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First with Franklin

Thursday, August 30, 2012

BUSY and 2 Tech Tips

I have been BUSY. I'm sure you have been, too. How is it that I always forget how exhausting the first week of school really is? This year, with my split 1st/2nd group, it feels like I'm teaching twice as much with half the time. It's stressful, confusing, tiring.... and actually a lot of fun. I'm really, really enjoying my students this year. I'm teaching some lessons regular, whole group style, but a lot of what I'm teaching is on grade level. That means, I get to teach to a group of 7-8 at a time. I feel like I already know them better than I knew some of my past classes after a couple of months. So, even though at times I think I might cry when trying to figure out schedules and such, I also feel very lucky and blessed.
 Along with my great students, came great parents. I can't say enough great stuff about the group of parents I have this year.  I try my best to let my parents know exactly what is going on in our classroom. A month or so ago on Pinterest I found this cool pin-
Since I teach at a really small school, some of my parents know my personal cell number and I do get texts from them from time to time. However, this is a great way to send mass texts without parents seeing your phone number or the phone numbers of other parents.
I just sent home the note with my kiddos today and I already have 3 parents signed up to receive texts from me.  I love technology!  It's pretty easy to setup and when you register you will get an email with a PDF file to copy and send home to parents.  Of course, I wanted it to be cutesie so I made my own.
Have you ever heard of Remind101?  If not, you should check it out!

I also have a new favorite app.  I downloaded Stick Pick a couple of weeks ago.  Rarely do I pay for apps, especially not $2.99, but I took a chance on this one.  I really like it.  You have the ability to enter multiple classes.  The idea behind this app is really simple, it randomly draws children's sticks out of a can so that you can call on them.  So, what's so great about that?  Well, you can set it up so that is gives you higher level thinking questions when you draw out a name.  You get to pick what level of Bloom's you want for each student.  Cool, huh?  There is also a ESL option for all you that have ESL classrooms or students.  I give it two thumbs up!  Try it out!

How is your year going?  Are you back to school and settled in already?  I can't wait to read about it!  I feel like I've been totally out of the loop this week.  My darling husband works all day Saturday and Sunday which is a total bummer, but I am looking forward to catching up with all my blog friends!  :)

BTW, when I showed the screen shot up I know you were dying to know what the picture was behind my open Safari screen?.
Here it is:
It makes me smile every time I see it.  It's become a joke between the hubs and me.  We like to make short little T-Rex arms and hug... it's fun being dorks!  :)

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Daily 5 is up and running & Pinterest Blog Hop!

Wow!  I can't believe it has been a week since my last post.  It seems like I just posted.  Our first full week FLEW by so fast!  I was so nervous about my first week teaching my combined 1st and 2nd grade class, but it was so, so good!  I am really impressed with my class so far.
We started Daily 5 first the first time ever on Monday.  We started the with first two ways to read a book and 3 minutes of practice time.  We made it about 2 minutes the first time through and I was a little bit worried.  Then, we did our second practice time and almost made it to three minutes.  We only had enough time for two practice sessions a day this week because we had early dismissal all week.  However, yesterday (Friday) we made it to 7 minutes BOTH times!  I am so, so proud of all of my students- they are engaged and super excited about our practice time!
This week, both classes were doing reading review, but next week I'm starting the first story unit with second grade.  I'm way, way nervous about being able to fit everything in.  My first graders will still (thankfully) be reviewing Kindergarten skills, so at least I get to ease into things somewhat.  It is so hard not to spend as much direct instruction time with each group- letting go of control is HARD!!!
I am so thankful for D5, though, because it is teaching me that students don't need me as much as I think they do.  We will thrive this year- I just know it.
I made this cute rock themed Stamina graph for our classroom.  I have added it to my Poster Set for ELA on TpT.
I did add this stamina graph to my D5 dog themed poster set on TpT.  Click here to check it out. 
I included several different goal times as well as one that is blank.  The entire pack is just $2 and includes 5 daily activity posters, check off sheets, 3 ways to read a book poster, and stamina graphs.  

Anyone else out there doing Daily 5?  How is it going so far?  I will be very thankful for no more early out days, so that we have an extra hour of practice time!  
Tonight I have an awards banquet for the Educator of the Year that I'm a finalist in.  I won $1000 from Peabody Energy late last school year and tonight we find out who will be the region's Educator of the Year and win $5,000.  Wish me luck! :)
I'm also participating in the Primary Pinner Blog Hop!  
If you're as obsessed with Pinterest as I am, then you need to link up and then check out all of the awesome primary pinners out there!  Go... now!

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

You Know It's Back to School... and a sweet gift.

I'm linking up with Jeannie from Kindergarten Lifestyle for a fun linky.  You should too, just visit her blog for the details and to link up!

You know it's back to school time when....
This is so, so true for me!  I spent the majority of the summer in shorts, a tank, flip flops, and a ponytail.   It was very comfy and lazy and wonderful.  The only thing that gets me motivated to get up and dressed every morning (besides the cute faces that will be waiting on me) is the fact that I still do a little back to school shopping for myself.  Kids get to, so I should too! :)

Ahhhhh!  I have a bad dream before the first day of school.  Every.  Single.  Year.  I always dream that I have a huge class and I forgot to decorate my room or make plans.... and the kids won't listen to anything that I say.  It's horrible, but expected at this point.  I think maybe it's a good thing, somehow.  Does anyone else have these bad dreams before the first day?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
And would you look at this cute little thing?  

One of my darling students brought it to me on the first day.  I do believe it is the first time I've received a back to school gift, and I loved it soooo much!  Look at all those great little goodies inside.  This mom knows the way to a teacher's heart, I tell ya!  
(The Advil made me giggle a little... some days that is so very needed!)

Pretty cute, huh?  

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Friday, August 17, 2012

We rocked out the first 2 days!

We made it through the first two days of school.  We now know each other and I feel like the kids are starting to understand my style a little better.  On our first day, one of the fun things we did was read "Pete the Cat Rockin' In My School Shoes".  The kids L.O.V.E.D. it!!!  We also listened to the free download from the Harper Collins website.  We had a talk about what they each "rocked" in to school that day.  I wore a silver sequined tank to top and told them about how I felt like a rockstar in it.  (I really wanted to drive home our classroom theme, haha)  Then, they each completed a sentence and illustration about what they were wearing that day that made them feel extra special.  Here is a picture of a few of them.
Aren't they adorable?  I let both of my groups (I teach a 1st/2nd combo class this year) do the same thing, since it was the first day.  They had so much fun sharing their special items and their awesome illustrations with the rest of the class.  I didn't even really know who/what Pete the Cat was until about a week ago... and now I'm obsessed!  I love that little kitty cat!


Here are some pictures of things I've done to get my room ready for my little rockstars.  They all loved it and so do I!  
Here is a picture of our behavior board.  

The punch cards on the bottom are where students can earn punches for good behavior.  They can earn them from me, or any other adults in the building.  If I have one my kiddos that is making a not so great choice, I always try to find someone making a great choice and then ooohhh and ahhhh over their good behavior and give them a punch.  It usually stops the bad choices in record time.  
The necklaces at the top are an extra good behavior incentive.  For each week that they don't lose any PAWS (our school-wide system), they will earn a bead to add to their necklaces.  I plan to let them wear them around school every now and then.  :)

Here are my Daily 5 baskets that I'm using for my students this year.  I got the baskets at Dollar Tree for, you guessed it, a dollar.  I love the way the colors pop against my freshly painted bookcases.  I made the labels and just used silver curly ribbon to attach the tags.  I love how they turned out!

Have you started back yet?  How was your first day?
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Reading Street Review Sheets + Freebies

It's almost that time!!!  My kiddos start back on Thursday.  Our reading series is Reading Street and the first grade curriculum starts with a review unit.  This seems pretty helpful for my firsties, but I do go through it much more quickly than they suggest.  This year, we will be doing the review stuff for the first 2-3 weeks.  Since I'm teaching a combo class this year (1st/2nd) I am planning on also doing a review unit with my second graders.  I'm hoping by easing into things it will give us a chance to learn our Daily 5 schedule and get into a bit of a routine.
I feel like I'm finally starting to be able to wrap my head around how I'm going to teach two grades at the same time.  I actually am getting really excited about it and I think it will be a great experience for my students.  I spent a good amount of time yesterday making some review worksheets that I think my first graders will be able to complete independently while I'm teaching 2nd grade.  I wanted to share them with you (for FREE, of course!).  These do go along with the Kindergarten Reading Street curriculum, but I think it could work for all first graders.  Here is a peak at what is included.

Click here to download them for FREE! Update:  I noticed that I had "circle the letter", when it should have said "circle the word".  I also added the rest of the alphabet letter.  
The downloadable file is corrected.  :)

I also have this powerpoint that I do with the kids during our kindergarten review.  There is a slide for each letter, along with links to websites for extra activities and practice.  I used this with my class last year and my kids loved it!  If you don't have the same fonts on your computer that I used, you might have to adjust things a little.  You should be able to download it here, if you have problems with it, just leave me your email address and I'd be happy to send it you.  

I'm hoping to get a version of this done for second grade, but I'm not sure it will get finished.  The good news is, I have all of my other powerpoint from last year, so I can use those if I have to.  I'm also going to have the kids use our iPad and iPods a lot to review- probably mostly with the SpellingCity app and Teach Me.
Are you ready to go back?  Do you review at the beginning of the year or just dive right in?Pin It

Friday, August 10, 2012

Best Product Ever! & Glitter Makes Everything Better

When my husband brought the mail inside today, he handed me this.  
I was like a kid on Christmas because I knew what was going to be inside.  The awesome people at Classroom Friendly Supplies sent me one of their wonderful pencil sharpeners to test out.  I was excited, but at the same time a little big skeptical.  I mean, they claim it is the quietest and greatest pencil sharpener ever... that's a pretty big claim.  I have always had an electric pencil sharpener in my classroom that does a fairly good job- it was going to be hard to convince me that a manual pencil sharpener is worth the extra effort. 
Then, I tried it.... and oh me, oh my... it really is great!
The first pencil I tried to sharpen was a brand, spankin' new pencil.  Smooth as butter- and the pointiest, point I've ever seen on a pencil.  Really!  

Next, I tried one of the worst kinds of pencils ever.  You know the ones I'm talking about- those cheapo pencils with the plastic outside that gets all kinds of messed up when you sharpen it.  I first sharpened it in my regular, electric sharpener.  Here was the result.  This is actually one of the best jobs my regular sharpener has ever done with this kind of pencil.  Minimal shedding of the icky plastic stuff.  Also notice that the point is not completely pointy.
Then I stuck this pencil into my new sharpener... and Wowie, wow, wow!!! (Junie B. voice, please) 

Not one little plastic whispy thingy hanging on it all!  Check out the point, too, pointest point you ever did see, right?  Aaammmaaaaaaazing!
It really was quiet, too.  There were a few times I wasn't sure I got the pencil in correctly because it didn't sound like it was working, but it was.  It's really that quiet. 

I will now tell anyone that will listen about this awesome pencil sharpener.  I won't even tell you how many of these I sharpened today, just for the fun of it.  My students will not be allowed to touch my new toy classroom tool.  Ever.  It's mine, all mine!

So, the bottom line is- you need one of these bad boy.  Head over to this website and grab one up!  

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Do you like my page on Facebook yet?  If not, you should.  If so, you saw this picture this afternoon.  

Did you wonder what I was up to?  Well, since I'm a little overwhelmed with my new teaching assignment (I mentioned it in this post) I decided some glitter would make me happy.  Makes perfect sense.  I pinned the idea from Lesson Plan SOS a long time ago and today I decided to do it.  I wanted to use the glitter clothespins to hang student work in the room, so I wanted to attach thumbtacks to the back.  I hot glued the thumbtacks to each of the clothespins first.  
**Do not do this first like I did.  Glitter first, clothespins second.  Trust me.**
Then, I put my glue on one plate (you could also probably use Mod Podge, but I didn't.  I'm a rebel, I know.  I just pushed the clothespin into the glue and then into the pile of glitter and then lay them out to dry.  Easy, peasy... unless you are a ding-dong like me and have thumbtacks on the back and they won't lay flat anymore.  In this case, find a cardboard box to stick the pins into to dry.  
And look at what you get... gorgeous, huh?  I decided to just do two colors, pink for the girls, silver for the boys.  After they dried, I took them to school and added them to my student work wall.  

I love, love, LOVE how it turned out.  I just need to add students' names and then it will be all finished.  What do you think?  If you love it, I would love for you to pin it with the button below!  :)  
How are your rooms coming along?  I'm getting closer to being done, but I decided I'm taking tomorrow off from classroom stuff and spending the day with my husband. 
 Happy back to school, everyone!

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

How Do You Plan Linky & BIG Change for Me!

Mrs. Stanford is having a very cool Linky and giveaway! It's all about how we plan - with a $25 Erin Condren GC to one lucky linker! I've always done my lesson plans by myself and I haven't ever purchased a planner. There are three reasons for this: 1. I can't ever fit all the details in those tiny boxes in normal teacher lesson plan books. 2. They are ugly. The ones our school provides is as boring as you can get. Blah! 3. I'm too cheap to buy a cute planner. But.... I may have found my answer! So enjoy reading my post and the others in the Linky, but do not, under any circumstance go enter it yourself. That way I can win, get it? You'd be doing me a big favor. That's not very bucket-filler of me though, is it? Okay, fine, I want you to enter... really. I do. I would really love to read some other peoples ideas on planning. Maybe I'll just suck it up and buy one of her planners for myself if I don't win.
I normally use a template that I make to plan my lessons. You can click here to see last year's plans. Each day was two pages (or front & back) long, with every little thing listed. I like planning this way because I think it makes it easy for a substitute to walk in and follow the plans without too much trouble. I also have a sub folder that I leave extra plans in- just in case.
It takes a little time at the beginning of the year (or one of the 100 times I have to change the schedule), but weekly planning is pretty quick.
I know many teachers keep lesson plans from the previous year to look back at and help plan the new year.  I never do this.  I feel like every year I have a completely different class and I need to do things they way they need them (plus it drives me crazy to do things exactly the same way twice- seriously, I can't even stand to watch a movie that I like over again.)  So, that's how I plan for school.

Now, my big life-altering (okay, maybe just for me) change....
This year I will be teaching a split 1st and 2nd grade class!  Ahhhhh!!!!  Our school couldn't afford to hire another teacher and our board decided (thankfully, I think) that the single class sizes were too large.  This was the solution that was decided on and I got nominated to teach these kiddos.  So, now that I told you how I plan, I think I'll have to totally change the way I do everything.  I'm a little majorly nervous about how to meet common core with both groups and how to teach 2 math lessons a day.  I think Daily 5 will be a blessing with this situation, hopefully the first few weeks I can do very similar things with them since neither group has done Daily 5 before.  So what other blogs out there are teachers that teach more than one grade?  Because I.  Need.  Help.  Please.  Pretty please.
I did find Marvelous Multiagers and I'm about to send her a message... anyone know any others??? With only a week left, I'm freaking out!  I would love some suggestions, so please send them my way!  Schedules, plans, techniques- anything, really.  Thanks all, I love ya!

I guess I need to change my blog to First (and 2nd) with Franklin, huh?  I really didn't think I would ever teach a different grade!

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Common Core Math Sheets- FREE!

I have been trying to get ready to take on the new Common Core standards.  The math series we use now doesn't align to the new standards, even though they pretend they do.  The maker of our series sent us a little packet on how to align to common core, but after looking through it I think they're full of it.  That might not be nice, so maybe I can say they are stretching it a bit.  I haven't decided how much I'm going to use of the curriculum, but I think I'm going to try to use quite a bit this year while supplementing with other things, and then next year weaning myself from it even further.  So, I've decided to find and make some things myself.
All over Pinterest lately I've been seeing this cute picture: (this is as far back as I can track it)
I love the idea of it, but it's a little too tough for my students.  It also would require some serious independent organization on a piece of paper.  I decided to take the idea and make my own sheets for my students.  I ended up making several different ones, and I might tweak them a bit once I actually use them with my students.  Sometimes you don't know what will work best until you try it out on real students.  I don't think they mind being my guinea pigs.  
Good news for you?  I didn't use any clipart, so it's free, free, free!  I tried to incorporate several common core standards into these pages.  I hope to do a couple of these a week with my kiddos- and eventually have them complete them independently as morning work.  

Update:  Just in case it wasn't clear: anywhere students see the sunburst shape he/she should write in the magic number. 
I didn't use "today's number" because I'm not sure we'll have time to do this every single day.  I thought Magic Number seemed fun- I think I'll even make it a little game where I pull the "Magic Number" out of a bag after giving them clues about what it could be.  Like this:
The magic number is more than 2.
The magic number is less than 20.
The magic number is even. 
The magic number has one digit.
And so on until they guess my magic number... fun, right?  We have done similar things in past and my students always love to "beat" me when I'm teasing them and telling them that they'll never guess my number.  Isn't teaching all about making them totally engaged while acting totally silly?  Well, at least that's how I roll.  
While I was working on math sheet anyways, I decided to add some 120 charts to the mix... it's going to be hard getting used to saying 120 instead of hundred number chart... darn that common core.  I do agree that my students should be counting higher than 100, but I just like that nice, round number.  I made a few different charts because I think some students need different things.  I always have a few that get stuck on what to do when they finish a row, this one is for those kiddos:

I also made some that have the multiples of 5 filled in, and the 10's column already finished.  I like to have something filled in at the beginning of the year, just to make sure they don't get off track and then I get stuck erasing the entire page.  I also made a blank one for when students are ready to tackle it.  Here is a peak at those:

If you would like to have these for yourself, all you have to do is click here.  If you like them, please consider pinning it with the button below.  :)

Is there anything you would add to these pages?  Give me some good ideas and maybe I can add to the packet.  :)

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Currently & Parent Volunteers

I feel like I'm a little late the Currently party this month, but better late than never, right?  I love doing these fun little Currently and then stalking all the other blogs to see what my peeps are up to right now. So, here is what I'm Currently thinking and doing.  Can't wait to check out everyone else's!

B2S Must Haves- 
#1- My Silhouette machine has been so cool this summer.  I have made student behavior guitars, Calendar words, and some labels.  I love, love, love it!
#2- The laminating machine.  I use the one at our school- we pretty much have free use of it and I take advantage.  I know that some of you have your own laminators and that is sooooo tempting.  I would love to have it at home, but while I can use my school's as much as I need, I'm going to stick with the free option!
#3- This will be my first year doing Daily 5 in my classroom, so I have a feeling my Daily 5 book will be stuck to me like glue!  I have read it once and I'm working on a second time.  I'm excited & nervous about implementing it for the first time.

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Do you have parent volunteers in your classroom?  I have never really tried to recruit parent volunteers before, but I am going to have a large class this year (27) and I want to explore my options.  I know that my superintendent would be okay with parent volunteers in the room as long as they aren't doing any assessments or grading.  I would like to invite parents to volunteer, but I'm not sure where to start.  
How are you able to recruit volunteers?  Do you ask specific people or just send home a request with all students?  What exactly do you have your parent volunteers do in your classroom?
I would love to hear from others how you handle this in your classroom.  Thanks!  :)

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Labels for Me, Labels for You and TpT Update

Before, I get started today, I have to apologize.  I love to offer things for free on my website, but after reading (closely, this time) I realized that I'm breaking the rules...  I'm a little embarrassed and very apologetic.  To the makers of the graphics I've used and to you.  To sum it up- I can sell things that I make with the graphics, but I can't give them away for free.  Oops.  Whoops.  Sorry.  Really.  
So, here is what I decided to do.  I put several things together into one file for you and I'm only going to charge $2.  (Find them here.) Hopefully this okay with you.  I really do apologize.  I would be more than happy to make small changes to any of my files to make them work perfectly for you and your classroom.  So, that's it- I suck... haha.  Please forgive me and don't throw anything at me.  
Onto better things now!

As a lot of you know, my classroom theme this year is "1st Grade Rocks!"  I have done several things to get ready, including making my own labels, posters, etc.  However, I found these through Pinterest and they were so perfect for my theme...
not to mention that this is one less thing I have to make for my own room now! Head over to 2nd Grade Shenanigans to pick them up!    Woohoo!  Still not enough to convince you need them?  Well, they're free!  That's right- now go grab them up!

Look at how freaking adorable rockin' they are going to look on our mailboxes!  I think the kids will love them- I know I do!  I had them printed a local printing shop to make sure they look fabulous- so glad I did.  They will look great for years to come!  What do you think about also using these as locker tags?  I don't know if I can use the same thing twice, but since they won't both be in my classroom maybe my brain can handle it.  Maybe.
The only problem is, I lost 15.  I have no idea what happened (unless the laminator ate it... or maybe one of my dogs?).  Anyways, I guess I have to get it printed all over again unless I just don't teach the number 15... who needs it anyways??? Do you think my students would notice? haha

After I got all (except that darn 15) attached to the mailboxes I decided that my plastic containers will all of my other supplies need labels.  These are the ones that I use.

I think I bought them at Walmart for about $1 each.  I have some that hold extra supplies and shared supplies.  Each child in my class has his/her own tub where all of their extra pencils, erasers, and crayons are kept on a shelf, out of reach.  They also have to keep all of their markers in it (so they don't "accidentally forget" they weren't supposed to use them).  It has worked very well so far and I plan on continuing it this year.  I made some labels with my students' names on them.
I am going to use the same labels to label all of my other tubs of community supplies.  I labeled the things that I knew I needed and I tried to think of some other things that you might need.  If there is something else you would like to have on it, shoot me an email and I'll see what I can do.  (I probably won't do your entire class list for you, sorry, but I'm about to crazy with my own to-do list.)
Here is a preview of them- you can find them in my TpT store in "This Pack Rocks!" The pack also comes with rock deskplates, folder labels, and crayon bin labels.  All for $2- and please let me know if I can customize it for you!

Hope you like them and please, Please, PLEASE let me know if I can make them any better for you!  So sorry about the earlier confusion... I'm going to be working on going back and updating old posts today that say free.  *Hanging my head in shame*  There is a way for some of my graphics that I could share them for free, but I would have a buy a special license and since I'm not making anything from them I can't afford to do that right now.  Sorry again, sorry.  Maybe if some of you wonderful peeps go and buy some of my stuff then I can buy the special license and give y'all some free stuff.  Sound like a deal? 

How is your classroom coming along?  I hope you are finished and get to sit by the pool and relax today.  I will not be doing that.  I'm going to work in my classroom today... maybe locking myself inside until it's finished.  So much to do- so little time left!!!  I also found out this week that I will have 26 little sweethearts this year.  For our school, that is A LOT of kiddos!  I have go figure what is leaving my classroom so that I can fit 10 more desks in it.  Wish me luck!

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