Sunday, September 14, 2014

Prepping for Parent Orientation

Back to school means getting ready for parent orientation night. Last year we had some feedback from our parents that they didn't realize what a leap it was from kindergarten to first. We wanted to make sure our parents were informed and we also wanted them to know that on our team we all have the same expectations and we all teach the same curriculum....we may just teach it in a different way. I think this was our best parent orientation night EVER!

We started the night with a 25 minute presentation in our cafeteria addressing all of the parents. We have two brand new teammates so we started with a little introduction. We passed the microphone around between slides so we were all able to present as a team.

I'm so thankful I work with such an incredible group of ladies! Love them all!

We covered: 
*Schedule, pace, and the importance of showing up on time to school
*Reading expectations. We hope our students are at a DRA level 4 or above at the beginning of the year and an 18 or above at the end of the year. We took pictures of both a 4 and 18 to show parents what their child is working for. 
*Reading comprehension and its part in DRA scores. This is a big deal for us. Many parents know their children can read challenging books, but they don't realize that their child isn't able to remember what they are reading.
*Spelling- this year we have three mystery words that follow our phonics skill for the week. This way we can see which students have really mastered the skill instead of just memorizing the words.
*We discussed math facts and how to study them.
*Snacks, lunches
*BYOD- our district encourages students to bring their own devices
*Shoe tying! We asked that parents not send their children to school in shoes with laces if they can't tie them by themselves
*homework- reading every night
*sight words-Fry list

After our team presentation was over parents came to our classrooms for individual presentations. These covered a little bit about us (I revealed that I have a blog- I've never told parents that! EEK! My blog has always been just for me. If people figured out I had one I was ok with that but I never actually told anyone except my teammates), our personal behavior management, and other odds and ends.

Every year I end my presentation with this quote. I came across it when I read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. Hands down one of the best books I've ever read! If you haven't read it go put it on your wish list RIGHT NOW!
First grade is a reading grade and let's face it- all those stinkin standardized state tests are really READING tests!

My baby is due October 31st and I'm already stressing about making sure I have thorough plans and everything in place. I may have gone a little crazy with the Astrobrights paper. But I wanted to make sure my parents had plenty of information. I saw this fabulous flip book on Instagram from
 A Spoonful of Learning.  I love the end product! You can purchase your flip book here.

ugh- I see one page was stapled off center.  

*I also made two extra copies and set them aside for new students.

I found GREAT handouts on reading at home from All Students Can Shine and Fun in First.

I also needed a few other items in my room and used this SUPER cute donut themed parent donation pack from Farley! (I wanted to set mine up cuter, but swollen feet prevented me from doing much.) You can find her donut themed parent night pack right here.

At the end of the night I was exhausted but I think our first grade parents went home with lots of information and a better understanding of everything first grade entails. I {fingers crossed} hope my parents felt a little more at ease.

Hope all my teacher friends out there are off to a great school year! 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Starting off on the WRITE foot

Good morning! I survived week two of school. How about you? I have lots to share about our week, but first I have to celebrate a fellow blogger! My dear friend Ashley from

Flying High in First Grade

Flying High in First Grade is celebrating a milestone and she's having an AWESOME giveaway! You can win my September/October Poem a Week pack as well as several other kick ass prizes. Ashley just had a baby girl and who knows, maybe our girls will be besties one day! 

This week we were busy working on routines, incorporating more Whole Brain Teaching, and setting up our writing journals. We want to start out on the "write" foot! LOL! Before school started I blogged about my All the Write Moves pack and the changes I had made to it from last year. You can check out that post here.

First we glued in our tabs to separate our journals into sections. Then we started gluing in all of our Writers Can pieces. I used my new Belkin Tablet Stand document camera for the first time. It was awesome. (I'll be doing a post on that in a couple of weeks after I've figured out all the cool tools!)

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Some pieces are interactive. But my main goal with having a Writers Can section was to give examples for my student to refer back to when they are working in their journals. I'm so excited to see how their writing changes and how they challenge themselves with journals set up this way.
You can find my All the Write Moves pack on TPT. Just click on the picture above! 
Happy Saturday!

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Currently

Thank goodness it's September y'all! I'm hoping that means we are getting closer to cooler weather. We've been pretty lucky here in my part of Texas. Most of the summer we didn't have temperatures over 100. That NEVER happens. But now those high temperatures are here and we bake at recess.

I love Farley's Currently linky! I love hearing a little about the person behind the blog. She also had a Currently for the Classroom which is FABULOUS all on its own, but also really really FABULOUS if you are doing buddy readers or something with another class. Makes for a great conversation starter between partners.
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LISTENING: We are having some bedrooms painted next week and my husband is taking off all the face plates to outlets and phone jacks. 

LOVING: My Erin Condren Life Planner. For those who don't know I'm pregnant and due on October 31. It's true what they say- there is pregnancy brain. If it weren't for my Life Planner I would forget EVERYTHING. I've put every appointment, staff meeting, even things like PICK UP CAT FOOD in my Life Planner. Love it! Plus, how do you not love something monogrammed?!

THINKING: Why on Earth does the school day begin so early?! Kids can start coming to our class at 7:35. The tardy bell rings at 7:45. We actually begin our day at 8:00 after morning announcements. I would much rather not have to be there until 7:45 and have the kids come down at 8:00. An extra ten minutes would make a world of difference. (Our school day ends at 2:55. Teachers can leave at 4:00) I live 30 minutes from my school and it's worth the drive because our principal is INCREDIBLE, BUT that means I'm leaving at 6:45ish every morning. That makes for a long day!

WANTING: Regular desks back in my room. {SIGH}
This summer I went to iPadpalooza and got to see some really awesome modern furniture for the classroom. I also read this book called The Third Teacher. It's such a fun read about how our classroom design and set up changes how students learn. They feature very cool furniture inside.

Anyway I spent a lot of time this summer looking at modern furniture from Shift + and Steelcase and a few other places. I loved that the furniture I was looking at made the most of a small space, wasn't oversized, and allowed for lots of collaboration. So when I was asked to pilot possible new furniture for our future elementary school I was THRILLED!!

Long story short. My furniture arrived Friday before school started. I realize I've only given it a week but THUMBS DOWN. It's from a company I've never heard of. The shapes of the desks are trapezoids which only allows for semi circle and circle arrangements. (I can't have half my class with their back to the board). They are on wheels which is great. But they are so big that the 24 desks take up almost my whole classroom. I got rid of my carpet and our meeting area is so small I can hardly get my kiddos to fit. I want my regular desks back. This is NOT the furniture we should order for the new elementary. Maybe, just maybe, teachers should have a little input before we purchase furniture. After all, we are the ones using it and teaching with it. 
{Stepping down off soap box now}

NEEDING: Listen y'all, the heat is stupid hot. Even though I'm taking it easy and sitting down as much as I can my feet and ankles get super swollen at recess. Come on cold front!!

3 TRIPS: This was so hard! I could only really think of two places. I have heard Yellowstone National Park is gorgeous. I would love to go there and do a little hiking, see some wildlife, etc. I would also love to go to Italy in part because it would be a great excuse to eat like a maniac and drink lots of wine. I've also had friends go and come back raving about what a wonderful time they have had.

I can't wait to read what everyone else has written. Maybe I can figure out where my third place to visit would be!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

5 Must-Read Books for Back to School

It's been wonderful being back at school this week! I've missed being in the classroom and I've really missed my picture books.

My name is Jennifer and I have a picture book addiction. 

Seriously, put me in Barnes and Noble and it's like I'm in Target. I have no self-control! I know I'm not alone!

I have 5 books that I read every year and I can't imagine beginning my year without them.

1. Do Unto Otters- Absolutely the cutest book about the golden rule of do unto others. Great for manners and treating others with kindness. Every year I draw the main character and we record all the words we can think of on how to "do unto otters." There's also a VERY adorable DVD that you can find on Amazon (it includes 3 other stories By Laurie Keller). It's an animated version of the story and it's always a big hit.

2. Wemberly Worried- So many students can relate to being nervous on the first day of school. 

3. You Will Be My Friend- HILARIOUS! Peter Brown is too funny. Lucy, the cute bear on the cover, has the hardest time making a friend. She even yells "YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND!" which of course does not help her in making any new friends. The kids laugh at her ridiculous behavior and it leads to great discussion about how to make a friend.

4. Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse- Another fabulous Kevin Henkes book. When Lilly draws a nasty picture of her teacher at the end of a bad day her teacher tells her "Today was difficult, tomorrow will be better." I say that same phrase to students all year long. Students easily relate to Lilly's excitement to show and tell about her purple plastic purse, movie star sunglasses, and jingly quarters. 

5. Library Lion- the illustrations in this book are so gorgeous. If you aren't familiar with this book it's so sweet. The librarian is very adamant that everyone follow the rules- most importantly STAY QUIET. But what if there's an emergency? Is there ever a time when it's okay to break the rules?


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