them write as many capital letters as they could.  I have some future authors in my class this year! :)

Another WBT 5 step lesson we did was with tally marks!  I use tally marks to keep track of student's "Gus Bucks" (our PBIS system).  Most of them had enough to go shopping in the PBIS Catalog, but they could not count tallies so they didn't know it!  I used the Math Power Pix for this lesson and after 20 minutes, I swear my students were tally experts!

Since it was a nice day (and we live in Wisconsin so those are numbered), we did the application part of the lesson outside!

I am still getting familiar with the WBT 5 Step Lesson Plan, but I have to tell you, it is AMAZING and IT WORKS!  I am hoping that soon, the WBT 5 Step Plan will be second nature to me because I seriously believe that teaching the students this way can really take them to new levels!  If you don't believe me, check out some of Mrs. Shipley's videos of her Firsties doing multiplication and division..... and not only doing it, but EXPLAINING IT!

I am so excited about WBT this year and the opportunity to become an Intern!

Look for more of WBT Wednesdays & follow my journey!

If you are doing WBT, please comment with more ideas, thoughts, suggestions, and/or link to your WBT blog/ideas!

Happy (Whole Brain) Teaching!
~ Heidi

Saturday, September 13, 2014

We Will Never Forget...

Week #2 is in the books!  I am finally starting to get back into this school schedule with extended days... slowly but surely!  (I work at a Priority School and we go for 8.5 hours a day with students).  I wanted to share some of the things we did this week!

Here is my 1st bulletin board of the year!  The students did self portraits.  We did a name bunting & then I took pictures of the students and did mini-interviews.  I edited their pictures on PicMonkey to add their name, age, favorite color, most looking forward to in 1st Grade, and what they want to be when they grow up.  I put those pictures up next to their self portraits.

After the students finished these self portraits, I had them do mini ones in pencil to make a class border.  I scanned this to my computer and will use it for our class newsletters.

Last week, we did this back to school activity.  Each student decorated a puzzle piece and then cut it out.  I had them all work together to put the puzzle together.  It was a good lesson in teamwork!

 I am SO excited about this product I got from TpT!!!  These Student Data Graphs are exactly what I was looking for this year!  Students keep track of their own progress & set their own goals!

While students are practicing centers, I have been calling students over to start assessing and recording their current levels.  I am so blessed this year to have only 18 students right now!  It is amazing what I can get done compared to the 36 students I started with last year!

I bought the poly folders for $0.50 at walmart so they will last all year!  Behind their data, I have Super Speed 100 and Super Speed Math for practice during centers.  I have not started this with the students quite yet but they are having a blast playing Electronic SuperSpeed!  It is also and easy way to assess sight word knowledge!

Get your FREE Whole Brain Teaching resources HERE!


The most fun part of last week was.... remembering September 11th!  I LOVE teaching about this day!  Especially since most of my firsties do not know about it yet.  

I start out by showing pictures of the Twin Towers before anything happened.  I ask students if they know what these buildings are.  Then I show a picture of the buildings after they have been hit.  I have students partner up and talk about what they think happened. I have heard everything from zombies invading the city to 100 bombs being thrown into the buildings!  

Then I show the 1st part of the BrainPop video on 9/11.  The students are usually VERY intrigued!  I stop for questions often!  This year I found another video on Discovery Education by Reading Rainbow called the Tin Forest.  

After this, I have students draw on a blank piece of paper how they feel.  

Then we come back together and talk about the heroes of that day.  I just LOVE this amazing American Heroes packet!  Students wrote thank you letters to the heroes and drew pictures to go with it!  There are some fantastic coloring pages & writing pages in this pack!

Then we read the book "September 12th" written by First Graders.  I love using this book to show my students they can do ANYTHING!  I use it later in the year when we talk more about authors and illustrators too!

Okay so now to my most favorite part of this year!  My fiance just got out of the military last week after 5 years... so I asked him to come to school on Sept 11th and do a mini bootcamp for the students and answer questions.

Our firsties were SO AWESOME!  They LOVED seeing what they do in the military and had a million questions for him!

Since many of my students last year met him, he did another bootcamp presentation for the 2nd Graders afterwards. All of our students think they want to join the military now!

When we were done with the bootcamp, we came back in and made "We Will Never Forget 9/11" badges and we made American Flags (that I am going to keep and put up for Veterans Day/Memorial Day!  Some of my students even wore their badges back to school the next day!  

Get a FREE copy of the 9/11 badges HERE!

I am SO excited about this group of Firsties!!!  Fingers crossed that after 3rd Friday count, they won't fill my classroom to the limit.  I wish more school districts understood the power of smaller class sizes!

In just 9 days, my students are using oral writing amazingly & already beginning to teach calendar time on their own using WBT!  I cannot tell you how proud of them I already am!

I will be posting more pics of what we are doing in Whole Brain Teaching very soon so check back often!

We are still new bloggers so please comment and make my day!

Happy (Whole Brain) Teaching!
~ Heidi

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The 1st Days....

Good Sunday Evening!

I cannot believe I made it through the first week of school already!  What an exhausting {but good} week it was!  So far so good in First Grade!  I am starting this year with 20 LESS - YES, I said 20 LESS - students than I started with last year!  I feel so much more organized and able to get things done (like actually teach)!  I'm praying they keep it this way... after all, we ARE a priority school!

Anyway, the 1st week was productive and I wanted to share a couple things we did with you!  

Whole Brain Teaching is off to an amazing start!  We did the 5 Rules, Class/Yes, Teach/OK (in the form of "tell your neighbor"), College Talk, and some Oral Writing!

I made a WBT Classroom Rule book for students and you can get it for FREE here!

I also made FREE WBT Rules and Basics posters for my jungle theme and you can pick up your copy here!

We started centers this week also!  (I am not sure I have ever started practicing centers in the 1st week of school before!)  I start out with the students just doing center activities that they already know just to practice the concept & practice cleaning up and lining up.

One of my favorite new ideas this year is adding gardening gloves from the Dollar Store to my writing center as erasers!  The students love using these!

Another activity we did is the same activity I did in our PBIS Presentation for Staff before school started!  Each child colored a puzzle piece and then they had to work together to put the puzzle together.  They struggled at first because my stronger personalities wanted to be in charge and my quieter students just kind of stood in the back and were unsure what to do!  I let them struggle for a little while and then started giving suggestions on ways to get the job done.  Finally, they figured it out!

Afterwards, we talked about how hard it was when only one person tried to do it on their own and how much easier it was when they worked together.  We talked about how this applies to our lives and in our classroom.  The kids did really well!

The students also did self-portraits with their names {I will post pictures soon}!  I am using this as a display in the hallway for now.  

The only writing I am planning to do before Christmas is for assessment purposes and in our writing centers.  Going for Mrs. Shipley's success with doing just oral writing until after Christmas... **fingers crossed**!

Along with the self-portraits, I interviewed each student and made these pictures.  When they come down from out in the hall, I will send them home for parents!  Stole this idea from a friend who does this every year for her own children!

So, that was my first week in a nutshell!  I need to get a digital camera since mine broke and it is quite annoying to use my phone to take all these pics!  Hopefully I will get one soon so I can easily share more pictures with you all!


My fiance is officially out of the Army and just arrived for good this weekend!  It is so weird that he doesn't have to leave again!  After over a year and a half of long distance, costly plane tickets, and too much time alone, he is actually here!

Excited for all my new adventures this year and to be able to share them all with you!

Have a GREAT week and PLEASE leave me a comment!