Sunday, March 23, 2014

Graphs and Tallies and Bears...OH MY!

It's been awhile since I've been on here...I don't even have a good excuse.  I wish I could say it's because I've been out enjoying the start of spring - but that's not the case. The weather was nice for about a day, now it's back to same ol' cold...brr. So, to apologize for my absence, I've spruced up some things that I've used in my classroom this past week to share with ya'll.  My student teacher {who is won-der-ful} had been teaching graphing and data collection in math groups.  Independent seatwork, then, also focused on this skill.  We broke out the counting bear manipulatives for these activities (well, we've only done one so far...but will continue next week). Baskets of bears were available for children to complete the tasks.  "What if I don't have bears?" you worries.  I included some cards in the set for students to use in place of the plastic counting bears. :)  I got ya covered!

Click on the activity below for a FREEBIE!
To see the entire pack in my TPT store, click on the image below.  ENJOY!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Liebster Blog Award

They like me...they really, really like me!  I was super excited when I saw an email this evening letting me know that Kristin at Readbox nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award.  I wasn't even sure if people read my blog - let alone LIKED it.  Whoa!!  I've seen the blog award on others' blogs, and am honored that I was nominated!  Thanks, Kristin!

The Liebster Award is presented to upcoming blog authors with less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, welcoming, valued, cute, and beloved! Who wouldn't want to be named any/all of those things!?

Questions from Kristin at The Readbox

1. What TPT item are you most proud of?  I am most proud of my "It's About Time" TPT item. Telling time is something that was challenging for some of my kiddos, so I was excited to create something fun for them. The "ladies first" concept made such a difference with my students' understanding of telling time!
2. If you were a character from a TV show, who would you be and why? This is a hard one…especially because the majority of what I watch is on Bravo and I would never want to be any of those TV personalities!  I think I would want to be Carrie Bradshaw from SATC.  I could easily pass on the man-drama in her life, but would gladly accept her wardrobe! :) 
3. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?  I am having an internal quarrel with myself about whether I should go healthy or honest with this one.  I'm going for it...honesty is the best policy!  I love myself some chicken nuggets (and French fries).  I know they are super unhealthy…but oh, so good! 
4. If you were stranded on an island, who would you need there with you?  My husband (and I'm not just saying that because he's sitting beside me).  He makes me laugh, keeps me grounded, and loves me unconditionally - which is a good thing, because I'd probably be looking like a hot mess on a stranded island! All jokes aside, the hubs would be my go-to person. (and I'd make sure that my puggle  Bella, would be in his suitcase!).  With all of that said, my mom came in a close 2nd place on this one!
5. What was your biggest mistake/regret in teaching?  Although I have LOVED working at every school I have taught in thus far, I regret not getting to see my first graders continue their elementary journeys through the fifth grade. The longest that I have been in a building is/was 4 years. I hope, as we all do, that I was able to make an impact on their lives during my time with them. One thing that I love about my job is the connection that I am able to make with students. Luckily, though FB, I am able to keep up with many families from years ago.
6. What made you decide to enter blog world? I love reading other teacher's blogs for ideas and inspiration. My journey first began on TPT and I wanted to branch out some more. Not only did I want to show my products "in action", but also just share the ins and outs of my days in first grade. I was very naive when I took the blogging plunge and new NOTHING about blogs. I taught myself how to set up my page - that was the first hurdle.  Then, I was terribly inconsistent about posting at first (for a long time), but now take pride in my blog and enjoy sharing myself with the rest of the blogging world.
7. What is your favorite childhood memories? I have so many! Any memories that involve my brothers.  Although, if you were to ask my 10 year old self this question, that would not be the answer.  When I think about my childhood with two older brothers, I realize now how lucky I am to have had them looking out for me.  Plus, when we are all together now as adults and reminisce about our childhood memories, we can't help but laugh at our ridiculousness *not mine, of course*.
8. Who is your hero?  My grandma is my hero, for sure. She was so kind, giving, and selfless. I may have been too young to realize it when she was still alive, but she was truly amazing. Every Sunday we would go to her house after church for a HUGE family lunch. It's what I looked forward to every weekend.  This was another childhood memory that could have easily been my response for #7.
9. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you pick? Italy. I'd love to go walk the streets of where my ancestors are from, as well as look up relatives that I still have there.
10. You're a superhero! What super power do you think you would be given? I would be given the power to fly. Maybe it's the influence of my cheerleader/gymnast  days, but I would want that power just for the pure fun and enjoyment of it!  Plus, if I wanted to go anywhere (like Italy), I could just fly myself there and bypass all of the frustrations of an airport!
11. If you could change one thing about the world...what would it be?  Oh my goodness, where do I begin?!  A girlfriend of mine and I always joke during our runs that we are able to solve the world's problems in that time - because we talk about anything and everything to help pass the time while running.  Seriously, though, I would like to see less cruelty in the world.  Being a teacher, I see that this can begin in the schools.  I know that I, as a child, was not always the most openminded or kind to my peers and so I see it as one of my many duties to my students to teach compassion, kindness, and empathy towards others.

11 Facts About Me
1.  I have a love/hate dislike relationship with running. I hate it while I am doing it (most of the time), but love how I feel when I'm done! It's funny, though, that I hate running less than 4 miles...they are torturous for me. It takes about 4 miles for me to get in a groove, then I'm good to go!
2.  I LOVE my puggle, Bella. (Yes, that's a dog.) Pug + Beagle = Puggle
3.  I am a HUGE Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
4.  I'd like to write a children's book someday.
5.  I would love to attend a TPT conference to meet some of the amazingly talented teachers that I follow and admire.
6.  My husband constantly yells at me to get my fingers out of my mouth. Gross, I know, but I've always had a bad habit of biting my nails/cuticles.
7.  I ran my first marathon last Disney!
8.  I can be shy.
9.  I have my closet organized by clothing type and then by color.  Let's just say it's a good thing I don't live right around the corner from a J.Crew Factory store anymore...
10.  I "try" to get things done right away. If it can be done in less than a minute (or 5, let's be real), I do it now rather then put it off till later. 
11.  I fear failure. I think that's why I still get nervous about being a blogger and TPT store owner. I am a perfectionist and I have a hard time allowing things that I put my name on to be just mediocre.  I don't expect myself, my blog, or my store to be THE best…I just want it to be MY best.

And the nominees are...
Questions for my Nominees:

1. Who is your hero?
2. You are a zoo animal.  What are you?
3. Who is your favorite children's book author?
4. When did you realize you wanted to be a teacher?
5. Fast forward ten years. You run into a former student. What do you hope he/she remembers about you?
6. The afternoon bell has rung. What do you most look forward to doing after a long day at work?
7. What is the next goal you have set for yourself? (Personal or professional)
8. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you in your classroom?
9. What is your guilty pleasure? Don't think too long on this one! First thing that comes to mind...go!
10. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
11. Who is your celebrity crush? (Totally went "high school style" with this one!)

To My Nominees: You are amazing! I hav eloped discovering your blogs and excited to see what you do in the future. Please let me know if you accept, so I can come read all of your posts/questions. If you accept this nomination, put the Liebster award on your site, nominate 5-12 others, answer my questions to you, list 11 facts about yourself, and create new questions for your nominees! Congrats

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Smiles All Around for Writer's Notebooks

Several weeks ago, my young authors received a wonderful surprise...Writers' Notebooks!  Up until now, they have been writing stories in stapled, folded, storybook (lined) paper.  My first graders truly see themselves as authors when they are writing stories in those"real" books.  For the past few years, though, I have chosen to make a switch in our writing format for the 2nd semester of school. Students are introduced to Writer's Notebooks.  My kids are used to seeing ME write in MY notebook, as well as occasionally sharing my writing with them. So, they see this is a big deal!
All morning, I had this big box sitting by my chair and easel. As soon as the children walked into the classroom that day, there was a buzz about what might be inside. Predictions included books, iPads, stuffed animals, a class pet, and notebooks {yes, on of my little eager writers was already hoping that some sort of notebook would be inside}. FINALLY, they were able to tear into it and find out what was inside that box!  The reactions were priceless!! The way they screamed with excitement and hugged each other, you would have thought they won a million bucks!!

During writer's workshop, I "ooohed" and "aahhhed"about how much they have grown as writers in first grade. I told them that they have graduated from our previous writing routine and are ready to expand and grow their skills with notebooks. We spent the next week or so learning about "What is a Writer's Notebook?" in class.  I even read a few snippets from Ralph Fletcher's A Writer's Notebook. (They ate that up and felt very important to be learning about a notebook from an expert.) At home, students were busy personalizing their notebooks with pictures.
After having the notebooks at home for about a week and a half, they were returned and adorned with creative collages! Of course, the kids couldn't wait to see the other notebooks, so we did a gallery walk around the classroom to view everyone's fabulous covers. Then, we began to set up our notebooks. Several pages were set aside at the front of the notebook for "seed ideas." Several pages were reserved in the back of the notebook, then, for a "word collector" section to capture interesting words that they might want to include in their own writing. Our first genre exploration in our notebooks will be small moment/personal narrative stories.

My kids are so excited about their notebooks that they are taking them everywhere...cafeteria, playground, home, even to bed!  One parent told me that their son now sleeps with a composition book under his pillow just in case he gets a writing idea in the middle of the night.  Ahhhhh, mission accomplished!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Addition and Subtraction Anchor Charts ~ FREEBIE

I made these posters awhile back for my firsties (towards the beginning of the school year). They hang on the wall where I do my guided math groups and are a constant reference - which is what an anchor chart should be!  I originally saw an "Andy Addition" anchor chart by Amy on The Kindergarten Center via Pinterest and my wheels began turning. I immediately whipped up this digital version, along with his buddy Susie Subtraction. 
Click on the either one of the images to download your FREEBIE!