Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Conversation Linky

So it seems that I have fallen off the face of the blogging Earth for the past month or so.  Getting better at blogging is one of my resolutions for 2015 - so please don't give up on me just yet.

I thought I would jump back in with a post filled with holiday spirit, which is why the Christmas Conversation Linky over at The Inspired Apple is perfect.  Especially since it is Christmas Eve!!!
So here it is:

I love the holidays so much - every single part!  My favorite part is that I have two weeks off of school to relax, regroup and spend time with my husband.  We spent five hours in the kitchen today cooking a feast for just the two of us, and it was DELICIOUS.  Now that we have cleaned up we are relaxing for a bit until 7:00 when are going to watch It's a Wonderful Life and drink some hot chocolate. And I always look forward to the midnight church service on Christmas Eve.  We are attending a new church this year so I am excited to see what this service will be like. 

This is such a wonderful time of the year and I feel so blessed.  I can't wait to see what next year brings, but for now I am going to enjoy the holidays and relax.

Enjoy the holiday season with your families!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Interactive Short Vowel Books

Hip Hip Hooray!!!  I finished all of the interactive short vowel phonics books (finally!)  -  I missed my deadline of the end of October by one day, but at least I made it before we change the clocks back.  I can't wait to share these with you so that you can share them with your students.  So here is the big reveal ;)

There is a book for each short vowel (CVC) and they all have the same layout.  They are also in an easy to construct layout - you just copy, staple and cut.  There are two books to a page - the pictures in this post show a constructed book.  Each book has a cover page:
On the first page (although the pages can be put in any order) the students are asked to sort cards by the word families.  There are three options for this sort: all pictures, mixed pictures and words or all words.  In the picture below, I used the mixed pictures and words option:
Then, the students are asked to sort cards by whether they have the short vowel sound or not.  There are also three options for this sort: all pictures, mixed pictures and words or all words - as you can see, I am a fan of the mixed option (:
Thoughts so far?  My students loved these two pages because they were cutting and gluing right into their little book!
On the next page, the students are asked to draw a line matching the picture to the word.  I like this page because it shows that they can read the word and that they understand what that word is.
The next page is similar to the previous one...this time the students paste the matching word underneath each picture.
 This next page was my students favorite page.  One sweet student said that it was 'tricky for her brain'... I love first graders!  The students have to unscramble the letters to make a word, then they have to color the picture that matches the word that they just unscrambled.
Are you still with me?  I know it is a lot but this book can be completed over the course of a few days or all in one's up to you!
On the next page, the students read each sentence and draw a line to the matching picture.  The students colored their pictures after they matched...but I was a little lazy in my sample (:
The next page is similar, this time the students read the sentence and add details to the picture so that it matches the sentence.  My students got a real kick out of my fan - I guess drawing is not my thing!
Phew!  There are still more --the next page is a simple page in which the students fill in the blank with a word to finish the sentence so that it matches the picture.
This next page is one of my favorites - my students can always use extra practice on rhyming words!  The students read the word in the top of the box and color the pictures that rhyme with that word.
We made it to the last page!!  This one really puts the students' understanding of the phonics skill to the test because they have to read a short passage and show understanding of the passage by coloring parts of the picture.

Voila!  And those are the pages in each interactive short vowel phonics books.  The answer keys are included at the end of the file.  My students absolutely loved this little book - especially since they were able to take it home when they were finished with it.  There are many different ways to use it in the classroom - I used it as a brief review of the skill at the beginning of my small groups.

I would love to hear your thoughts!!  Based on the response to these I have hopes of making interactive phonics books for blends and long vowels (CVCe).

Hooray!  Now I am going to sit back and cuddle up with some hot chocolate - I feel like this cold weather came out of nowhere!!  Click on the picture below if you would like to grab the file - it's on sale for this weekend only.

Have a great weekend (:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November Currently

Two posts in one weekend... mark it down in the record books!!  But I couldn't pass up the November Currently post with Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade - plus, I am already curled up with the computer in my lap - so why not??

I am curled up by the fireplace and loving the sound.  I cannot say that I am loving this cold weather though.  Where in the world did it come from?  I feel like one minute it was beautiful outside and then BAM the cold weather hit.  Ugh.

I L.O.V.E. Thanksgiving.  The family, the food, the football, the food, the games, the food...did I mention the food?  I can't wait for some mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole all mixed together with some turkey!  Mmmmm....

This month is going to fly by!  This week is a four day week (Election Day is on Tuesday - teachers have to go, but no students), the following week is a four day week (no school for Veteran's Day), the week after that is a full week and then the last week in November is only two days (Thanksgiving break).  Where has all of the time gone??

I had a whole two trick-or-treaters.  Yea, I know it was hard to handle all those kids.  But now I am stuck with all this leftover candy and I do NOT need to be the one to eat it.  Maybe I will go give the leftovers to the neighbor kids.

I need to get a head start on my Christmas shopping this year because I always wait until the last minute.  Not this year!  I am going to make a plan and get started on it early so that I can enjoy the days before Christmas.

I picked up the book 'Orphan Train' and just started it.  So far I like it!!

That's what I'm doing about you??  Happy November (:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Scoop

I am linking up with Teaching Trio's Sunday Scoop for the first time this month! 
Here is my Sunday Scoop:
3 Things I Have to Do:

1) I put off grading papers every single week...then I somehow end up with a stack that is so overwhelming that I put it off until Sunday night.  Last year I made a New Year's Resolution to not leave school until everything from that day was graded, entered into the gradebook and filed.  It was fabulous - it only took about 15 minutes every day and I regained my Sunday nights.  Yea...I'm not sure what happened to that.  So needless to say, I am staring at the stack of papers that I need to grade and doing everything I can to avoid it.

2)  I started watching the show "How to Get Away With Murder" on ABC.  I'm still not sure how I feel about it.    I really like to story line but it seems to drag on a little bit.  I missed last week's episode so I think I will catch up on that while I grade papers.

3)  October weather in Tennessee is always crazy - we have had the heat on for two weeks and then this morning we wake up to 80 degrees.  The crazy weather must have gotten the ladybugs moving because they are EVERYWHERE.  I don't even know how they get in!  We have been vacuuming them up every chance we get - but more just keep coming!  I am going to head over to Google for a solution :)

2 Things I Hope to Do:

1) I would love to go to bed at a reasonable hour tonight!  For the past few weeks I have either crashed on the couch by 8:00 or been wide awake at 2 a.m.  Tonight I would like to stay up until 10:30, and then head upstairs to bed.  Crazy, right?

2)  Since the weather is so beautiful, I really hope to take the dogs for a nice walk!  We have such a pretty neighborhood that hardly has any traffic - and there is an open field at the end of the cul-de-sac that they can run around in.  They definitely need to run off some energy.

1 Thing I am Happy to Do:

1) Work on the short vowel phonics books so I can have them posted by Friday.  I am so excited to get these finished - my students loved the short a book that I tested out on them!

Well, that is my Sunday Scoop!  I hope you enjoy your week :)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

You Oughta Know About Sheet Protectors

As a teacher I use more than my share of sheet protectors.  But today, I am linking up with Mrs. McClain for her "You Oughta Know" blog hop to tell you about a different way to use sheet protectors.
I love the use of whiteboards in the classroom - especially when I can customize them.  And that is exactly what you can do with sheet protectors!  All you need is a pack of sheet protectors and a piece of cardboard to put in each.  You can use them in every subject area and the students love them.  Here are some examples of how we use them:

This week we are working on fact families.  I printed out the a fact family house, put one in each sheet protector and we were able to use them every day for multiple examples. 

Earlier this year we used them for word problems.  I printed out a blank organizer and put one in each sheet protector.  Then, each student got a bag of word problems that we could slide right in.  You can see the bag of word problems in the right hand corner of the first picture.

We also used them for 10 more/10 less and number lines.

The examples that I have pictures of are just in math, but we also use them in reading.  I put a blank retell page in there and give the students a bag of short stories that they can retell.  You could also use a blank Venn Diagram, a blank main idea and details organizer -- the possibilities are endless.  It gives a twist on the traditional whiteboards and provides unlimited possibilities.

I would love to hear about how you would use sheet protectors in your room with your students!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Liebster Award Nomination

I am thrilled to say that my little blog has been nominated for the Liebster Award!  This is an award for new bloggers who have less than 200 followers but who have great content and potential.
I was nominated by two bloggers - Christina at Christina's Kinder Blossoms and Joya at Live.Love.Serve.Teach - thank you both for your nominations!

As part of being nominated I have to answer the following 11 questions and then nominate 11 blogs with less than 200 followers.

1.  Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
I love reading posts on all of the different teaching blogs that are out there and they have helped me gain so many ideas for my classroom that I wanted to do the same for others.  Also, a little selfishly, I wanted to get more traffic to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.   I just started my blog this summer (2014).

2.  What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?
Reality is the word that I would have to pick...and the word that is the main reason that I have such a hard time finding things to blog about.  When I went into teaching I had so many wonderful ideas about what it would consist of.  Then, reality set in and I realized that there is a lot more that goes in to teaching than I ever thought.  I love reading about the cute centers and units that so many teachers are able to do in their classrooms, but the reality of it all is that I do not have the time nor the ability to do those things in my room.  Also, with Common Core as a new reality in many states, and barely any materials for the lower grades, I wanted to provide a blog that gave other teachers in this same position ideas and resources that have helped me along the way. 

3.  Is there something you learned late in your blog journey you wished you knew before?  Write down every.single.idea.  Yea, it sounds simple and obvious - but I would be driving home from school thinking about this great blog post I could do.  By the time I actually got around to writing it, the idea was long gone.  So now I have note cards everywhere that are covered with ideas to blog about! 

4.  What is your favorite past time other than blogging?    
Reading and running.  I love finding a good book and curling up with it.  I get so caught up in the story and feel that each character is a part of my life.  I also love running.  I am terrible at it.  Probably the slowest runner that has ever actually considered themselves a runner.  I get passed by power walkers...yea, I am that slow.  And I have such a love/hate relationship with running.  I hate it when I am getting ready to go, I hate it when I am running, and I hate it the next day when my muscles ache.  But I love the feeling I get when I run a little farther and a little faster.  And I love the feeling of exhaustion afterwards - no room for worrying about lesson plans, what my observation scores were, how much I still need to do to prep for the next day - room to worry about anything.  

5.  How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog?
Not enough.  I have a very hard time finding things to write about that other bloggers want to read about (in my mind).  That is one of my goals - to dedicate more time to my blog and to get better at actually posting!  

6.  What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most? 
I love teaching phonics, creating resources for phonics and posting about phonics.  I also love reading about what other teachers do with phonics.  One of my current obsessions is interactive notebooks!  I also enjoy posting about organization in the classroom.  I love finding new ways to organize the countless materials that we have as teachers.

7.  Where does your blog inspiration come from?
 My classroom and my students.  I love what I do and I love the students that I work with.  They are the ones that keep me inspired (and give me things to write about) .

8.  Which post that you've written are you most proud of?
One of my favorite posts (because of how much it has helped me this year) is about how I organized my unit materials {here}.  I love this method so much that I am currently in the process of storing my reading, math and language materials the same way.

9.  Is there any post you've been planning to do but have been postponing it for awhile now?
 Well, if you looked at my note cards full of ideas there are a million different ones!  I had been postponing posting about the phonics books that I have been working on but finally got around to it in my Five for Friday post {here} - it is number 5! 

10.  What is your favorite aspect of blogging?
Being able to document everything happening in my classroom.  I like being able to go back and look at my earlier posts.  I can't wait until a few years go by and I am able to look back at some of my first couple of posts!  It is almost like a diary of everything that happens in my classroom and I love that it is all written down.

11.  Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would you be most likely to try yourself? Considering that I was nominated by two fabulous bloggers here are the two ideas from their blogs that I would like to try:

From Live.Love.Serve.Teach I can't wait to try the Splat game for rhyming.  I have a few students this year who struggle with motivation - and any type of game I can find helps with this.  I know that they would absolutely love this game!!
From Christina's Kinder Blossoms I am loving the Pinch Cards idea and can't wait to try this with my students!  We use dry erase boards so much that they start to lose their luster.  I think that these pinch cards would be a great way to throw in something new and exciting. 

Now it's time for the nominations!

 1.  Zoe at Oh the Little Wonders
 2.  Paige at Paiges of Learning
 3.  Kristin & Lindsey at 2 Literacy Teachers 
 4.  Whitney at First Grade Round-up
 5.  Kelly at Lattes and Lunchrooms
 6.  Allie at The Positive Teacher
 7.  Abbie at Steppin' up the First Grade
 8.  Allyson at Going Strong in Second Grade
 9.  Jasmine at The Dots of Teaching
10.  Ana at Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard
11.  Ashley and Jana at We Heart 1st 

I hope the nomination brings you more followers and readers (and I hope I only nominated blogs that qualify - I checked and triple checked!).  I enjoy reading your blogs and connecting with you!

Now that you've been nominated here are the official "rules" for accepting:
1. In your post link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and "shout out".
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you (the ones I answered above).
3. Nominate 11 blogs that have less than 200 followers each.  Provide them with 11 questions or have them answer the questions above.
4. Let your nominees know they've been nominated and provide them with a link back to your post so that they can accept.
5. Send your nominator a link to your post so s/he can learn more about you as well.  (You can just put your post link in the comments below).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five for Friday {Linky Party}
I am so excited to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!  I always love reading these posts on everyone's blogs and now it is my turn to get in on the action.

So here it goes...
 We have been working so hard on informative writing in my classroom and the students have done such a great job!  

We started off by introducing informative writing using the are, can, have layout (the kids LOVE this).  Here is the organizer that we used - click on the picture to download a few different options of the organizer.

We spent a lot of time working on brainstorming.  When the students had that down, we moved on to adding details...which started off like pulling teeth slow.  It took a lot of modeling to help the students understand that the detail had to actually give more information about the sentence it was connected to.  After weeks of modeling and practicing we were finally ready to try it out on our pumpkin writing.  And I am thrilled to say that they did a great job!  Here are a few of the writings:

(I forgot to take a picture of the second page if their writing ran over!  Oops...)

I am so proud of them and how well they did on these!  I can't wait to see how their writing continues to improve throughout the year.

This one goes with the pumpkin writing.  A first grade writing wouldn't be complete without a craft!!

We used small orange paper squares and covered a paper plate to make it look like a pumpkin.  Then, I gave each student a small piece of brown and green paper and they made a stem and leaves.  I love how each one is unique!  It was amazing to watch how carefully they worked on these.  When I modeled it for them, I just glued the orange squares on the paper plate haphazardly...not the students!  They were so meticulous about it - it was cute to watch (:  I think it brightened up our little hallway.

This one is a random 'ah-ha' moment.  

My husband and I love to play games - board games, card games, word games - you name it and we play it.  One of our favorite games is Phase 10.
Something that we always struggled with was keeping track of what phase we were on.  Until now.  Enter the paperclip tracker.  Yep, it is as easy as that!  We put a paperclip on each card and now we can just slide it down to keep track of what phase we are on.  (By the way I won last night!)

I can't believe that it is almost Halloween!

I love decorating for holidays and we started putting up our Halloween decor this weekend.  Our neighbor had a Halloween party last weekend and she had spiderwebs on all of her picture frames.  I loved how it looked (and how easy it was) so I stole the idea for my own house.

We have only lived in our house for three years, so I do not have very many decorations, but it is fun to add a little bit every year (especially when I am able to save so much at the sales afterwards).

This is something new that I have been working on...and I can't wait to share it with you (and get some feedback)!

There are so many great interactive notebooks available.  I use them weekly and my kids love them!  I am even in the process of making some of my own.  But as much as I absolutely love interactive notebooks, sometimes I just need something quick and easy.  So I created a phonics booklet.  Each page is a quick activity that allows the students to work with the phonics skill.  The students could do one page each day or they could complete the booklet it one sitting.  

Here is what it looks like:

There are 10 pages for the students to complete.  Each page has a different activity that corresponds with the phonics skill.  Here are some close ups of a few of the pages:

Here are all of the pages that are included in the book.

I would love to hear your feedback!  My goal is to have all of the short vowel phonics booklets completed by the end of the month. 

There is a peek at all of the random things from the week - enjoy your Friday!