Thursday, January 24, 2013

A 4 Day Week and OMG!!!!

Am I the only one who is exhausted after a 4 day week? It is only Thursday evening and I am wishing tomorrow was Saturday. My kids have been a little chatty...LOL...They haven't stopped talking!!!! We also have progress reports and parent/teacher conferences next week so I have been trying to do some assessments. Where does the time go? I need way more hours in our school day!! Am I actually saying that???

This week we began subtraction with regrouping. I introduced it first by just showing them what it looked like if they were doing it on their paper. Then we used place value mats with our base ten blocks. The first example was a was like they had never used base ten blocks. Oh, and my principal decides to do a walk through at that very moment. Oh well, I trudged forward!! With each practice problem, the craziness lessened. I used the poster below to help them understand the whole concept.

What I thought was very helpful was sending an email to my parents the night before we were going to start the subtraction with regrouping concept. I also sent the above poster and explained the steps I would be teaching. This seemed to be quite helpful.

On Monday, our second graders will be celebrating their 101st day of school. I have been doing this for several years since the 100th day of school is done in K and 1st. Our 101st day is a short day for us due to conferences, so I will not be able to do as much as I did last year. The kids will be dressing up to look like they are 101. However, myself and my teaching partners will be dressing up as second graders!!! The kids are super excited!! We have some fun activities planned that day with our limited time schedule. I will be sure to share and post pictures next week!

I am off to watch my new favorite show Scandal!! I don't know why, but I am hooked! Wishing you all a happy Friday!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Getting into the Groove!!

Last summer I was able to end the Daily 5 and Cafe Workshops by the Sisters. It was amazing! I had been experimenting with the Daily 5/Cafe for a few years after having read both books. Their workshops gave me a clearer idea about what it really was and how it worked. Then in late October. my teaching partner and I were able to visit the Seattle school where Gail taught. We observed the Daily 5/Cafe in action! I must say it was quite an experience. I could have spent a week there just observing. I couldn't believe how calming the school was and what they were doing with their students. I left with a whole new understanding of what the Daily 5/Cafe were. It wasn't as complicated as I had made it out to be.

Fast forward a few months later to my own classroom...I have made the Daily5/Cafe work for me. It is still a work in progress, but I have made adjustments to allow it to function rather smoothly for me and my students. I am quite pleased with what has been happening. Here is a little peek at my Read to Self Block:

I meet with my four lowest students every single day. We do a one on one conference, and sometime a group meeting as well. Each night they take a book bag home with a book that we have read. There is also a communication notebook. I record what we read and my observations. The parent then reads my comments and records their observations when they listened to their child read that night. I can not tell you what a difference this had made with my struggling readers. They were reading about 10-15 words per minute when we first started. Now they are between 45-60 words per minute. They just read The Mitten by Jan Brett the other day!! I can not tell you how proud and confident they are now that the reading is becoming so much easier for them. As their teacher, I am so amazed at how one on one conferencing has made such a difference.

We do Read to Self every day for about 25-30 minutes. I try to conference with 4-7 students during this time frame. I have been using the electronic pensieve that came out earlier this year from the Daily Cafe website to record my conferences. It is an amazing tool!!

On Tuesday and Thursdays I have 2 parent helpers for and hour and a half time block. Every half hour, 8 of my kids leave the room and work in the computer lab. They are doing Raz Kids. This leaves me with 16 kids in the classroom. One parent has 8 kids and she is usually working on some sort of skill where the kids work in pairs. This past week they worked on synonyms and plural nouns. The other parent and I each take four kids and work on a book at their level. This week I did The Great Kapok Tree with one group and The Mitten with my other  group. It is amazing the conversations you can have and the focus you can give each child with a small group. They love it as well!

Here is the skill the students worked on this week! They had a lot of fun. It can be found in my Rain, Rain, Go Away Unit:Literacy and Math Activities.

Well, I am off to the gym with the trainer!! Ready to get my booty kicked...I hate it and love it at the same time. I am looking forward to enjoying my day off!! Hope you are all enjoying as well!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Homework Question and A New Unit

Why do Mondays always come so quick??? Actually, my day went pretty quick until the almost 2 hour staff meeting. I can't complain. My principal is really good about not having too many meetings. 
Today was a big debate about homework. Should it be given or not? Research says this and research says that. I do have my kids read on a nightly basis, complete no more than 8 math problems, and have a spelling activity that allows for quite a bit of freedom. I feel homework does not have to be a burden, but I do think it allows parents to see what is going on in class. I  also do not want it to ever be a battle or take forever. I think it teaches kids to be responsible. I can also see if someone doesn't have a firm grasp on a particular concept. 
So I would love to hear from others what your view on homework is. 
There was some heated debate at our staff meeting on this subject that narrowed down to a select few feeling that homework is wrong. So I am curious to hear if there is anyone that does not give homework at all. 

Here is a preview of some of the items included in my new unit!

I am off to bed! I get to sleep in an extra hour because we have our last Common Core training tomorrow. It doesn't start until 8:30. Woohoo!!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Keeping True to My One Little Word

I survived the first week back!! I can not believe how tired I was by Friday. I am not going to lie...I could have used one more week off. When the alarm clock went off at 5:00 am Monday I thought I was dreaming!! But as soon as the eyedrops went into my eyes and I felt the sting of what the heck are you doing up so early... I knew I wasn't dreaming, but back to reality. It was good to see all the kiddos Monday morning. I think they were a little excited to be back. I do have a great class this year so I do look forward to coming to work each day.

We began our week with discussing New Year's resolutions. I read them

It talks about what a resolution is in a way that kids can relate. They really enjoyed it. We discussed our own resolutions and then each student created their own "I'm Dropping into the New Year" writing and art piece. 

It is supposed to be the ball in Times Square countdown. 
I do not having any pictures of the students' work because each day I forgot to take a picture...probably because I was so focused on my own New Year's resolution of trying to be organized..LOL!!
I do have a few photos of them in their 2013 masks!! I do like to do some crazy, fun photos with my kids throughout the year. Sometimes they look at me like I am totally crazy, but for the most part they go along with it!!

Speaking of photos...Here is a photo of what we gave their parents for Christmas. I took each child's picture and then put it in a black from. I thought they turned out super cute!!

Later in the week we did a "How To" writing. The students and I worked together to explain how to make hot chocolate. Of course, I do not have pictures. I will take some tomorrow and post later this week. 

The week went by pretty quick and I was amazed at how they fell back so easily into our normal routines. We did do some reviewing of rules and procedures because we got a new student. She has adjusted quite well...hopefully it is not just the Honeymoon period!

I made a new "Rockstar" postcard for my clipchart. When my student make it to the top of our clip chart, they add a jewel to their clip and they get a positive note home.

Here is the front of the note:

Here is the back of the note:

I thought they turned at pretty cute! I think the kids will love them!! It makes me happy that they get so excited about the end of the day when we recognize our "Rockstar" behavior.

I am almost finished with a new unit. I  should have it uploaded to TPT by tomorrow.

I am off to bed!! Happy Monday to everyone!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Winner is...

Congratulations Elisabeth G. !!Please send me your email so I can get your sharpener to you!!

Well, happy Monday to all! I am off to my first day back at work!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Getting Ready to Go Back, a New Product, and a Freebie!!!

Why is it that as vacation comes to a close I always have a million things to do and only the weekend left to do it? I won't complain because I have to admit that these past two weeks were just what I needed...even if I did get the stomach flu on Christmas Eve and had to cancel Christmas with my family. Eventually I felt better and got to spend a great make up Christmas with my family!!

As we all know, we as teachers can never stay away from school when we are on a break. So against my husbands wishes ( He seems to think I should be able to get everything done during a normal school day!! I just don't understand why you ever have to bring anything home??) I love him dearly, but if I could only convince him to spend one full day at school with me and the kids I think he would see why I do what I do. Anyway,  I did venture into school a little bit yesterday and today. I did some major cleaning and organizing. I still need a few more hours, but I am not sure that will happen before Monday. It did feel so good to go through piles and purge!! I am also getting a new student on Monday so I had to get things ready for her.

I did create a new product for my TPT store.  It covers telling time to the hour, half hour, and quarter hour with some fun activities and games!! I am fairly new to this so it takes me a while. I was trying out the Picasa program to create one of those really cute previews that everyone does. I had no clue what I was doing, but I created something. If anyone has a cheat sheet or some pointers I could really use some help. I was frustrated that I couldn't switch pages from underneath each other. Oh, I am sure you can, but this chick had no clue!! If you would like to check out my product click on the picture below.

I am going to give a copy to the first two people who comment below. 

If you have not entered my giveaway for the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener please do. It will end on Monday. 

I am still looking for CALIFORNIA BLOGGERS. Would love to organize a meet up!!! Let me know if you are interested!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Calling on California Bloggers

So I am fairly new to all this blogging, but I am so jealous when I see blogger meet ups. I decided since it was a new year I would take more I am putting a shout out to all California bloggers!! Is anyone interested in doing a blogger meet up in the near future? I do not know everything that it entails, but I am willing to learn and be an active participator.  I teach in Northern California, but am willing to travel. If you are interested let me know. I think it could be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I'm linking up with Farley for a little linky party fun to ring in the New Year!  Happy 2013  to everyone!

I chose FOCUS for my OLW because I tend to think or do too many things at once. And I must admit that at times I do not finish some of the things I begin. So in 2013 I want to focus more on doing less things better and being more thorough. 

On another note, I have a few more days left of vacation. I am hoping to get into school at least one day to do some clean up and get some things ready for our first day back. Why is it that the brain begins to work overtime when you have a little time off from school? See that is where my OWL is going to come in handy!! Focus Christa!!! I made a little review activity for my kiddos for the first day back. It is a review on regrouping. I cut the cards and tape them around the room. Then they go around and solve the problems. They love getting up and moving around to do work!! I love it because they are so much more focused!! If you would like a copy for yourself just click on the picture below!

If you haven't entered my giveaway...get after it!!!!

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