Tuesday, 30 June 2015

July Currently

I can't believe it is almost the first of July! Props to Farley for getting this month's Currently up and running before the first of the month! I can't believe I am joining up so early. Woo hoo! GO link up your Currently at Oh Boy 4th Grade!


Listening to Pretty Little Liars. Anyone else watch this show? I binge watched everything they had on Netflix, and then had to catch up so I could watch the new shows!! I love it, but I do hope they wrap up the mystery soon! ;)

Loving this sunny, hot weather! I feel like I will need to go swimming sometime this week!

Thinking about my classroom. Today was the last day of school for the teachers in my division, but it was my first day!! I went in for a staff meeting in the morning, then got to spend the afternoon working in my classroom. I didn't do much--tossed a bunch of stuff, moved some stuff from home, and basically stared at the walls for a while, deciding how I want to set things up next year. One decision I made though--I'M GETTING RID OF MY TEACHER DESK! I am so pumped. I have been thinking about this for a couple years now. Have you gotten rid of your desk?? I only have Thursday and Friday to work in my room, then it's locked up until two weeks before school starts. Boo! Oh well, it will force me to have some downtime this year. ;)

Wanting to sleep in a bit tomorrow. We had a late night at frisbee, so maybe Zoe will sleep in a bit. That crazy baby always has her own plans though. lol

Needing a foot rub! I play ultimate frisbee once a week. You need 4 guys and 3 girls on the field at all times. Usually we have at least 4 or 5 girls, but today there was only 3 of us, so we had to play the whole time! It as fun, but exhausting!

All Star--Cutting and laminating! I am definitely a pro at this! ;)

What are you Currently up to? Go link up!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Dare to Dream!

It is week two of the TpT Seller Challenge hosted by the ladies over at Sparkling in Second, Teach Create Motivate, Third in Hollywood, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista. This week's challenge is called Dare to Dream where we have to share our dreams for TpT!


My goal isn't to work on TpT full time. I need to be in the classroom. I was born to be a teacher. It's genetic. (Like my addiction to books and school supplies. I know exactly where those came from.) My goal is to use TpT and my resources to make my teaching life just a bit easier, so that at 4;00pm when the students leave, I can be out of there shortly after to spend as much time with my baby girl as I can. I have enjoyed my almost year and a half mat leave with my girl, but I've also spent naptimes and evenings continuing to work on school stuff. I just can't stop! It will be hard to leave her in the care of someone else, but I know she will enjoy the time playing with other children and I will continue working the job I love, inspiring someone else's child to love learning as much as I do. TpT has allowed me to take an extra four months unpaid leave after my one-year mat leave, so I am definitely grateful for that!

When I first started this little blog, my goal was to really document my adventures in first grade for myself and then hope that at least someone, somewhere got a few ideas to use in their own classroom! I started TpT for similar reasons... I wanted to create resources that worked for me and my classroom and then share them with anyone else that would find them useful. There weren't a lot of Canadian bloggers out there at the time and I wanted to create something that fit my curriculums and my teaching style.

Reading other teaching blogs and reflecting on my own teaching on my blog has definitely inspired me to be a better teacher. I can't thank the blogging word enough for that. :)

What are your TpT dreams?

Monday, 22 June 2015

Monday Made It - Question of the Day Board and More

I am so excited that I can actually link up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It today! It has been awhile since I joined up with this fun linky party.



This first project has been on my to do list forever! I just could never find a large oil drip pan like this anywhere! This pin is from Proud to be Primary. It's a large magnetic board for the question of the day!



After constantly checking Walmart, hardware stores, and auto parts stores in my area with no luck, I finally found one on Amazon! I thought it was going to be smaller, but it's pretty big! It measures about 2 feet by 3 feet. I think it's the perfect size for this project! Plus it was only $22 and free shipping (when you spend over $25, but there are always books in my cart, so that was NOT a problem!).
So first up, I gave the pan a little quick rub down with some Goo Be Gone to get rid of any smudges or sticker residue left on it. Next I hung two small Command hooks at the top and used some purple masking tape to make the lines. I laminated and taped on some of my new Chalkboard Brights Letters from Teacher Created Resources. Then I hung my daily questions with binder rings on the Command hooks and placed round student number magnets at the bottom.


Each day we will flip to a new question and students will move their magnet number from the bottom section to either the "yes" or "no" sections. It will be part of our morning routine to answer the question so that I can check who is present and who is absent. It can also serve as a good discussion time and a math opportunity to count and talk about more/less.


I have a set of questions for each month that are on binder rings. The rings hang onto the Command hooks. Each month I just stick the new set of cards up and each day we flip to the next question. It is so easy to setup that even my student helper can do it. Same with resetting the numbers at the end of the day--a perfect job for a student helper.


These are my students' number magnets. More details about them below.


I decided to create a pack of questions for each month that I could use with my question board. The cards are two-to-a-page, so they are each about 4.25x11" big. They feature a hint of chalkboard and bright colours. Each month will have twenty-two question cards, along with six blank ones that you could write on with a dry erase marker or Sharpie.


I will also be bundling all the questions into a yearly pack. You will get all 220 cards for a discounted price. That's more than enough question cards to last you the entire year, so you can pick or choose some . There are no duplicate cards. Each of the months has a few holiday/seasonal themed cards (Halloween, Christmas, etc.), but there are lots of generic cards as well. (So far only September and October are done, but the rest will be done by the end of August!)



I have these Neon Book Bins from Really Good Stuff that I love. They have held up super well over three years now. Anywho, my new classroom theme is going to be chalkboard with brights--focusing on the colours pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Well, the book bins I have are only in pink, yellow, green, and blue, so OF COURSE I had to be matchy-matchy and order some purple and orange book bins to complete my theme. These book bins will work as my students' book bins, house my home reading books, and hold some of my special teacher-only books and read alouds.

I created some cute numbered labels for my students' book bins.


You can find the circle labels from my question board above and these fancy labels in my new classroom decor pack. Each type of label comes in numbers 1-30 and letters A-Z. Check them out by clicking the picture below. The chalkboard decor style does use up a bit more ink that other designs, so if you are more ink-conscious, I still have my Rainbow Polka Dot labels.


Another project that has been on my to do list for over two years now were these Story Stones. These pictures are from Natalie over at Natalie's Nook. I already had the stones bought and the pictures printed and cut out--I just needed to modge podge them! Students can use these stones for story ideas during writing time. They turned out pretty cute!


While I had the modge podge out, I covered up the labels on my "What's that Smell?" jars for my senses explore tubs. Read more about those {here}. I also added number stickers to the bottom so I could create a little answer key for myself. Note: put numbers on the bottom of the jar, not the lid, because lids can easily get mixed up!


Here is another science activity I put together for my living things explore tubs. (Those will be up on the blog soon enough, along with my objects and materials tubs!) This is a seed matching activity. You need some packets of different seeds, small containers, and dot stickers. I emptied the seeds into the small containers (one type of seed per container), placed a matching number sticker on the back of the seed packet and the top of the seed container, modge podged the seed container, and laminated the seed packets.


Students can practice matching up the seeds to the type of plant. Here's my little Zoe having fun with the seeds. She just liked shaking them and hearing the sounds that they made!


Woo! That was a lot for a Monday. Now we can take it easy and get some coffee! :)

Oh, P.S. Math Book Monday is taking a little vacation until I go back to school in September. Most of my math books are at school anyways, so I will just wait until school is back on. Then I will be able to show you books that we are actually reading in class and what my class is working on to go with them.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Makeover Madness

Have you heard about the TpT Seller Challenge? It is being hosted by the ladies over at Sparkling in Second, Teach Create Motivate, Third in Hollywood, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista. Each week they will have a challenge for TpT sellers! SOunds like fun--I'm always up for a challenge!

Here are my stats from Sunday. Don't look at my Twitter. I never use it. I'm not sure if I want to use it yet, either. Although my school now has a Twitter account, so maybe?


So the first challenge is makeover madness. We have to give one of our products a makeover. I decided to do my "Where Are We? Hanging Mini-Posters". I love this pack and I found the cards so helpful to let parents, specialists, and other staff know where the class is at all times. I decided to give the product a little makeover, because I have some new Melonheadz clipart that works better for some of the locations! Here's a peek at some of the little changes:

 I am slowly changing up my products covers to include my new name and blog domain!


If you already bought this pack, go back to your purchases on TpT and redownload the updated pack for free. If you have not checked this one out, head to TpT by clicking the picture below. It will be on sale until Friday!!


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

June Currently

Wow, I cannot believe how fast time is going by. My baby girl is now 14 months old. I will be going back to school in 3 months after being off for close to a year and a half! Well a new month means a new Currently. Link up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade!


Listening - Zoe is such a goof. Her new noise is panting like a dog. It's pretty entertaining.

Loving - The excavator was here yesterday to dig the hole for our basement. The foundation will be started in the next couple days, then the shell of the house will be moved on in about a month. Our builder hopes to have us in the house by end of August. Fingers crossed!!


Thinking - I feel like I am always grocery shopping. But we are out of the basics--bread, milk, bananas, Cheerios. At least Zoe is fun to shop with!

Wanting - Coffee. Made. Drank. Yum!

Needing - I have an online shopping addiction. I think I am currently waiting for 4 packages. Whoops! I'm always looking for classroom stuff and now new stuff for the new house!! I ordered some fabric for some curtains, chair covers, and pillow cases! And my Sit Spots arrived! I picked the six bright colours that are going to be with my chalkboard decor: pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple!


Summer Lovin - It's going to be a busy summer! Three weddings of weekends... two close friends and my best friend! I'm in the wedding party for one; hubby's in the wedding party for one. Three bachelorette parties, wedding showers, rehearsal dinners... Busy, busy!

I also want to make time to take Zoe to the zoo and to go camping with her. We were supposed to go camping last weekend, but temperatures were at freezing at night. That's too cold to go camping with a baby!

Oh, and don't forget moving into our new house (at least we only have to move our stuff 100 feet) and getting back into the classroom. I'm redoing all my classroom decor with chalkboard and brights. Why not?

Here's my Pinterest board with some of the house projects I want to complete this summer: refinish dining room table and chairs, redo master bed and make headboard, five sets of curtains, paint a bookcase for Zoe's room, build a bench for the dining room table.... is that it?

Follow Amanda Ross (First Grade Garden)'s board Personal - To Do 2015 on Pinterest.

Farley is also raising money this Currently to help out the Wimberley Animal Adoption and Rescue. I have a soft spot for animals and couldn't imagine my poor animals not having a place to live or getting lost, so of course I had to help out!


Sunday, 31 May 2015

Running a Guided Math Lesson

Yesterday I wrote a post about how I plan and manage my guided reading lessons. You can read about that {here}. Today's post is about how I do my guided math lessons. It's very similar. I run a modified version of Daily 5 for literacy and a similar version for math. While other students are doing various literacy or math activities, I am meeting with small groups (usually no more than 4 or 5) and teaching a math lesson.

This is a peek into my guided math plan book. My reading and math planners are bound together in one book. I do all of my lessons at the same table, so why not keep all my materials in the same place! I have a sticky tab in each section to easily find the day's lessons.


I split my kiddos into five groups based on their ability level of the topics or skills we are learning. I find that my math groups change a lot more than my reading groups because students can really vary with their math knowledge and skills. I use a dry erase marker on my group page because the groups can change every week or two weeks! My math groups are colour-coded and each group has a shape--the blue diamonds (or rhombuses? rhombi?), green triangles, yellow stars, pink squares, and purple circles.


I also keep a laminated version of our Grade 1 Math outcomes in my planner book, so I can refer back to them easily or check them off with a dry erase marker if I wish.


I keep each group's lesson materials in a matching tub. The math tubs are buried somewhere with my reading tubs, but these are the tubs I use from Really Good Stuff with these cute shape labels.


I spend about 30 minutes a day with my guided math groups, so I see two groups a day for 15 minutes each. Unlike my reading groups where I see my lowest group the most, I see all my math groups equally, twice a week. (Unless it's a short week. Then I might not meet with my higher groups. Oh well. C'est la vie! Does anyone else remember that song by B*Witched? Oh how I miss 2000's pop music. Oops. *squirrel*)


I only have 15 minutes with each math group, so we fit in as much as we can in that time. I break my lessons into 3 mini parts:

{1.} Warm-Up - 3 minutes
{2.} Lesson - 5 minutes
{3.} Activity - 7 minutes

Here's a close up of how my lesson plan book looks. My math group lessons take a bit more planning than my guided reading groups, because I have to go through my activities, games, worksheets, and centres to find something that fits with the lesson I want to teach. I have to get more organized in this aspect so all of my stuff for each topic/skill is in one place! In my lesson plan book I write down the date, group name, the outcome or skill we are working on, the warm-up, the lesson, and the activity.


Here's a break down of each part of the guided math lesson:
The warm-up is just an activity I use to get our brains ready for math. It's like stretching before gym class! I have a small group set of Regan Tunstall's Rise and Shine Binders, so sometimes students will complete a page or two in there with a dry erase marker. Sometimes we might do flash cards in partners. In the example lesson above, our warm up was a Ten Frame activity from From the Pond's Fast Ten Frame Activities. I show the ten frame and say a number. If they match, students put their thumb up for true. If the number doesn't match the ten frame, they put their thumb down for false. I get a student or two to explain their thinking after each one. Quick and simple! Sometimes it might be something even simpler, such as practicing counting or skip counting or writing their numbers out on mini whiteboards.
The lesson is where I introduce the new concept or reteach a concept that the group is having trouble with. This usually involves me modelling something, such as an addition or subtraction strategy, a counting skill, or using a math tool. In the example above in my lesson plan, I was demonstrating how to see dot patterns in different ways, using Emily Hutchinson's Part Part Whole pack. We circle how we saw the dots, then filled in a number bond to see how different numbers can make up one number.
Then the last activity is something to take the skill we just learned and apply it. It could be a partner game, an individual activity, or something we work on as a whole group. For the example, after we practiced with ten frames and dot patterns, we played Ten Frame BUMP (from my 10 Frames Centres & Games pack). While they are playing, I observe to make sure students are subitizing the dice (not counting) and ten frames. I write down my observations to help me decide where to go in my next lesson. Often the games or activities we play here end up in my math stations, so that they can continue to practice the skills on their own.

Usually my guided math groups are working on a similar skill, but I differentiate the activities and difficulty levels based on the group's skill level. A group that was having a harder time with subitizing would practice with small numbers first. A higher ability group might practice adding two ten frames together.

If you are interested in my math planner cover, group organization page, and the labels that I use for each group's tub/drawer, you can download them from {here}. The title page can be edited with your own name and school name, or just delete the text for a plan cover.

If you are a Manitoba teacher and want the one-page version with the SLOs, you can download that {here}.

If you are interested in my weekly guided math lesson plans, you can download the Microsoft Word file {here}. You can change it up to suit your own needs.

I hope these posts have been helpful for you. I don't think I will be back with Math Book Monday tomorrow. Maybe soon though! Have a great Monday!!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

How to Make the Most of Your Guided Reading Lessons

So a little while back I shared my guided reading toolbox with you. If you missed that post, click {here} or the picture below. It talks about some of the goodies I keep on hand to use during my guided reading lessons!


Then a few weeks ago I was guest blogging over at the Hameray Publishing blog, where I shared a few more ideas about how I use some of my favourite tools. I also shared a freebie guided reading notebook cover that you can download. Go check it out {here} or by clicking the picture below.


Today I am going to share with you how I set up my guided reading lessons. Here's a peek at my guided reading plan book. I keep my reading and math group plans in the same planner. I just keep a sticky note on the current weekly pages.


I split my kiddos into five groups based on reading level, but these groups are fluid and change throughout the year. My groups are colour-coded and each group has an animal--the blue dogs, green frogs, yellow ducks, pink cats, and purple fish. In my guided reading planner, I have a laminated page for my groups. I can write the names in dry erase marker, but I prefer to use little post-it flags. I can move them around easily as the groups change. Plus the colours match. Love it!


I keep each group's books and lesson materials in a matching tub. Of course the tubs are buried in a box somewhere, but I use these tubs from Really Good Stuff with these cute labels.


I only have about 40 minutes a day for my guided reading time, so I see two groups a day for 20 minutes each. I usually try to see my lowest group three times a week, my middle groups twice a week, and my highest group once a week.


I have to make the most of that 20 minutes, so I break my lesson into 4 mini parts:

{1.} Reread/Fluency - 2 minutes
{2.} New Read - 8 minutes
{3.} Comprehension - 3 minutes
{4.} Word Work/Writing - 7 minutes

Here's a close up of how I plan my lessons. It doesn't take a whole lot of planning. Just a few minutes to jot down the name of the group, the title and level of the new book we will be reading, some tricky words that I want to address, check off the reading strategy we will focus on, a comprehension activity, and a word work or writing activity.


Here is a break down of the four parts of the lesson:


The group that is working with me grabs their book box, sits at the horseshoe table, and picks a previous guided reading book from their book box to start reading while they wait for me. This gives me a chance to make sure that everyone else is at their correct station and there are no problems before I settle in for (hopefully) 20 minutes of uninterrupted guided reading time! In their book boxes, students keep about 2-4 guided reading books from our previous lessons and four books of their choosing from the class library. 


Once we're all ready to go, I introduce a new book to group. We usually do a quick book walk, look at some tricky words we might come across, and make some predictions. We might also review the reading strategy we are focusing on before we read the book.

Then I give each student in the group a copy of the book and have them whisper read the book to themselves. Sometimes they just read normally and sometimes I let them use the whisper phones (made out of PVC pipe and duct tape). And if anyone is struggling with one-to-one matching, we might use some of my favourite tools such as glow-in-the-dark fingers, mini laser pointers, googly eye rings, or highlighter strips. 

I take turns listening to a few or all the students reading, making notes about who used what strategies and who struggled with what skills. If someone finishes their book before the others, I make them go back and reread! Fluency, fleuncy, fluency!


After everyone has finished the book once, we do a quick and simple comprehension activity. It might just be orally answering questions from a spinner, beach ball, or task card. We might do a story map together, practice sequencing the events of the story, or make connections to the story. 

Various spinners and cards from TpT sellers


Then the last thing to do is a word work or writing activity in our guided reading notebooks. It usually has to do with the book we just read, a phonics skill we are working on, or some sight word practice!

If you are interested in my planner cover, group organization page, and the labels that I use for each group's tub/drawer, you can download them from {here}. The title page can be edited with your own name and school name, or just delete the text for a plan cover.

If you are interested in my weekly guided reading lesson plans, you can download the Microsoft Word file {here}. You can change it up to suit your own needs.

That's it for now! Enjoy your weekend!