Sunday, September 30, 2012

So Cal Blogger Meet Up ~ Pictures Speak 1,000 Words

~Blogger Meet Ups will always hold a special place in our hearts.~
We will always remember our first one just a few months back. We were total newbies, blogging a whole 3 days! But, to meet face to face with a few of our favorite bloggers and meet some new friends too was a day we are grateful for each and every day as this journey continues. 

So, when Hadar announced on her blog that we were doing it again, we jumped at the opportunity! We are "people persons" and sitting down face to face with other bloggers really makes this whole blogging thing feel like "real life" ~ Or, we're sorry in Common Core Lingo "non-fiction".  We're sooo P.C C.C!

It was a day of talking, eating, talking, sipping iced tea, talking, laughing, talking, talking, and talking. 
It was wonderful! To sit down with a group of dedicated teachers and share, compare, and make each other aware is just what we needed to push us into October!

Thanks for a FABULOUS afternoon Ladies!


The only thing missing was Christy, but her hubby and her are away in Dallas for a 40th Birthday Celebration! Next time...
And there will definitely be a next time! 

If you're not already following these fabulous blogs, be sure to check them out!  


                  Fancy Free in Fourth                               Lessons with Laughter



                     






Thursday, September 27, 2012

Raise Your Cool Blue and Repeat After Me!

We are now in week 4 of school and really starting to get into the groove of First Grade. We've been reviewing our phonics, sounding out words, working on blending, and writing up a storm! 

We introduced our Cool Blue Capital Pens *click the link to read more* the other day, and wouldn't you know it ~ 
they're getting it we're learning!

We are noticing that a few of our friends are sprinkling capitals in the miDdle of a woRd or Writing their entire sentence in blue. We get it. They're super cool pens! It's hard to contain your excitement! 
 But, put the pen down and back away slowly little friends because you are in serious cool blue violation ~ Don't make us revoke your cool perks! 
Except this one. 
This little can keep their pen just for using the word "cosday" (translation='because they') in their writing. 
That is awesome! We love First Grade inventive spelling!

The pens were controlling them, not the other way around. So we had our little lecture chat about being in control of when and where the Cool Blues should be used. 

We also noticed some were capitalizing the first word of e.v.e.r.y line in their journals and quickly remembered that they have no self-control they do that! 
They think "Capitals are at the beginning of a sentence." but their pen says, "The first word of every line gets a Cool Blue. Let's DO this!"
 
So we learned a little lesson on the difference between the beginning of a Sentence  
and the beginning of a Line. 
(A very tricky concept for a 6 year old, apparently! 
Our brains hurt, so we can only imagine.)

We took a roll of Adding Machine Tape and wrote out the same sentence that our friend did on their paper onto the tape. We then asked our students where the Cool Blues should go.
 We took scissors and cut the adding tape so the words matched the words that were 
on each writing line of their paper.
We pointed out where the Cool Blues were now and they immediately noticed that the first words of the lines were not capitalized. It was a great visual lesson for those friends who are still learning how to be cool the proper use of capitals. 

We finished up by making them raise their right hands and repeat after us...Because really, if we pledge it, it will happen. It's teachers rights or class law or something like that. Right? And, frankly we cannot carve it in stone or write it in blood at school, so the good old fashioned raise your right hand and repeat after me is the best we can do...and they do it, no questions or eye rolls! 
Ah, the joys of first grade...

Raise your Cool Blue Capital Pens and Repeat After Me...
I promise...I promise
To act my coolest...To act my coolest
when using my cool blue capital pen...when using my cool blue capital pen
I will save it...I will save it
for the coolest letters...for the coolest letters
of them all...of them all
THE CAPITALS!
THE CAPITALS!

Someone squeaks out an Amen...From their mouth to God's ears! 
So, we're going to keep begging our local cashiers for any extra rolls of adding tape and keep praying that us teachers can keep our cool "COSDAY" really can handle their Cool Blues!





Friday, September 21, 2012

Stick to Good Behavior: Sticker Board Classroom Management Motivator

Even after 15 years of teaching first grade, we are constantly rethinking our behavior management system. What may have worked last year, doesn't quite pack the same punch this year. Then suddenly, that circa 1999 teaching trick we thought we retired along with our potato sack dresses, works like a charm! Kids are funny that way...Unpredictable, yet totally predictable at the same time.

We have found one thing that has stayed pretty predictable over the years...
 Kids LOVE stickers!
and
Kids LOVE to collect stickers!
We start each school year by giving our students their own Sticker Board. We print them on construction paper or card stock for durability. They keep them in their desks, and whenever we're working in our seats, they know to take these puppies out. They place them on the corner of their desks because someone (That's us!) is always watching. We catch them left and right and have loads of stickers for the taking!
With Common Core in full force, we added 10 Frames to our Sticker Boards this year. Wow...you should hear the math flying each time they get a sticker. Music to our ears! 
"I just got my 6th one! That means I only need 4 more!"
A+
"I just filled up 10 plus 5 more. That's 15!"
A+ +
We're really glad we added the 10 Frames! Who knew?
Dare we say, thank you Common Core?!? 


Some students may not need the 10 Frames as much, so we made a blank Sticker Board option as well.

The 10 Frames Sticker Board is set up to collect 20 stickers. The blank board can be set at any goal you choose. In past years, we've increased the goal to higher numbers as the year goes on. 

Once our students collect their 20 (or however many) stickers, they are responsible for writing numbers next to each of their stickers, then turning it in for a trip to our class Trash Treasure Chest. We use the term "treasure" lightly, but to them it is super treasury. Mostly made up of donated fast food meal toys, cleaned out junk drawer goodies from former students, Mom deliveries of "Please hurry and take it. I can't take the mess anymore!" and really anything *free* we can throw in there that they would like to choose. They gladly dig for the perfect prize!
 It definitely gives new meaning to 
"One person's trash, is another person's treasure."
Stickers are given out by the teacher, parent volunteers, or we keep a "Sticker Station" in our class where we invite students to pick their own sticker when they earn it.
Class Rule: 
You have to receive an invitation to the Sticker Station. 
No showing up uninvited!
 They love this, but we've learned over the years that some love it more than others. A little too much love, as in lingering love at the sticker tub...
So, what do us teachers do when little ones find the loopholes? We make more rules! Hahahaha.
We have a rule in our class when picking a sticker...
Take 2 from the tub (no peeking)
Take a look at both of them
Keep the 1 You Want to Keep
Put the Other 1 Back for a Friend
It's worked really well for us over the years, and
we're happy to share our Sticker Boards with you!
Looking for more classroom management ideas? 
Here's a few more of our favorite tips and tricks!
  Champs classroom behavior management

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall into First Grade: Common Core Math & Literacy Activities for the Season

Happy Almost Fall Y'All! 
Can you believe it? 
We are knee neck deep in first grade and the days are flying by faster than we can count to 100...or 26 for one of us, but we will be pulling that friend aside for a little one on one assistance ASAP

We are working hard to learn all of our procedures in class, and are trying ever so diligently to get our "Workshop" going as well. You might know this time as Centers, Small Groups, Guided Reading Time ~ Basically that time when us teachers need to be left alone! working with our loves in smaller groups.  You know? To meet their needs!

We have forever and always called it Workshop...not so much for the "shop" aspect, but more for the "work". We love to point out that this compound word has the little word "work" in it - As in them-working-the whole time! They immediately catch on, then take a severe and swift turn into left field, equating us to Santa and themselves to elves. This is definitely first grade!! In our heads, we give a "Ho, Ho, Ho" and play along, as long as it means our little elves will work their little fingers to the bone all the way until the holidays! 

It got us thinking...working until the holidays...Hmmm

The Result?
Fall into First Grade: Common Core Math and Literacy Activities for the Season

With Common Core Standards in full swing, we wanted to give our Firsties as many opportunities as possible with these gems. We also know there are only so many hours in each day, and the list of standards to cover is longer than Santa's Naughty List...we hope. The school bells went off in our heads ~ Workshop! 

We created over 15 Math and Literacy activities tied to the first grade common core standards for our biggest unit yet! 
We're not going to fall into first grade, we're going to leap right in because centers are planned and prepped until winter...
And, they all cover the Common Core!
Fall Leaves, Fall!

Here's a peek at a few of the activities included ~


How did we make those cutie patootie pumpkins?
 
Spray paint yourself a batch of lima beans orange, 
then use a black permanent marker to draw a jack-o-lantern face!

Each activity includes Teacher Notes for quick prep and a ready to use Directions Card with activity instructions, extension or variation ideas for differentiated learning, and the Common Core standard printed right there for easy reference! With a whopping 110 pages, you'll be set for the season, with maybe even a little time for yourself to exercise the "shop" part of Workshop with all the time you'll be saving in lesson plans! 
Bring on Fall Y'all!

Just for you early birds who realize we are still technically in Summer (and boy, does the weather feel like it here in Southern California. Eesh!), you can grab our 
Fall into First Grade: Common Core Math and Literacy Activities for the Season 
ON SALE
until the First day of Fall, September 22nd! 
This is a quick sale just for our Blog and Facebook Buddies, 
so grab it fast!

Click the scarecrow to head over to our TpT Shop and grab it on sale before the first leaf falls! 



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Got Flashcards?

Two Dollar Trees, a bit of after work traffic, two starving kids in the back seat with loads of homework waiting until later,
And we've got them!
{insert hint of sarcasm...just in case you didn't catch it in our voice}

Thursday is Back to School Night for us - Better known to some of you as, "Meet the Teacher", "Parent Night" or "Summer's Done, Get Over It Night!". It is our chance to talk to BIG people. 
In little chairs.

 At Back to School Night, our parents receive a gift. 
From the heart. 
Aren't they all?
We grab a set of flashcards for each student at the Dollar Tree. 
Did we mention we had to go to two different stores tonight?
Oh, okay...
Just checking.
And, no we are not going to discuss the fact that we waited until the last minute and this is completely our own fault.
Ok...
We will!
We usually hand these out at our parent conferences in October, but we decided to give them out early so families can start practicing. 

Having this idea is not the problem.

Having this idea last night at 9:30pm when we had to be at school at 7:30am is a bit of a problem.

Finding only 4 at one store (not getting them), traveling to another store several miles away to find only 16 (getting them), then returning to the first store to get the original 4 (got them!!)...Yep, problem!

We know what you're thinking...
The REAL problem is we only needed to buy 20!!
Please don't hate us...
We've gotten your emails. 
We feel your pain.
We actually have 21 students.
And, some of them are REALLY tall.
And, our classroom is small...or, we mean...cramped...we mean...little...
~Oh Geez~
Who are we kidding?
We know. We're lucky. 
You "30 Plussers" can hate.
In a nice way...please


We created labels for the flashcard boxes with a catchy phrase so they get the hint they understand why they are receiving this special gift. All gifts should come with a card right? It's proper etiquette! 
We print the labels on sheets that have 6 labels to a page. 
We used Avery #5164, but we admit...sometimes we just print them on plain old paper, chop them on our paper cutter, and good old fashion glue them on. We're so old school!

We stick the labels to the front of the box and add a binder ring to the hole in the package.
We encourage parents to punch holes in the top left corner of each flashcard and stick them on the ring.

Now...
They've got flashcards to go!
And presents! 
And, we're happy! 
Because they promise they are going to practice!

And, them?
Their faces are in shock.
We think this might be the best present they've EVER received!
They're speechless!
We're so happy!!!
{insert hint of sarcasm...just in case you didn't catch it in our voice}



Want to give your families a hint present too?
We changed our own label to say "student" instead of first grader to share with you!

Click any of the pics below to grab it *free* 
 
We created labels for addition, subtraction, 
multiplication and division.
Print the one that works best for you!








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