Saturday, August 17, 2013

Our Schedule

Here is our (tentative) schedule for first grade.  Please note that this schedule will run more smoothly once the kids have more stamina later in the year.

8:05-835 Workshop Way/ tasks/ reading lists
8:40-9:00 Phonograms and new phonics rule
9:00-9:30 Writer's Workshop
9:30-10:00 Daily 5 round 1
10:00-10:10 Bathroom breaks
10:10-11:05 Whole group reading instruction (Journeys)
11:05-11:15 Recess
11:15-11:35 Lunch
11:35-11:45 Bathroom breaks
11:45-12:00 Read aloud/ calendar
12:00-12:30 Daily 5 round 2
12:30-1:15 Math
1:15-1:30 Spelling
1:30-2:00 Daily 5 round 3
2:00-2:15 6 Traits Writing review
2:15-2:25 Snack
2:30-3:00 Arts block
3:00-3:30 Arts block
3:30-3:45 Pack up/ jobs
3:50 Dismissal

Yep, that is a LONG DAY.  But we don't have school on Fridays, so I guess it's okay :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Little desks

A few days ago, I bought dark wood colored contact paper, although I didn't know why. Meanwhile, my friend and coworker, Lori picked up these half boxes thinking I could somehow use them in my classroom. 

Lori has the best ideas, I swear! She says, why not make little desks out of these! They are perfect for first graders sitting on the floor with their legs stretched out in front of them! And with the wood contact paper (Dollar Tree) they look like real little desks! 

Here I am awkwardly smiling as I am putting the contact paper on one! Haha!

And here I am taping the edges so the contact paper won't come off.

They turned out so nice! I think the kids will really like them and they were really easy to make! We spent 10 minutes (and one dollar) to make each one! Very worth it!

If you are wondering about the box, I took a picture of the side of it side so you could see what it was (we didn't cut the box, it came like that).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

New place, new pup!

We moved last weekend!  Just across town, but still.  Now I am a little closer to work, and it's about $100 cheaper than our last apartment.  Our new apartment has less living room and bed room space, but WAY more bathroom/ kitchen/ storage space.  We can now hide our stuff to make it look like we are really neat and tidy!!  We went to Ikea to get some new stuff to make our apartment more homey.  

A couple hours and a few hundred dollars later, we had our new living room.  I love it.  Yes, it is brown and ORANGE.  The pillows and candles really bring out the orange in the rope bridge (in the large wall canvas).  I think it looks awesome!  Now all we need are some curtains.

We will do our bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen sometime later...

Some other very exciting news is that WE GOT A PUPPY!  Well, not a puppy puppy... We rescued this beautiful pup from the Scottsdale Pet Hotel.  She is two years old, and we think that she is a Basenji mix.
This was the pic that we saw online for her.  We fell in love.
 They found her in Yuma (of all places..) roaming the desert in May.

Here she is barreling towards us, the first time we met her.  We named her Rue.

Rue is getting along at our apartment just fine!  Her only flaw is that she will lick you to death.  She has a few toys, although she prefers to play with us more than her toys.  She is potty trained, and has had no accidents *so far*.  She doesn't seem to be interested in any of our stuff, and is not destructive at all, although we have not left her alone yet.  We do have a crate for her when we leave, but she slept on our floor last night.  She wants to climb up on our bed to sleep with us SO bad, but she settled for the floor after a few minutes of failed attempts.  When we woke up she was lying on her back with her paws up on the wall.  Haha!  She is adorable!

Anyway, I am meeting the new first grade teacher tomorrow!  I am beyond excited about that!  We are just meeting to chat about school, but we are meeting at the school on Thursday.  More things to come!

Leave a comment if you have a clue about what Rue might be mixed with!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Last Year

 I guess I went MIA last year for... the whole year, but I took pictures of my classroom, and I would like to share them now.

Here was my room at the VERY beginning of the year.  You can't really tell from this picture, but most of those desks are the double wides.  Then some of them are normal (on the left side).  I didn't even have enough desks for  the amount of kids that I would be having.  I had 29 desks, but was getting 32 kids.  Notice the small table up there?  That was my solution.

Here is my reading rug area (although I didn't have a rug over there until a few weeks into school year.)  From here you can see my easel, my stuffed monkey, Markle Sparkle, my library, my calendar, all about me board, white boards, erasers, phonics phones, Journeys instructional cards and a weird hundreds chart (I won't be using that again).  

My library and my Workshop Way philosophy signs (see my Workshop Way post).

Another look at my reading rug area.  Notice the large black couch cushion... great for this year's alternative seating!
Here's my word wall... I got the cute zoo themed alphabet sign from Teachers Notebook.

My 'days of school place value board'.  Got the little holders from the Dollar Tree and just stapled them into the wall!

My wonderful library!  (They don't all have labels yet)

I love this!  I took all of my teaching resource books and put them in a bunch of magazine holders from Ikea.  Then made little labels and put a strip of contact paper across the whole thing.  Only... now as I have had to move rooms this year, the thing does not move well as one giant piece.  I wish I would have just wrapped them individually with contact paper.  Oh well, live and let learn.

Workshop Way puzzles and Thinkers, as well as a puzzle and Thinker lost and found and a book hospital!

This thing is nifty for centers or little activities.  The red cup on top holds like 25 sticks for the "What to do when you are done" problem.  I tell them to "pick a stick" and each stick coincides with a bin.  They take it back to their seats and  complete the activity quietly.  The blue mailbox on top holds Risk Sheets, 5 Across pages, and other Workshop Way tasks.

I set this up later in the year for supplies.  On top you will see The Prince (our pencil sharpener under the blue bucket... it says "Shh!  The Prince is sleeping!) and little containers for spelling words and word wall words.

Finally, I got rid of all the double wide desks and got normal ones!  Not to mention the fact that I lost a lot of kids and ended up with 24!  I put them into groups of four and put the supplies in the middle.  The teams got to pick out the animal team name, and each team was awarded points for appropriate behavior.  Each week the winning team got a trophy to sit at their desks for a whole day and they got to do "window paints" on one of my giant windows.  Quite the crowd pleaser.

Anyway, that was my room last year.  This year it will be very different because there will be NO DESKS!!  I will be doing alternative seating!  Check out my other posts to see how things are progressing!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Things to buy

Here is a list of things I'll be needing in order to get my room ready for alternative seating (if it's crossed off that means I recently got it)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Recent Purchases

I have been thinking (obsessively) about how to set up my room next year.  Since I have been working full time at a daycare that is an HOUR away from my school, I can't exactly get there to move things around, but I have been sorting things out in my head.

I made a few shopping trips this past week and I am excited to share the things that I have gathered.

Treasures For Teachers-  This store is AMAZING.  Their mission statement it "to provide free and low cost supplies to teachers from community reusable resources".  You pay $35 a year for membership, but it is well worth the price.  Last time I was there, they gave me a huge FREE box of bubble wrap!  I have literally filled my car up of stuff from there and have spent less than $20.

Here is there $5 'Fill A Bag' section.
Here is there laminating and di-cut station.
Here is there FREE section.

Anyway, from Treasures for Teachers I got my big box of bubble wrap (I will be stuffing my DIY bean bag chairs with it... lice will not live in it!), rolls of accounting tape for my writing center, a writing center organizer, a no heat laminating machine, mailboxes, a big couch cushion pillow, and some big books.  All in all I spent just under $30. Here are some pictures of my purchases.

The big couch cushiony pillow, stuffed with bubble wrap of course.
I'd like to either buy a pillowcase for it or make one of my
own using  some fabric that matches my bean bag.
I'm putting this on my writing table.  I can put markers, pencils,
paper, envelopes, accounting tape, etc in it!  Only $2!
The awesome no heat laminator!  $5!  And I checked online,
and the laminate for this machine is only $15!

Ikea- I don't need to tell any of you how amazing Ikea is.  I lived in Michigan up until a few years ago, and had never been to one until I moved out here.  Walking in the store was one of the single greatest things I had ever witnessed.  They have EVERYTHING.  For cheap!  For those of you who don't have one around you, I am truly sorry, and I feel your pain.  You should think about moving.  :)

Anyway, from Ikea, I got some rugs, a trash can (although I'm using it as a place to store my rolled up rugs), a picture frame, an awesome lamp (and light bulbs), and also a couple things for my home.  I spent about $40 at Ikea.  Here are some pictures.

I bought 4 little ruggies at $1.99 each.  Only big enough for one kid to sit or lie on it.

Here's how I'll store the rugs.  The trash can was $3.99.

My amazing new lamp and bulbs.
It will look like one of these when it's not so... in a box.

Anyway, I still need to make a trip to Jo Ann Fabric store.  I need to pick out some fabric to use for the bucket cushions and for the bean bag chair.  I'm thinking green and yellow, but we will see.

That's all for now!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Daily 5 Anchor Charts

I was going through my little workbook on Daily 5 that I got from the Conference that I went to a month ago.  I wanted to make a list of all the anchor charts that I would need to make in order to successfully launch Daily 5.  Obviously, I won't fill in the I charts until the students make the suggestions, but some of them I can make ahead of time.  Also I was thinking, that I can make the headings on the big paper pad in the order of which I will introduce the anchor chart.  I just don't like feeling scrambled to write something while I have kids watching me.  I always feel so rushed.

Anyways, here is the order of my anchor charts:

  1. 3 ways to read a book
  2. Read to self I chart
  3. Where to sit (or how to find a spot to sit)
  4. Good fit books
  5. Work on writing I chart
  6. What to write about (or how to choose a topic)
  7. List of writing genres (or forms of writing)
  8. List of word work materials
  9. How to set up materials
  10. How to use materials
  11. How to clean up materials
  12. Acceptable behaviors for listen to reading
  13. How to use listening station materials
  14. Read to someone I chart
  15. EEKK (Elbow elbow knee knee)
  16. How to choose a partner
  17. Coaching strategies (how to coach your partner if they don't know a word)
** Read to self, work on writing, word work, listen to reading, read to someone**

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why make the switch to alternative seating?

Desks and chairs were the bane of my existence last year.  All year long kids were tipping, wiggling, falling out of- come on, you know- their chairs.  On top of it, since I teach first grade it was the first time they had a desk... so they were secretly cutting, gluing, playing with toys, anything but paying attention- in the secrecy of their own desk.  Teaching kindergarten last year, it was my first time with desks as well, and let me tell you, I was wondering what all the hype was about.  Thats why when I got moved into my new itty bitty room I said "There's  no way I'm putting 20 desks in here!"  Seriously.  That would be my whole room!  And you could only tetris them  in one specific way to make them all fit!  No thank you!  I went with tables.

Not only that, I went with two tables.  Like- as in, seating for 8.  Now add my horseshoe table for small groups and you have seating for 13.  I'll have 20 kids.  But it's okay because I'll be doing alternative seating.  When I went to the Daily 5 conference last month and one of the sisters, Joan, said that she only had seating for half of her students.  She uses alternative seating... in fact, she said that all of the classrooms in her school use alternative seating.  If it works for them, it will surely work for me.

Think about it.   If someone told you that you have to exhaust your stamina reading books and practicing writing, where would you choose to tackle this task?  I would choose my bed.  Seriously. I love reading or writing while propped up in my cozy bed... I'm there right now!  I'm guessing not that many people chose to work in rigid plastic chairs at a table or desk, right next to others who were more than likely audibly mouthing their own stories to themselves.  Why should we expect kids to do it??

By letting a child sit/stand/crouch in a spot that is best for him, it will completely change his ability to work independently in reading and writing.  Meaning, it will make him a better reader and writer!  Who doesn't want that!!

A Pediatric Physical Therapy study conducted in 2006 indicated that when a group of children diagnosed with ADHD were given alternative seating instead of school chairs they paid better attention and scored higher on standardized tests.  When kids with an extra amount of energy are given the freedom to sit the way they choose, and switch positions freely, they are more likely to be engaged than if they were forced to sit a certain way for a long period of time.  Take it from me, a person who has struggled with ADD since grade school myself, this is HUGE.

Apart from the academic benefits, there are also behavior benefits.  Children that are constantly out of their seat can feel at ease in their new comfy spot, and will more likely remain there for longer.  Kids that prove to always be a distraction will be more engaged, so they won't take learning away from others.  Kids that get tired and ornery half way through the day are more likely to stay alert.

Other benefits include:

x      It creates a community in the classroom.

x      It forces kids to be more organized.

x      It fosters independence.

x      It helps develop metacognitive skills.

x      It's so stinkin' fun!

Stop by later, and I'll show you some pictures of what I'll be using for my alternative seating!

Here is a few articles on the benefits of alternative seating:

What? Not every student has a Desk? --The Sisters talk about their own experience with alternative seating.

Students stand, balance and bounce to learn -- An news report about alternative seating in the classroom.  A lot about standing at tables.

Standing Room Only in Classroom of the Future -- This study conducted by the Mayo Clinic was set up to study the effects of "no seats" on fighting obesity in a classroom.  Scroll to page 4 for the article.

Teachers, parents favor exercise balls in classrooms (with video) -- A news article that shares the benefits of a "chairless classroom".

Alternative Seating Brain Research -- Benefits of using stability balls instead of chairs.

Health Benefits of Alternative Seating -- Health benefits for adults using alternative seating in the office.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lap Boards

Since I am doing alternative seating this year, I will only have table space for about 12 out of 20 kids.  *GASP!* Where will the other sit to do their work?!  Why the floor of course!

I took it upon myself to take a little trip to Home Depot last week to see what I could find to make my own lap boards (since I will not be buying anything fancy).  I asked an employee where I might find shower board, since I knew that that is what they used to make our white boards at school.

Here it is called "Thrifty White Panel Board.  Thrifty indeed!
I found the stuff, and at $13.65 for a board the size of one of our big white boards at school it was pretty cheap.

I explained to the employee that I needed these to make lap boards for school because I am a teacher (magic words, you'll find) and he was more than happy to cut them to whatever size I needed. Happy day!

He cut them 12 x 18 inches.  Even an adult could use these! :)

I got a solid 15 boards that were exactly 12x18, then an extra 5 more that were like a fraction of an inch off, then an extra little guy that I don't know what his dimensions are.  I'll be keeping 8 of them, and giving the rest to another teacher in my school.  Oh, and I'm sure this goes without saying, but they can be used as dry erase boards too.

Another thing worth mentioning...

At the Daily 5 conference that I attended last month, The Sisters said that having kids lie on the floor using a lap board to write works wonders for kids with underdeveloped fine motor skills.  These are typically the kids that have great gross motor skills (typically highly active boys) that try to use the larger arm muscles to make up for their little hand muscles.  The result is very sloppy handwriting and fleeting stamina.  Here is what they said to do:

Have the child use a lap board and lay them on their stomach with their paper and lap board out in front of them.  Have them prop themselves up on their elbows, and let them write like that.  This way, their elbow acts as an anchor, forcing them to rely on the smaller hand muscles that they clearly need to develop.

The sisters say that it may take a week or two, but they will progress so much faster than if they were sitting at a desk doing drill after handwriting drill.  Sounds good to me!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Alternative Seating

So as I mentioned in a previous post, I got the OK from my principal to scrap my desk and chairs and use alternative seating.  I have been exploring the idea of it on the internet, and people are generally saying one of two things.  There is the first group (primarily made up of veteran teachers) that think it is crazy to ditch the desks for this new age practice, and a second group of teachers who have tried it, loved it, and have never even thought about going back to it.  Seriously, I have not even found a person who has tried it and hated it.  Sure, it is going to be hard to have to teach them to be able to do... everything... from literally anywhere in the classroom, and I'm sure that it will take a lot of time to teach the DOs and DON'Ts at the beginning of the year, but I am doing Daily 5!  A part of Daily 5 is teaching them how to be extremely independent and giving them a choice on what to do and where to sit (or lie, or stand, or crouch).

I have been doing a lot of research and I have many things that I want to try next year.  Unfortunately, the classroom that I am moving into is a lot smaller than the one that I am used to.  In fact, it is small by anyone's standards.  I was given the choice, and I actually chose this room though.

The room that I oh-so-professionally hi-lighted in yellow is my new room.  The room above it was my old room.  Needless to say, I am in a closet.  The problem is, is that when my school was being built, they never intended on having more than one teacher per grade level.  Well the numbers were higher than expected last year and they hired a couple of teachers to teach some combo classes.  This year, apparently the numbers have increased again because there will be TWO TEACHERS PER GRADE LEVELS!! I could not be more excited!!  It will be so awesome to bounce ideas off of someone that is teaching the same standards and going through the same grade level behavior drama!  As of now, they have not hired anyone to be my other half... but I did get an email telling me that they have given someone a second interview and they are considering hiring her!  I hope we get along!

Anywho, here is a list of the things that I'll be using as alternative seating:

X      exercise balls

X      couch cushions

X      t-shirt pillows (DIY)

X     bean bag chairs (DIY)

X     bucket seats (DIY)

X      crate seats (DIY)

X     PCV camp chairs (DIY)

X     Rugs, blankets, pillows, the usual...

These links will take you to the Pinterest pins that I got my inspiration from, but I haven't taken my own pics yet.  They will come soon!  Let me know what you think of my ideas!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Daily 5

Alright, so I am ECSTATIC to announce that in the beginning of June I got to attend a Daily 5 conference from The 2 Sisters in Charlotte, NC! 




My principal sent my two favorite teachers and me for two days!  We got to go to Daily 5 AND Cafe!  It was seriously so great!  I learned a TON, and it really reminded me why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place!  The Sisters were so inspiring and down to earth! I could go on and on!  Let's just say that the conference was well worth it!

I went into the conference with very limited knowledge on Daily 5 and Cafe.  I attempted to bust out the first book The Daily 5 on the plane to NC.  I didn't get very far, however, and decided that I would probably learn just as much at the conference as I would have reading the book... And learn much I did.  And we even got two little workbooks during the conference that held all the most recent theories and practices that The Sisters had to offer.

Oh, and did I mention?  They gave out a bunch of freebees too!  My favorite little gift was a set of wind chimes!  I will hang them up from the ceiling and use them to signal when to regroup to discuss and reflect between dailies.  This was the first gift we got, and people went nuts!  I swear, it felt like an episode of Oprah's Favorite Things!

Well I am so inspired by what I learned so I am giddy to get into my new classroom and start setting up.  A lot more to come soon!

Upcoming Daily 5 Conferences

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New developments

My principal just gave me the okay to do alternative seating in my classroom!  Meaning balance balls, papasan chairs, bean bags, and cushions galore!!! No pics yet, but they will be coming shortly!

(Sorry I haven't been the avid blogger that I set out to be!!)