Thursday, December 6, 2012

Doubles plus one equals what?!?

After attending a great math conference in Chicago last week, I couldn't wait to come back and try out all the new strategies I had learned.  I'm happy to say that just in the short time I've had this week, I'm already seeing some positive changes and more "lights" are turning on!  Today we continued to work on doubles (2+2=4, 4+4=8, etc) and how we can find a double (new strategy) in an addition problem in order to help us add the numbers together.  For instance, we can look at 5+6 as 5+5+1 -- finding the double and adding one more.  We can look at 5+7 as 5+5+2 -- finding the double and adding two more.  It all sounds as simple as can be, doesn't it!?  Well, try to get 26 first graders to catch on and you've got yourself a challenge!  We made doubles flip books today to help students remember their doubles facts -- they practiced and quizzed each other afterward.  They are learning more and more that math is not just about numbers -- it's about patterns -- taking things apart and putting things together.  I never looked at math that way when I was first learning -- I certainly wish I would have -- it would have been way more fun!

The Christmas Spirit of GIVING!

Our first grade classroom successfully collected A LOT of toys and money for the Otsego County Toys for Tots program. (It's hard to tell from this picture, but there is a lot there!)  We chose this charity to help this season because of a recent fire that destroyed their entire donation collection.  I'm sure many people and groups came together to replenish what was lost, but my students only saw the pile of toys in our classroom grow day by day and it made them feel very proud!  Many students and members of our staff helped collect donations and they were all picked up today by Katie Liedtke who volunteered to drive them over to Gaylord for delivery!  THANK YOU to everyone who gave toys and money!  Your Christmas Spirit is ALIVE!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We Rocked the VOTE!

This week in first grade we have been talking about today's big election and I expressed to my students how important it is to go out and vote.  The electricity in the air today was magnificent -- they were all so excited!  It was the first thing they asked me about when they walked in the classroom:  "Do we get to vote now?"   We discussed that being able to vote is not something every person around the world has the right to do, but we here in America do and should exercise that right.  The girls in the class were all completely confused when I told them that women did not always have the right to vote and for some reason we had to fight and argue in order to receive that right.  So today each student in my classroom checked off the box for who they thought should be our President.  We took a look at yesterday and read up on some facts about each candidate and today they made a choice.  Tomorrow we will see if their choice matched up to the rest of America's.
We also wrote today about what we would do if we were President.  Here is a sample:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bits and Pieces...

I was up in my classroom on this rainy Sunday evening, attempting to make a dent in what I need to have prepared for the week when I remembered that I should post something new and exciting to our First Grade Fan Club blog.  Hmmmm....something exciting on a rainy day....what could it be? What could it be?  I looked around the room, congratulating myself for cleaning up the place on Friday before I left rather than leaving it for looked as if homecoming and Halloween exploded in my room and there were bits and pieces of it everywhere.  Bits and pieces....I started looking around and thinking that there are several bits and pieces in the room that are exciting to me as the teacher.  I don't know if YOUR socks will be blown off, but mine were!   My students started writing focused pieces last week -- we went from writing two words about something to writing four sentences in a week!  I was proud of that!  We paired up our cat writing with a water color painting -- I love how we all painted the same thing, but each one looks so different from the next.  We also did a pumpkin writing.  I had students re-write and illustrate the writing.  We hung them on the wall and they are all proud.  I also noticed our Writing Pride wall is full -- each child is coming to me daily with something else they have written -- whether it be a little book about farm animals or all of our word wall words copied down -- they are excited to write, which gets me excited!  We also had an afternoon last week where the weather ruined our Science plans, so we had to come up with a Plan B.  My Plan B is always ART.  :) I can't help it.  We made some quick scarecrow paintings and again...they are all so creative.  I'm was also made very proud this past week with my students and how they conduct themselves during our (modified) Daily Five.  They are expected to work independently -- and that scared me to death at first.  But, I decided to just let them go and see how they would do with such a responsibility:  they did great!  My socks were blown clear across the room!  First grade is all about change and it all happens at a fast pace -- if you blink you might miss some of the most important bits and pieces!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm a Teacher!

The classroom is quiet.  The kids have gone home.  I'm sitting here eating my almonds and looking out over the room.  I love seeing the "aftermath" of a great day:  new writing hanging up on the Writing Pride wall, all GREEN cards looking at me from the behavior chart, things put back in the actual places they belong, and a nice stack of papers for me to check.  The room is now empty, but I can still hear the voices of little learners coming to me with their work held up in my face, asking me to look at what they accomplished.  I smile at the thought of my little mover & shaker sitting still for 24 minutes and busily completing his work.  I've never seen such a look of concentration on his face.  When he finished I praised him for such great work and asked him how he felt.  "I feel pretty good!" he replied.  I gush at the moment today when members of our classroom started to tell another student that they "believed he could do it" when the student was feeling he had enough work for the day.  I grin at the thought of my little girl who has such a hard time sharing offering her snack to a student who came without today.  Yes, she offered because she "hates those darn cheese things," but the fact is: she SHARED.  It's days like these when I look around the room after the kids have gone home, smile and I think, "Yup.  I'm a teacher."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Writing to Learn & Learning to Write!

We are learning so much already in First Grade, including how to write more!  After having several students copy exactly what I had on the board during writing time, it dawned on me that some of them don't realize that they can make up stories!  They can think of things that happened to them and write them down!  In a class where getting all 25 to pay attention to me at once can be difficult, hearing this golden nugget of information was captivating to them!  They were so excited to hear that all of the information they have in their minds could be put on paper and shared with others!  Today we talked about a way to get those ideas out on paper in a writing strategy called "Sketch-to-Write."  The idea is to make small sketches (beginning-middle-end) of their writing idea and then to write a sentence (or ten!) next to the sketch to explain what is going on.  For some students this idea was the next best thing since sliced bread....or has it always come sliced for them? 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I know, I is NOT the picture of health, but it IS the picture of Teacher Survival 101.  There are times when I have to break the glass and reach for my tools to get me through the rough days....and when that happens I reach for chocolate and Coca-Cola or Coffee.  In fact, this morning I dreamed that I had a coffee maker right on my desk -- one of those fancy ones where you put the little cup of coffee grounds in and it instantly makes you a hot, delicious cup of joe.  I'm in need of one of those.  So, excuse me as I take a moment to inhale this chocolate and caffeine -- is it Friday?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bubble Mania!!

Today in Science we discussed whether we could make square bubbles if we used square-shaped bubble makers.  The prediction was an overwhelming YES.  The verdict was an overwhelming NOPE!  :)  We had fun, learned how to work as teams, and enjoyed the challenge of making bubbles on a windy day!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Introducing Bloose the Moose!

Our second week of school is off to a quick start!  Monday we had a great day back and got lots of work accomplished.  Tuesday was a little challenging -- perhaps it's the sunshine outside our windows or that distant calling of "reeeeceessss! reeeeccceeesssss!"  I'm not sure, but our behavior today needed a little work!  Speaking of behavior....let me introduce you to Bloose the Moose!  Bloose is one of my best friends.  How does he work?  If students have a tattle (and we first discuss what a tattle is) they know to come and write in Bloose's notebook.  Bloose hears a lot of stories!  Some kids get pushed in line, some students feel they have been robbed of their rightful place in that same line, and some students think that others are being too loud in line!  Whatever the tattle is, Bloose gets to hear about it.  I read Bloose's notebook weekly and find out if there are any tattles that require more than Bloose can offer, but for the most part...they are just that: tattles.  So, let's hear it for Bloose the Moose!  Hip Hip Hooray!  Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

It's a Heat Wave!

Flashes of the Wicked Witch of the West flood through my brain during hot weeks like this, and I just keep repeating, "I'm melting!  I'm meeeeltiing!"  It's just too hot!  I look at the weather report every morning hoping for a cool down, but it hasn't come yet...hopefully tomorrow.  In the meantime, we will continue to melt away and push full force through our day! 

The new first grade students have been doing very well considering the heat -- they get a little squirrely at times, but it's to be expected.  I'm happy with how things are going so far -- moving through the first week or two (or three!) of school always keeps  me nervous.  I want to move into "the work" but I also want to make sure they have "the rules."  Today, we moved on and did some work in Reading -- reviewed the sounds for short /a/ and /b/.  We added the word my to our word wall and practiced writing it on our white boards.  We have started our daily calendar routine -- parents might be surprised to see all that first graders will know with calendar by the end of the year -- it's not just about names of days and counting!  I found a very cool calendar routine on Pinterest and made one for my own room.  Here is the one I copied from: 
So onward and upward we move!  I'm looking forward to cooler weather where students aren't melting into their seats and walking across the classroom doesn't cause me to breakout in a flop sweat.  :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Phew! What a RUSH!

We had our first day of school today and boy was it awesome!  Each one of my 26 students came filing into their classroom, found their seats and happily shared exciting stories together.  I saw cameras going off, parents giving quick reassuring hugs to new students and teachers helping others get into the right rooms.  It is a busy, busy day on opening day of school!  There is so much excitement and so much happening!  I just read recently that it would be nice to see that much excitement for EVERY day of school!  Can you imagine taking a picture of your child for every day of school?  There's a project for someone out there!  But, seriously the message is not lost on me.  If we can instill the love for school and the respect for education into our children now and forever, they will be that much better off in the long run.  I firmly believe that 100%!  And that love and respect for school and learning doesn't just happen at home -- it happens at school, too.  I hope that each and every day I leave my students with the feeling that I love being here for them and that school excites me.  It's the truth!! 

So how did your children do on the first day?  They were awesome!  It was a long morning of listening and sitting and they pulled it off like pros!  Please remember to pack HEALTHY snacks -- we actually had a Twinkie make it past my classroom door today. I showed it the door again....  :)  If snacks are forgotten, I do have some pretzels and things in my closet that I happily share. 

Also, if your child has any ALLERGY, now would be a great time to let me know.  Especially food allergies! 

Thank you for having your child to school today!  I am looking forward to many more good days to come!

Friday, August 31, 2012

It's Gonna Be a HOOT!

I've been busy getting the finishing touches done in our classroom and I'm happy to report that it's juuuuust about there!   I'm always doing something -- rearranging this, tweaking that!  I'm pretty sure most teachers have about five Plan B's. 

Just a reminder that our first day of school is September 4.  Our bell rings at 7:50 a.m. and students should be in the classroom ready to go!  There will not be any breakfast or lunch served on day one, so be sure to grab some grub on your way out the door!  Remember to bring a good, healthy snack!  We will dismiss from the gymnasium and as part of our school policy, parents need to stay up by the office until children are released.  It's all about safety and organization!  If your child has any special needs or concerns, please let me know ahead of time what they are -- it's never a good thing to learn about an allergy after the fact. 

Our first couple weeks of first grade are dedicated to learning the ropes and adjusting to being in a new classroom with a new teacher and new rules and expectations.  It is a time to be very patient and to ask a lot of questions!  :)  I'm always available....and I'm even more available to chat if you bring coffee and/or chocolate.  Good luck first grade parents!  It's going to be a HOOT of a good year!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Welcome Aboard!

Just got back from a fabulous Open House.  It was great to see so many families come in -- kids were running in and out of my room, I could hear lockers opening and closing and students shouting "Here's mine!  Look at it!"  I even had students from last year come into my room and tell me that they wish they were coming back!  So sweet!  (They followed that promptly with, "Can I have a piece of candy?")  Overall, it was a successful night and got me even more excited for our first day of school on September 4!  Welcome Aboard First Graders!  We are going to have an excellent year!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Open Doors....Open House!

Tomorrow morning I have to set my alarm.  I will press snooze several times before actually opening my eyes and realizing that gone.  (Moment of silence.)  It's time to get back to work!  I have a full classroom of first graders coming soon -- hopefully I will see most of them and their parents at tomorrow's OPEN HOUSE from 5:30-7:30.  There will be an elementary orientation at 5:30 in the gymnasium. Bring a pen, because we'll have all the fun paperwork you'll need to fill out for the year.  This year there are 26 students in first grade and I am ready to welcome you all to our classroom!  Hope to see you there! 

Reminder:  If you're a parent please choose to follow this blog -- I will always be updating and adding information you'll want to know!  Updates will be sent to your email automatically!  :)  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I love the smell of crayons in the morning!

The class lists are out and school supply aisles are buzzing with parents grasping hold of supply lists, anxiously searching for the best deals on crayons and markers and hand sanitizer!  I think my school supply list for first grade is pretty easy to navigate, but if you have any questions at all let me know!  I am always here to help.  I must say favorite aisle in Walmart last week was the crayon aisle.  Boxes and boxes of freshly packed crayons -- just one smell and I automatically rush back in time to my first grade classroom with Miss Olsen, coloring in the pictures that had the beginning sound of /a/!  I love the sweet smell of crayons!  Is there anything more awesome that a new pack at the start of a school year?  I don't think so! 

So, be off, parents!  Get yourself to the stores and buy up those crayons (only 50 cents a pack at Walmart!)!  Don't fret if you don't get everything on the list and remember to keep that smile on your face!  The countdown is on!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Whoo-whooo-whoooooo will be in First Grade??

If you follow me at all on facebook, you'll know by now that I'm a fan of owls.  Just something about that bird!  So, it won't be a big surprise that my classroom this year will have lots and lots of owls in it!  I've rearranged the room and I'm happily working on cleaning out the old to make ready for the new.  This is the fun part...the "work" part comes when I start looking at curriculum and planning.  Fun, yes....difficult...also yes.  :) 

I've had several people ask me about WHOOOOO will be in my classroom and when supply lists will be delivered.  I know that you will be notified soon, but I don't have those answers for you.  Sorry!  I leave all that official business up to those in charge.  :) 

What I can tell you is this:  If I have the pleasure of teaching your child this year, you will need a healthy snack EVERY day!  We do not do shared snacks in first grade -- each child brings his/her own.  However, we like to emphasize HEALTHY snacks.  Chips, chocolate, cupcakes, etc are not healthy and will not help your child make it through the long morning of work and learning.  That leap from Kindergarten to First Grade is a big one -- and one of the biggest changes is that your child will be expected to work for longer periods of time.  In order to make this happen, your child will need FUEL -- products full of sugar will not provide the fuel and will only work against your child's success.  Please help me to help your child learn:  provide healthy snacks daily!  Examples of healthy snacks?  Fruits! Cheese/Crackers!  Yogurt!    Be sure to check the labels -- if the sugar content is high, it doesn't matter if the box says "whole grains."  Lots of boxed foods say that now -- they don't all equal healthy alternatives. 

See you real soon!  Enjoy your last few weeks of summer!  Don't forget our Open House on August 28!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Back to School....Back to Reality...

I went into my classroom yesterday for the first time since I locked the door behind me and said hello to summer.  My desk has exactly the same junk on it as when I left!  So, tomorrow I am back to school to get ready for the upcoming year. It's time to clear out the old junk and get ready for a new bunch of students!  I'm eager to get started, and yet I'm bummed that summer seems to go by so fast.  My daughter turned one this summer and we have been having so much fun -- it will be tough to not see her all day, every day!  She is getting pretty funny -- pointing and laughing at just about everything.  Everything she sees is a "dog."  Although, yesterday we are certain she said "bird" and sounded like an old Russian man.  "Brr-D."  We were pretty excited to hear her say it, but soon after everything turned into "dog" again.  Even us.  :) 

Anyway, I want to introduce you to this blog and explain its use.  This blog will be a place where you can see what happens in our classroom every week.  I will do my best to post weekly -- sometimes even daily.  I hope to capture the fun moments, the teachable moments and everything in between.  It will be a place for parents to get information and keep up-to-date on all that is happening in Room 5.  It will also be a place where I'll share teaching ideas, art projects, frustrations, and celebrations! 

So, I hope you'll be a member of the First Grade Fan Club!  Everybody's doing it.