Friday, December 30, 2011


I am thankful for my new friends! Even those "closet" friends!  :)

Since there are only 4 people that posted- I was able to use THE HAT program.  :)

Here are the results:

Congratulations Jennifer!  :) 
I will be sending you my 3 files!

I also will be sending my other 3 new friends my newest file too.  :)

Hopefully I can find your email addresses so I can email you this within the next 30 minutes because I am leaving for Canada! If not, just email me at and I will send you your "prize!"  :)

Have a great new years eve blogging world!  ;) 


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Liebster Award! :)

:-p  I am so excited to be awarded the Liebster Award from Claire over at

Thank you Claire for nominating me for this award of up and coming blogs.  You sure can make a gal feel honored!!  I was so excited that I called my hubby and said, "Guess WHAT?!?!?!?"  I think I am far more excited that he was!  :)

This award brings recognition to blogs with under 200 followers. It is a way to support and encourage new bloggers. Once received it needs to be passed on to five up-and-coming blogs.

I am now awarding to:  (I am giving 6 awards because I'm sure at least one of them probably already was awarded.  :))
I LOVE her postings.  I found her while reading on a blog where she is a guest poster.  CHECK her out!  ;)
I found this one when it was on a Wandering Wednesday post at the First Grade Parade.  Check it out if you haven't already!  ;)
I found this little blog TODAY!  It is definitely on my to read list.  She has loads of creative projects!  I can't wait to dive into it more!
This blog belongs to one of my newest followers!  She is very generous with sharing ideas and is super sweet!  (Obviously if she reads my little blog!)  ;)  Please stop by and say, "Hi!"
This blog was a part of First Grade Parade's Wandering Wednesday as well.  There are a lot of terrific ideas- go check it out!  ;)
I also discovered this keeper on First Grade Parade's Wandering Wednesday.  I LOVE this blog full of VERY creative ideas.  Go check it out!  ;)

Thanks again Claire!  ;)


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Writing Workshop


I had a few emails asking about my writing workshop time.  The beginning of the year looks different than right now because I am training the students with writing stamina and teaching them how to use all of the extra writing choice forms.  (These will be discussed below.)

I start with a read aloud on Monday.  I always start with a book that I chose that highlights a specific teaching point.  I inform the students before I start reading to pay attention to ___________ while I read.  This way they can still listen to the entire story without interruption.  After the story is finished we discuss and go back through the book pointing out the specific items.  The mentor texts stay on my brown book shelf all year because we will refer back to them often as needed.

Here is an example of a list of mentor texts:

I purchased a few however I had so many books that I just went through all of my picture books during one summer and determined which books were good for teaching different concepts.  This way I didn't have to spend a lot of money!  Someday I will type up my list.  Right now they have a post-it-note on the book stating what skill I will teach as I use it.  The books with similar skills are stored in the 2 gallon Ziplock bags together. 

I tell my students the genre that I want them to write.  Right now they have to write an entertaining story but they can choose if it is a real, realistic fiction or fantasy story.  They also have the choice if it will be sad, funny or scary.

This is the writing template that I use:

You can get yours here.

On the first 3 Mondays of the month they discuss with partners what story they want to write for the week.  After a few minutes, I ask for students to tell me their topic.  As they tell me their topic I hand the new writing packet to them to fill out.  Students that remain on the carpet- I help them think of a topic before they go back.

I usually NEVER sit down during writing workshop. (Well, unless I am in my wheelie chair sliding from desk to desk!)  On Mondays I typically have my low students dictate their stories.  (Some students need me to write the entire thing- and others just need my support.) I have them first finish pre-writing but when they are ready for drafting- I write their words for them.  This sets them up for success for the remainder of the week and allows me to help the remainder of the class.  if I do not take the time on Monday to assist my needy students- then I will have behavior problems during the rest of the week.

I also allow students to use, "Try it sheets"  This is a strategy that I learned from my amazing cooperating teacher during student teaching.  If a student does not know how to spell a word- they can grab a scrap of paper and try to spell the word on the scrap.  I have stand up question marks that students will sit on their desk when they have a try it sheet or need me for some other reason.  Once I am free- I will work my way through the students with question marks and write how to actually spell the word that they were trying.  I always point out the good sounds that they used.  They write the correct spelling in their dictionary.

At certain points in the year I expect my students to finish parts of the writing process on their own.  At this point in the year my students are expected to complete pre-writing, drafting, editing and with an attempt at revising.

You can check out our Spider Legs revising technique song here.  :)

Once they finish their story for the week they are allowed to choose writing choices.

Here is an AMAZING FREE website full of writing templates such as newspapers, menu writing, wanted posters, recipes etc.

I use sticker stories that I purchased and cannot find where I got them!!!

I allow comic templates:

The last week of each month- the students get out their finished stories and choose their best story.  I collect the others and grade them only on effort and send them home. 

Their best story is published.  I grade this with a rubric.

We have 2 authors a day share their published stories.  Once they read it to the class- I finally send it home.

I use these for our publishing books:

They come with a title page and an about the author page.  I have my students add a copyright and dedication to the back of the cover page.  We also add a cardstock cover.  My students are really proud of their publishing books.

  Someone asked what I do for teaching editing.  Well, I try to use their own writing as much as possible but I also downloaded this amazing item at TPT.  I use it for morning work Tuesday- Friday each week.

If you have any more questions please let me know! :)

Remember that I have a competition going on until DECEMBER 30TH! Right now you have a pretty good chance of winning!!!!  :) 

Please follow me and leave a comment about your favorite holiday tradition on my competition post!!!  ;)


Monday, December 26, 2011

Common Core Base Ten Newsletters

I FINALLY finished these!  I have been enjoying friends and family so much that I am behind on my Christmas break to do list.  :)  I am JUST FINE with being behind schedule too.  ;)

Here is a sneak peak:

I now have 3 of the 4 math newsletters, exit slips, skill cars and class progress monitoring charts completed! 

As a Christmas gift, I will give the 3 sets that I have completed away!

This is all that you have to do:
1.  Become a follower (I have started being ridiculed by my hubby for only having 10 "friends".  :)  One of which is my wonderful mother-in-law!  :))
2.  Leave a comment and tell me your favorite holiday tradition!  (I LOVE reading about these!)

I will download one of my favorite tools, "The Hat" and generate a winner on December 30th!

You can check out the Common Core items here, here and the newest one here!

You can download The Hat program here for FREE!  ;)  I use this for determining random partners in my class or random orders of students.  This was recommended to be a few years ago and I now use it at least once a week in my classroom.

Happy holidays and safe travels!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Reward Incentive Chart

This is a chart that was recommended by a wonderful first grade teacher.  :)

I just tried this out last week and it seemed to work.  I think that I will pull this out at high stressful times!  I put items dealing with our Polar Express day on the boards. 

This is just another strategy to keep around to use when needed!  ;)  If you would like a copy- just email me!  ( :)

Behavior Incentive Chart
This was introduced to me from a friend.  She attended a behavior conference and this was a strategy that was used. 
The student and teacher fill in the chart together.  They fill in rewards that the child would like to earn.  You work from top left to lower right.  You will write rewards in each of the boxes starting with the least of the desired rewards.  The reward that the student wants to earn the most- will be written in the last box. 
Make a new chart each week.  When a child makes a mistake the first box will be crossed off.  This means that they will NOT receive the reward.  Whatever rewards are not crossed off by the end of the week- the child will receive. 
Reward ideas include:
*Using the teacher chair, extra computer time, being the line leader, blowing the recess whistle, picking their buddy first, being paper passer, being the first to choose recess toys, going to a different class for recess, allowed to visit principal, move desk to sit by a buddy etc. 

Changing the Strategy
In my class they can choose one of the following:
·        They don’t have any of the rewards.  Each time that I catch them doing something positive, I make a smiley face on the chart.   This means that they have earned the reward.
o   If they choose this- I often make the chart larger.  I add 2 blank spaces between the reward spaces.  This way I can find as many positives as I need.
·        They have earned all of the rewards but I can take them away.  (This is just like the incentive chart mentioned above.)
Just one more day for us until break!  For those of you already on break- I am SO jealous!  :)


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Time Saving Tidbits!

I had a sweet email from a teacher you shared my same philosophy of "Work smarter not harder!"

I thought it would be nice to share some of the time saving tidbits that you have discovered over the years for school.  (Perhaps we can do a home one for later!) 

1.  I number my students.  That way each year I can just keep the same number on mailboxes, whiteboards, clipboards etc.  I can even buy the cheap folders and spiral notebooks during the summer and number them before I even know who will be in my class.

2.  I don't know about all of you but I HATE grading.  I don't know why but it is my least favorite part of teaching.  I actually do not mind it anymore because I use a system that I discovered (who knows where?) about 3 years ago.
You just need:
File folders labeled with class numbers.  (So you don't have to change them each year!)
A file storage crate.

I teach my students to file their completed work in their file.  I take this home during the week and grade the papers.  This also makes it easy to hand back papers.  :)  I have students turn assessments right into me. 

3.  My students use to just hand me all of their notes and lunch money in the morning.  I have two baskets on my desk labeled, "office notes" and "lunch money".  I have copied lunch count and attendance slips with my name on them and stuck them into the bottom of the basket.  This way my students have to put their belongings into the baskets so that I don't misplace them!

4.  I utilize my parent helpers and send simple things home like my weekly effort sheet.  I have parents label each page with all of the dates that I need for the year.  Then I copy them.  That saves some time.

5.  I created file folders for each week of the year.  (December 1, December 2, December 3 etc.)  I copy things like my behavior chart and stuff them into the correct monthly folders.  I also pre-copy all of my curriculum newsletters so that I have them handy for when they are needed.  I file all of my mystery reader reminders and celebrity of the week reminders and signs all in the appropriate folders as well.  I typically do all of this during the first couple weeks of school.

6.  I created easy to fill in forms for missing school supplies, missing homework etc.  That way I just quickly fill in the blanks and send it home.

7.  DAILY 5!  Need I say more?  ;)

8.  Some of my read aloud books are bagged up by comprehension/ writing strategy.  (Connection bag, inference bag etc.)  This way I can just grab a book when I am teaching a lesson.

What are your time saving tips?????


Monday, December 12, 2011

It is been a while!!!

The hussle and bussle of Christmas is getting to me!  I'd have to say I am loving EVERY minute of it!

I just wanted to share a simple Winter Break homework sheet that I am going to send home.  I haven't uploaded it to TPT- so if you would like a copy- just send me an email and I will attach it.  ;)


Monday, December 5, 2011

math rotations

Due to time constraints and an odd schedule- I have decided to move from 3 math rotations to 2 math rotations.  My lessons won't be as differentiated but it will fit into my day easier.  :)

If you would like a copy- just email me and I'll send you a copy.  :)


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weekend News

One of my co-workers has her kids do weekend news.  I decided to try it out this year.  I just revamped it so that my students will practice some non-fiction components.  They will have to write the headline, draw a picture, write a caption and finally write a short story. 

Click the photo of it below to take you to TPT where you can down it for FREE!  :)

Have a wonderful week!  :)


Saturday, December 3, 2011


This is non teaching related but I'm too excited not to share!

My sister recommended this website to me:

It is free to create a username. Have you ever heard about It seems like a similar concept. I believe all items are on the site for only one-two days. It has home goods, shoes, clothing, assessories etc. As I was shopping it even took items out of my cart because it will only save them for 10 minutes. It was easy to click, "add back to my cart." It is the type of website that once it sells out- it is out!

If and T.J. Maxx were to have a child- ideeli would be it!
For example:

This Paula Dean 4 QT stainless steel pot is on sale for $59.99 at Kohls.

The same pot at Ideeli is $39.99.

This Paula Dean item is on sale for $34.99.

At ideeli it is $14.99.

I just ordered a few things. My sister has already been ordering for a month and she said the quality is amazing.

Just wanted to share such a great website!